Is Gia the best female American discus thrower ever?

2011 IAAF World Outdoor Championships

As a matter of fact, she is.

Here is the evidence.

Exhibit A: US Women’s Discus Throws over 65m

65mb

Okay, I know that’s hard to read, but I couldn’t cut and paste the damn thing without the margins going all goofy. Basically, what you’ve got there is a list of the 40 throws of 65m or better that have been produced by American women.  By  no means does Gia dominate that list. Suzy Powell has the most throws over 65m with ten, followed by Gia with nine.  Stephanie Brown-Trafton has the farthest throw on the list (67.74m) followed by Powell (67.67m) and then Gia (67.59m).  However, take a look at…

Exhibit B:  Throws over 65m in International Competition

67.59m  Gia   (Glasgow)

66.29m Gia  (Zagreb)

65.77m  Gia  (Oslo)

65.59m Gia (Paris)

65.38m Powell  (Rethimno)

65.10m Aretha Thurmond (Monaco)

This list, she does dominate.  And why, you may ask, is that a big deal?

That is a big deal because the throws on this list were taken inside of stadiums overseas.

I’m not going to condemn anyone for seeking out windy climates in an effort to break a record or achieve an “A” standard.  But throwing bombs on the California coast has zero relevance when it comes time to go up against the best of the best at the Olympics or the World Championships, which are held…inside of stadiums overseas.

In order to contend for a medal, a female discus thrower must set aside  the distractions of travel and the lack of those lovely ocean breezes and throw at least 65 meters.

Among American discus throwers, Gia has become the best at doing just that.

There are those who would argue that Stephanie Brown-Trafton should be considered the best ever after winning  gold at the 2008 Olympics. I am a big fan of Stephanie, who is on the comeback trail after giving birth nine months ago. Last week, at the Chicagoland Throws meet she told me that she is feeling good and just needs to build up her strength levels in order to return to peak form. But the peak form that got her the gold in Beijing in 2008 with a throw of 64.74m is unlikely to win her a spot on the medal stand in Beijing in 2015 or in Rio in 2016.  Sondra Perkovic, the defending World and Olympic champion, has shown a consistent knack for throwing 68-69m at the biggest meets. Australia’s Dani Samuels is having a great year, and there are a handful of others who have recently thrown 65+m in stadiums.

The only American thrower ever who has shown the ability to hang with that crowd is Gia.

Actually, she has done more than hang with them as of late. Last week in Glasgow in this stadium…

 glas stad 2

 …she handed Perkovic her first loss of the season by launching a PR throw of 67.59m.

Gia is now the only thrower to have defeated Perkovic over the last two years. That alone might qualify her as the best.

 
                

 

 

Where does that leave us? Part 2: The Women

My last post examined the prospects of US men making the finals and/or medaling next year in Beijing and the following year in Rio.

Now, let’s consider the ladies.

The Discus

Moscow Results:

8th:62.80m  Bronze: 64.96m  Silver: 66.28m  Gold: 67.99m

Sacramento Results:

3rd:  Shelbi Vaughan 59.75m

2nd: Liz Podominick 59.96m

1st: Gia Lewis-Smallwood 65.96m

2011 IAAF World Outdoor Championships

Gia’s career seemed dead in the water just a couple of years ago, but she pulled off a rare trick for an American thrower: she found a way to stay in the sport long enough to find her groove.  She finished fifth in Moscow, and has shown the ability to throw 64-65 meters overseas in stadiums.  She is also, to my knowledge, the only thrower to defeat Sandra Perkovic in the past two years. (Fun Fact: over 600 people have climbed Mt. Everest in that time).  The big question is, can Gia at thirty-five years of age hold off the ravages of time long enough to get on the podium in Beijing and Rio?  If she does, it will be a great, great moment for American throwing.

(This just in! As I am about to post this article, Gia has thrown 65.59m to take third at the Paris DL meet)

Another question: Can 2008 Olympic champ Stephanie Brown Trafton come all the way back from taking time off to have a baby? She had to be encouraged by her performance in Sacramento (58.84m), but she and Gia are about the same age, so…

A final question: What about the youngsters? Shelbi Vaughan is a special athlete, but she cannot be expected to throw bombs overseas in August after enduring the rigors of the NCAA season, especially if she continues playing volleyball. Whitney Ashley (fifth in Sacramento at 58.68m) is another gifted athlete waiting in the wings. (Fun Fact: At the 2013 Adidas Grand Prix meet, Perkovic’s coach told me that he thought Ashley had a lot of potential but that she should reverse instead of using a fixed-feet finish).

