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What is the Olympic Hammer Throw?


What is Olympic Hammer Throw? It has nothing to do carpenters or nails, although early practioners actually threw sledgehammers. Modern Olympic hammer throwers can fling the shot put-sized ball incredible distances.


As in the discus throw, hammer throwers spin to generate speed prior to the throw. The speed of the hammer just prior to release will largely determine the length of the throw, provided the competitor uses the correct release point.


The hammer is a three-part device that includes a metal ball, called the “head,” attached to a steel wire not longer than 121.5 centimeters with a grip or “handle” on the end. The hammer is the only throwing competition in which throwers may wear gloves.

Men throw a 7.26-kilogram ball, with a diameter ranging between 110-130 millimeters, while women throw a 4-kilogram version with a diameter of 95-100 millimeters.

The hammer is thrown from a circle with a 2.135-meter diameter. The circle lies within an enclosure to ensure the safety of the bystanders.


Athletes in the hammer throw must achieve an Olympic qualifying distance and must qualify for their nation’s Olympic team. A maximum of three competitors per country may compete in the hammer throw.

A qualifying round reduces the Olympic hammer throw competitors to 12 for the final. As in all throwing events, the 12 finalists have three throws apiece, then the top eight competitors receive three more attempts. The longest single throw during the final wins.

Read more about Olympic Hammer Throw Rules and Scoring.

Back to Olympic Hammer Throw main page

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