As with the shot and discus, the hammer throw requires a combination of strength and agility, with good footwork also essential in order to maintain proper form. As in golf, where club head speed is the key to distance, 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.
What to look for:
Hammer throwers use the same size throwing circle as shot putters, with an inside diameter of 2.135 meters. The “hammer” is actually a three-part device consisting of a metal head attached to a steel wire with a rigid handle that the thrower grips. The women’s hammer weighs four kilograms while the men’s hammer weighs 7.26 kilos. Each competitor generally takes six throws during the hammer event. The longest single throw wins.
Men’s world record:
Yuriy Sedykh and fellow Russian Sergey Litvinov were primarily responsible for taking the hammer-throwing record on a roller coaster ride from 1980 to 1986, when the record changed hands frequently, even during the same meet.
On May 16, 1980, Sedykh set his first hammer record with a toss measuring 80.38 meters. His mark was broken later in the meet by Juri Tamm (80.46), but reclaimed that same day by Sedykh (80.64). Litvinov got into the act eight days later with a throw of 81.66. Sedykh responded on July 31 with an 81.80-meter throw. Litvinov smashed the mark on June 4, 1982 (83.98) then improved it on June 21, 1983 (84.14). Sedykh had the last word in the duel however, obliterating Litvinov’s record with a throw measuring 86.34 on July 3, 1984. Sedykh improved the record twice, to 86.66 and, finally, to 86.74 on Aug. 30, 1986.
Women’s world record:
Betty Heidler broke Anita Wlodarczyk's previous mark with a third-round throw measuring 79.42 meters (260 feet, 6 inches) during a meet in Heidler's native Germany on May 21, 2011.
The record, which came on Lysenko’s first throw of the competition, marked the fourth time she’d established a new standard. She set her first record with a throw of 77.06 meters on July 15, 2005. Fellow Russian Gulfiya Khanafeyeva set a new mark of 77.26 on June 12, 2006, but Lysenko responded with a throw of 77.41 just 12 days later. Lysenko improved her record to 77.80 on Aug. 15, 2006.