Outlook: In my dream scenario (the one that does not involve Angelina Jolie) Gia and Stephanie both elbow their way onto the podium next to Perkovic in Beijing or Rio.

 

The Javelin 

Moscow Results:

8th: 61.30m  Bronze: 65.09m  Silver:66.60m  Gold: 69.05m

Sacramento Results:

3rd: Leigh Petranoff  57.80m

2nd: Brittany Borman 62.05

1st: Kara Patterson 62.43m

kara

 Does anyone else view the javelin as a fickle event?  Three weeks ago in New York, I watched the Australian javeliner Kathryn Mitchell throw 66.02m easy as pie and Linda Stahl (a German) throw 67.32m easy as strudel. Then, earlier this week at the Lausanne DL meeting, they went 58.23m and 63.20m respectively.

Outlook: Given the “on any given day” nature of the event, it is entirely possible that Borman or Patterson could make the final in Beijing and/or Rio. A medal, though, is unlikely. Their best route to the podium at a major international meet is to pull a Gia and stay in the sport into their thirties (Mitchell, by the way, is having her best season at the age of thirty-one).

 

The Shot Put 

Moscow Results:

8th: 18.09m  Bronze: 19.95m Silver:20.41m  Gold: 20.88m

Sacramento Results:

3rd: Tia Brooks 18.83m

2nd: Felisha Johnson 19.18m

1st: Michelle Carter 19.45m

carter 2

Loads of potential among this threesome of young gliders, two of whom have already garnered significant international experience. Tia was 8th in Moscow, Michelle missed the bronze by a centimeter.

Outlook: There is no reason the US should not have two shot finalists in Beijing and Rio. And after that?  Valerie Adams is only twenty-nine, but the Herculean effort behind her seemingly effortless domination of the sport (two Olympic, three Indoor World and four Outdoor World golds since 2007) has left her contemplating retirement after 2016. Carter, who threw an American record 20.24m last season, is only a year younger than Val, but seems to be just coming into her own. If she can hang in there for another Olympic cycle after Rio, she might be able to contend for that rather large open space at the top of major championship podiums.

The Hammer

Moscow Results:

8th: 72.70m  Bronze: 75.58m  Silver: 78.46m  Gold: 78.80m

Sacramento Results:

3rd: Amber Campbell 71.35m 

2nd: Jessica Cosby Toruga 71.72m

1st: Amanda Bingson 75.07m 

bingson

In the past two seasons, three American women (Bingson, Cosby Toruga, and Jeneva McCall) have thrown 74 meters or better. Cosby Toruga is thirty-two, but both McCall and Bingson are just two years out of college.  Same for Gwen Berry, who threw 73.81m last year.

Outlook: For Beijing and Rio, getting two in the top eight is certainly attainable. Beyond that, one or more of the Bingson/McCall/Berry trio needs to get her PB into the 77-78 meter range to increase the odds of hitting a medal-winning 76m in a major championship.

 

 

 

So where does that leave us? Part 1: the men

The 2014 USATF championships are in the books, but with no World or Olympic titles to shoot for this year it seems like a proper moment to size up the state of the throwing events in this country and to speculate on what it will take to medal or at least make the finals next year in Beijing and the following year in Rio.

The Hammer

Here are some results from last year’s Worlds in Moscow:

8th Place: 77.57m   Bronze: 79.36m   Silver: 80.30m  Gold: 81.97m

Sacramento results:

3rd: Chris Cralle 72.83m 

 2nd: AG Kruger 73.34m

1st: Kibwe Johnson 74.16m

kibwe

 Kibwe’s PB is 80.31m, but at 33 years of age his chances of making the finals in 2015 or 2016 appear slim. Same for Kruger, who is 35. Chris Cralle is young (26) but with a PR of 74.55m he is going to have to find a way to stay in the sport long enough to get to the point where he can throw 77m to 80m consistently.

Outlook: Not so good. It would be a huge step forward just to get someone in the final eight in Beijing or Rio.

 

The Javelin

Moscow results:

8th: 80.03m    Bronze: 86.23m   Silver:87.07m   Gold: 87.17m

Sacramento results:

3rd: Tim Glover 78.87m

2nd: Riley Dolezal 79.27m

1st: Sean Furey 81.10m

furey

If 80m gets you into the final again in 2015, all three of these guys would obviously have a shot. A medal? Hmmmm. Glover is the youngest of the three at 24, and has the longest PR (84.01m) but he graduated college this spring and must find a stable training environment if he is to lead the US to international respectability.

