Skip to content

Support Youth Hammer Throwing in America

The number of young American hammer throwers has increased rapidly over the past decade. In 2008, USA broke its medal drought with gold and silver medals at the IAAF World Junior Championships.

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, 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.


There are 2 comments for this post.

  1. Jim Brown June 21, 2011

    I have had the experience of speaking with Mr. Leach, informative, (ok sort of). His logic to me as to why the Weight Throw and Hammer are not supported by USATF,

    1. Three Un named Doctors say 90% of all injuries come from the fiedl events, therefore the hammer is bad.

    OK which field events, and scope of the injuries, please be specfic. My observation is that most injuries occur in the jumps, Pulls and strains, pole vault, The throws, I have not ever seen a thrower injured by his or her throw. Officials hit by skips in Discus, Coaches by shots when their back is turned to the circle, yeah. So lets ask for the actual numbers and data to support his #1 reason.

    2. Hammer coaches are unwilling to teach.

    Simply wrong, Coaches love to coach, but the limited facilities and mind sets of Most HS administrators makes it difficult the secure practice facilities.

    3. Only a few kids participate that are any good.

    We can now point to the 2011 New Balance Meet and show him that in spite of the barrires thrown up by the USATF Youth Chair, the Hammer is gaining popularity and thsese kids are good, and will get better.

    The Tennesee Association is in full support of the change. Lets keep the pressure up and expose the real reason Leach is not in favor. Well maybe I had better keep that thought to myself, for now.

  2. Deren Wilder December 22, 2010

    How unfortunate if they do not allow this age group to compete. My daughter’s primary event is the hammer. She trained her tail off for her entire 7th grade year only to have to wait until the following year to compete (14 year old with a PR of 126′). Furthermore, I have a 10 year old son who 2 turned 111′ with the 2k ball at a whopping 78 lbs.,…let’s give these young guys and gals an opportunity to display what they train for… All that is very basic and superficial from a bias father who loves this sport…but really,…I wonder why we have some of the best athletes in the world in football (ever heard of pop warner)…basketball…baseball…all of which start way earlier than 13 years old…as well as our other track and field athletes that get an early start. By the way, you think there is too much risk in the hammer event and training in this discipline…how about football…that is played by the 1000’s across our country…this simplified version of an argument could go on and on…I won’t waste any more time other than to say that I will be doing just as you asked…contacting my association with my concerns. …and to whoever is hearing this…give these kids a chance, good grief! It’s obvious if you are against this, your child doesn’t bust his/her tail for 11 months a year…throwing the hammer!


There are no trackbacks on this entry.