As a track & field coach and former college athlete, I have found that few people know much about the Hammer Throw event. When I tell people that I coach the Hammer Throw, I receive inquisitive looks and questions such as “What is the Hammer Throw?” and “Do people actually throw a hammer?” So here is a basic history of my favorite track & field event.
The Hammer Throw originated in Ireland, Scotland, and England it was part of the Tailteann games in 1829 B.C. Local tribes practiced the Hammer Throw at religious festivals in honor of the Norse god Thor. In the beginning of the Tailteann games, men hurled wheels and then later transitioned to throwing boulders attached to the end of a wooden handle. There was no set weight on the boulder but the handle length was approximately 3-3 ½ feet. The men first threw from a standing position after winding the implement over their head a few times; they then threw from a boundary line on the field. In 1875, the English created uniformed implements so as to develop consistency in the sport; the boulder was to weigh 16 lbs. and the handle was to be 3 ½ feet with athletes throwing from a circle that was 7feet in diameter. In 1895, A.J. Flanagan of Ireland created a new technique, which is still used today, in which the athlete completes three jumping rotations on the ball of the left foot (easier said than done). By the early 1900s, the wooden handle was replaced with a metal hand grip with a steel wire connected to the ball. This is still the Hammer that is thrown today. I would encourage you to visit a collegiate track and field team and check out a local hammer thrower. If you don’t have any close by, here is a clip to watch.