Outlook: Forget about 2015 or 2016, but my 2020 vision says that if Glover can stay with it he might be the guy to break through.

 

 The Discus:

Moscow results:

8th: 63.38m   Bronze: 65.19m  Silver: 68.36m Gold: 69.11m

Sacramento Results:

3rd: Mason Finley 61.04m

2nd: Bryan Powlen 61.05m

1st: Hayden Reed 62.19m

reed

The good news? The 26-year-old Powlen is the old man of this crew. Finley has decided to give up shot putting to focus on the disc, and Reed is clearly a fearless young man. The bad news?  There is a veteran group of discus throwers on the international scene all of whom have shown the ablility to throw 65+ in stadiums–68+ in the case of by Robert Harting, Piotr Malachowski,  Gerd Kanter, and Ehsan Hadadi.

Outlook:  As a Chicago White Sox fan, I love to make fun of the Cubs and their hundred-years-and-counting title drought. The suffering of their supporters has reached Biblical proportions, with no end in sight. Sadly, American discus fans are in the same boat.

The Shot Put

Moscow results:

8th: 20.39m  Bronze: 21.34m  Silver: 21.57m Gold: 21.73m

Sacramento Results:

3rd: Reese Hoffa 20.78m

2nd: Kurt Roberts 21.47m

1st: Joe Kovacs 22.03m

joe

Consider the humble cactus. It flourishes in the type of dry, barren soil that kills off most other plants. Same for American shotputters. No one knows exactly what factors have conspired to keep the United States from regularly producing world class jav, hammer, and disc throwers,  but whatever those factors may be (lack of governmental support, the predominance of football, an evil curse) they seem to have no affect whatsoever on our ability to crank out excellent shot putters.

Looking  at the numbers those guys put up in Sacramento, would anyone guess that  three men who have thrown over 21 meters this season were forced by injury to withdraw from the competition?

My teenaged daughter would call that “sick!”

Outlook: Hard to imagine an elephant fitting in a room full of American shot putters, but it’s not going away until one of them wins an Olympic gold medal.  Will our phalanx of phenoms finally overwhelm those cursed European gliders? Majewski is getting long in the tooth and has been injured quite a bit lately, but Storl is still young and still…Storl.  If nothing else, the shot final in Beijing and Rio should be riveting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Glover ready for the next step

glover

A two-time NCAA champion while throwing for Illinois State University, Tim Glover will try to show that he belongs at the top of the professional level as well when he competes in the USATF Championships this Sunday in Sacramento.

Glover announced himself as a world class javeliner this April when he unloaded a world-leading  84.01m in Knoxville. Currently, that throw ranks him 13th in the world.

It is a bit remarkable that Tim was able to unleash a throw of that caliber because at the time he was still attending classes at ISU three days per week from 9am until 3pm.

He attributes his improvement partially to an increase in strength.  With a 315-lb bench press, a 500-lb back squat and a 319-lb power clean the javelin has been “feeling light” in his hand.

Also contributing to his breakthrough is his ability to maintain speed on the runway.

“Last year my coach (Scott Bennett) came in and we worked all speed. I dropped some weight and focused on how fast I could go..never could catch one, or any for that matter. I would always miss the point and it  got frustrating but I kept reminding myself that this year was a transition year and if I wanted to improve in the future the speed would have to increase. This year my speed isn’t crazy on the runway but it is faster and more comfortable. I am still working on keeping it up through the crossovers and also working on driving out not up.”

Coach Bennett agrees that Tim’s increased strength has been a big plus, and he also credits Tim’s improvement in “blowing the right side through to the brake” during the last two steps of his throws.

Bennett also believes that Glover has the “perfect demeanor” for his event, describing his as “modest, independent, and even-tempered.”

That temperament will be put to the test on Sunday by a field that includes veterans such as Cyrus Hostetler, Sean Furey, and Craig Kinsley, and last year’s US champion Riley Dolezal. Also competing is  the physically imposing Sam Humphreys. At the Tuscon Elite meet earlier this season,  Humphreys– who looks like he might be able to throw a telephone pole 80 meters– defeated Glover in a battle to determine who would get the final spot in the jav field at the Prefontaine Diamond League meeting that took place over Memorial Day weekend.

Glover is still waiting for his first chance to go up against the world’s best.

