Over the past decade, American hammer throwing has grown rapidly. Before 2000, young hammer throwers were primarily concentrated in Rhode Island, where the sport is an official high school event. Now, they are spread across the country from California to Florida and all areas in between. Much of this increase has been because the hammer throw is now included in the USATF’s popular Junior Olympic program for 15 to 18 year olds. In December, the USATF will vote on whether or not to expand the hammer throw to 13 and 14 year old age group.
To give you an idea of how much the hammer throw has grown, let me give you some statistics:
- Back in 2000, the national rankings listed just 5 high school boys over 200 feet and 19 over 175 feet. This year, there were 17 boys over 200 feet and 51 over 175 feet. The girls have improved even more rapidly, tripling the number of throwers over 140 feet from 12 to 36 kids over the last ten years.
- In 2010, athletes from more than 25 states were represented on Bob Gourley’s national rankings of the top 100 throwers and the top six boys came from six different states. Also, 19 state records were bettered this year alone.
- The last two world junior men’s champions, Conor McCullough (2010) and Walter Henning (2008), were both from America. In 2008, they swept the first two spots. After 50 years without an international gold medal, this is an amazing accomplishment for America and a testament to how the event has grown.
This rule change would allow the event to continue to grow. As with any technical discipline, it is easier to learn the younger an athlete begins. Most elite throwers begin much earlier than 15 and it will help America to do the same. While there are opponents to this rule change, their arguments are based on some false assumptions about the event. Martin Bingisser, the editor of Hammerthrow.org, has discussed those arguments elsewhere.
What we need from you
This rule change will not pass without the help of hammer throw supporters from across the country. Lionel Leach, the chairman of the USATF Youth Committee, is against the rule change. Please write or call your local association youth chairs or regional youth coordinators and voice your support for the event. Tell them how the event has changed your life, how it has helped others, why this rule change is needed, and why the arguments against it are weak. Contact information for your local representatives can be found here. In addition, please pass along word to anyone influential people you may know at USATF. The more people that see the benefits of this rule change, the better chance we have of helping the event’s future.
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