A win on Sunday would go a long way toward establishing Glover as a consistently world class performer and possibly get him invited to some meets in Europe where he could show that he is ready to take the next next step.

 

 

 

Queen Val at the Adidas Grand Prix

In ancient Greece, Olympic champions were feted with banquets and parades, immortalized in bronze and marble.

In modern New York, they are largely ignored aside from the occasional bystander who asks, “Do you play basketball?”

Such is the fate of Valerie Adams, two-time Olympic shot put champion, arguably the greatest putter in history but perhaps born 2,500 years too late.

Val came into the Adidas Grand Prix meet in New York City last weekend looking for her 50th consecutive win. Hoping to derail the Adams Express was a field that featured Michelle Carter (who broke the American record last year with toss of 20.24m) and Yevgeniya Kolodko (the London silver medalist and owner of a 20.48m PB).

I was  stoked to get a look at Kolodko and her excellent glide technique, and though I was rooting for Val to get number 50, I hoped that Carter and Kolodko would push her to extend her season best of 20.46m.

Alas, t’was not to be. In spite of perfect weather that had helped produce meet records in each of the two previous throwing events–Robert Harting’s 68.24m in the discus and Linda Stahl’s 67.32m in the javelin–and a raucous crowd that cheered Bohdan Bondarenko  and Mutaz Essa Barshim through the greatest high jump dual in history, none of the women putters could get it going.

Carter opened with a respectable 19.51m, but that turned out to be her only throw over 19.00m. Kolodko had nothing. I could tell she was in trouble during warmups when she took about a million throws, none of which looked sharp, and she fared even worse during the competition with a 17.25m sandwiched by two fouls. I have to think she was injured, but I didn’t get a chance to ask her as she packed up and left while the top six took their final three throws.

Meanwhile, the Carter/Adams dual played out as more weird than dramatic.  Val’s best in the first three rounds was 19.31m, but with the champ on the ropes and vulnerable to an upset, Carter  followed her 19.51m with an uninspired-looking 18.57m and 18.39m.

It must have been a strange feeling for Val not to be the final thrower after the re-ordering, and she quickly set things right with a 19.52m to take the lead. But even after extending that lead with a fifth-round 19.68m, you could tell she was not herself. After each attempt, she looked for advice from a gentleman watching from across the track. Val is coached by two very large Swiss fellows–Werner Gunthor and Jean-Piere Egger–and this man was neither Swiss nor large, so I’m not sure who he was but the advice he shouted to her (“Put your whole body behind it! Get it going on this one!”) was heartfelt and kind of sweet. The sort of advice one might expect to hear shouted by a parent at a middle-school track meet.

After the competition, I had a nice chat with Val that you can view here:

As always, she was humble and upbeat, and afterwards she strode off looking like a champion prize-fighter from back in the day, a bit weary but ready to move on to the next town and flatten the next challenger.

Forgive me for one minute, but I feel the need to switch to Negative Nancy mode.  As I was writing this article and reflecting back on what, by any measurement (5 meet records, 5 world-leading performances) was a fantastic track meet I realized that there was one aspect of it that bothered me.

On this sun-kissed day at Icahn Stadium, the shot put ran concurrently with (and right next to) that magnificent high jump competition.  As the bar was raised closer and closer to a world-record height, the attention of the crowd became completely focused on that event. By the time Bondarenko and Barshim started taking attempts at 2.46m (the world record is 2.45) I’m pretty sure that myself, my friend Peter, and the guy shouting encouragement to Val were the only people in the stadium paying attention to the shot put.

But that’s as it should be. Witnessing a world record is a big, honking deal.

What bothers me is that Valerie Adams, arguably the best ever at her event, will never be involved in a competition like that. The world record in the women’s shot (Natalia Lisovskaya, 22.63m, set in 1987)is so far out there (Val’s PB is 21.24m) and so obviously the result of PEDs that nobody in this age of random drug testing is ever going to beat it.

And that sucks, for Val because it unfairly diminishes her accomplishments, and for shot put fans because it deprives us of the chance to experience a moment in the shot equal to the moment when Bondarenko or Barshim began their approach to the bar and an entire stadium held its collective breath.

Okay. Just had to get that off my chest.

After the meet, my very patient wife, my friend Peter, and I had a fantastic dinner at an Italian place in midtown and then stopped by the athletes’ hotel to have a drink in the lounge overlooking the lobby.  Several beers later, we spotted Val and a couple of friends just back from dinner themselves. I grabbed Peter and dragged him down to meet her, my wife trailing us with her cellphone at the ready.  I’m not sure exactly what we said to her, nor can I guarantee that anything we said made much sense, but she listened to us patiently and agreed to pose for a picture.

val in 14

That’s no basketball player, folks. That’s the best shot putter ever.

 

 

 

 

der Harting at the Adidas Grand Prix

Do you ever fantasize about things you’d like to have a reason to say at some point in your life?

I’m a fifty-year-old guy, so tops on my list are statements like…

“For god’s sake, I wish Angelina Jolie would stop sexting me!”

Or…

“Good news, honey!  The doctor says I actually need to gain weight!”

I’m also a throws fan who loves the discus and in particular the way the Germans throw the discus so also high on my list would be something along the lines of…

“I’m going to watch discus film with Robert Harting.”

And last Saturday, I actually got to say that. Here’s how it happened:

Anyone who knows me knows that the one really, really smart thing I’ve done in my life was to marry the Most Patient Woman in the World. This woman knows how much I love the throws, so last weekend she accompanied me on a trip to cover the Adidas Grand Prix Diamond League Meeting in New York. Due to the demands of television, the men’s discus competition (featuring most of the guys who made the final in last year’s World Championships) was the first event of the day, and I had a primo view of the competition.

adidas grant prix 14

Standing next to me throughout was a woman named Vera, the manager of the German throwing contingent competing that day. It was fun watching the meet with her as she fretted over the wind (it seemed to constantly change directions), beamed when her throwers performed well (Harting and javelin thrower Linda Stahl both set meet records), suffered when they did not (Martin Wierig did not advance past the first three throws), and made the occasional tart comment (when I noted the hugeness of one of the competitors she replied, “And yet, his head is so small”).

A bonus of watching the competition alongside Vera was that as the discus ended and the women’s javelin began, Martin Wierig came over and sat by her. I knew he was bummed about his performance, but a friend of mine is a big fan of Martin’s so I just had to get a picture.  I asked as nicely as one should when approaching a 6’6″ man in a lousy mood,  and he graciously complied.

wierig

The dude visible over Martin’s left shoulder is the Australian thrower Benn Harradine, on his way over to watch teammate Kathyrn Mitchell compete in the jav.

Harradine, it turns out, is a really nice guy and a lot of fun to talk to. You can find part of our conversation here:

While Harradine and I were chatting, along came Robert Harting. The next thing I know, the three of us are standing along a fence watching the jav and shooting the breeze.

Harting, though more reserved than Harradine, is also a nice guy and a lot more thoughtful than one might think if one’s only impression of him was formed while watching video of him tear his shirt off after winning the World Championships and Olympics.

Here are vids of two conversations I had with him:

He actually did remove his shirt while watching the jav, as did Harradine and Ehsan Hadadi who came over as well.  But there was nothing celebratory in the gesture. All three were simply trying to stay cool. I was tempted to join them in going shirtless but didn’t want to intimidate anyone.

Anyway, at one point Harting began telling Harradine that in spite of throwing 68 meters, he felt like his technique was off. “I need to get pictures from the side,” he said.

Remarkably, my friend Peter Trofimuk was also attending the meet and had filmed the discus competition from the grandstand located across the track from the side of the cage. Just the view that Harting wanted to see.  I immediately walked over to the grandstand and reached up to Peter. In response to his quizzical look, I uttered those immortal words. “I am going to watch video with Robert Harting.”

I felt terrible that Peter, as big a throws fanatic as I am, had to sit in the stands and watch me watch video with Harting, but I got over it pretty quickly.  Here is Peter, expressing his frustration at dinner later that evening:

peter

Unfortunately, the viewer on the video camera was small and the midday sun was large, so Harting could not see his throws very well. After a minute, he handed the camera back to me and asked if I could post them on youtube and send him the link.

I agreed, and did my best to hide my disappointment. I have watched video of Harting’s throws approximately twelve million times, but to do it with him standing there providing commentary?  Holy guacamole.

It was still a great day at a great track meet. More on that later.

 

 

Keeping Up With The Big Boys

 

Size matters in the shot put.

There’s just no getting around it.

Exhibit A:

              Dan phone may 2013 011

From right to left, World Indoor Champion Ryan Whiting, two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski, my friend Peter Trofimuk, Joe Kovacs (currently ranked fourth in the world), and World Outdoor Championships finalist Cory Martin.

Exhibit B:

EPSON scanner image

From right to left, Dan McQuaid the author of this article, and Christian Cantwell one of the greatest putters of all time.

What do these fine throwers have in common? They are biiiiiig boys. I’m 6’2″, 215lbs (most of it in the biceps) and Christian makes me look…well…kind of wimpy.

Same for Cory, Tomasz, and Ryan.

There is one exception here, though, and that is Joe Kovacs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Joe is clearly not a normal human being. He is tremendously fast and strong. But, so are the other guys in those photos, and they are much larger than Joe.

Yet, at the recent Diamond League meet in Shanghai, Kovacs defeated all of them with the exception of Cantwell, who beat him by 21 centimeters.

How did this happen?  Let’s take a look.

Here are Whiting, Cantwell, and Kovacs at the point at which their right foot first leaves the ground:

Whiting…

ryan 1 

Cantwell…

can 2

Kovacs…

joe 2

Though Cantwell does not bend his left knee as much as the other two, it looks to me like all three are adhering to a similar technical template.  Notice that each keeps his left shoulder closed as the right foot leaves the ground.  This gives them a chance to get their right hip and leg ahead of their upper body as they run the ring.

Whiting…

ryan 2

Cantwell…

can 3

Kovacs…

joe 3

Christian does not sweep his right leg as wide as the other two, but all three have kept their right shoulder back as their right hip begins to pull them out of the back of the ring.

Here are all three at the point where their right foot touches down in the center of the ring.

Whiting…

ryan 3

Cantwell…

can 4

Kovacs…

joe 4

Here is the first sign that Kovacs might be taking a slightly different approach with his technique.

All three have done a great job of keeping their upper body passive and pulling their left leg out of the back of the ring so that they can get both feet grounded in the power position before their shoulders begin turning into the throw.

 Joe, however, seems to be more aggressive about accentuating the separation between his right hip and his shoulders as his right foot touches down. Notice that his right foot is turned farther as it touches the concrete, and that he is really working that left arm across his chest in an effort to keep the shot back.

Here are our fearsome threesome at the moment the left foot touches down in the power position.

Whiting…

ryan 4

Cantwell…

can 5

Kovacs…

joe 5

All three have their weight back on a bent right leg as their left arm sweeps forward to set up a pre-stretching of the chest muscles, but look at the difference in the right elbow as the left foot grounds.

Kovacs is much more wrapped than the other two, thus giving himself a chance to use every ounce of his leg strength to accelerate the shot.

Each of these throws was a bomb. Whiting…21.31m.  Kovacs…21.52m.  Cantwell…21.73m.

But I have to believe that the reason Joe is able to hang with guys who have a significant size advantage is because of his ability to hit a really solid power position.

–McQ

 

Three Things I Know… Part 2 Mac Wilkins

Three Things I know (No Secrets here)

Part Two : Work a Wide Right Leg from the back to the middle

These three high level concepts will work well as a tune up before the big meets in May and June.  You won’t get bogged down with complex details and “forget how to throw”.   They are also foundation concepts that can and should be mastered from the beginning of your throwing career.

The three moves are good for advanced and beginning throwers as well.  They are easy to grasp and execute.  The trick is executing them well in the whole movement of the throw.

Each of these three concepts have many sub parts or details that can be explored and I will list a few of them.  Primarily, though, I am looking at these as high level movements, positions and rhythm that can be approached with the end result in mind.  Work one idea or all three per throw in training or competition.

1.    See the Horizon to the Target (throw direction)

Slow Down, see the horizon to the target.  Let the eyes and left arm lead the body to the target.

2.    Work a Wide Right Leg from the Back of the circle to the Middle

The Right Leg is your engine for the throw

The wide right leg works/races ahead of the paused or slowed left side to create torque.

Starting too fast in the unwind and first turn with the left side makes the right leg go fast to catch up to the left side.  To go fast it works like a hammer thrower’s right leg, short, fast and close to the left knee.  This narrow and fast right leg has NO POWER in the middle of the circle.  It has a short radius and is trying to catch up to the fast upper body.  It never does in this case.  It is forced to create a fast to slower rhythm.  Longer and slower on the first turn to shorter and faster in the middle is the correct but counter intuitive rhythm for the throw.

“On your mark.  Get Set…”

We are only trying to get down to a powerful start position at the back of the circle like a sprinter in the blocks in the “set” position at the start of a race.  Think about what position will create the most power for you when facing the throw direction in the single leg support phase.  How can you create the most linear AND rotational force with your right leg?  How can you best make your hips rotate as fast as possible in the middle of the circle?  Feet and knees close together is not a powerful starting position.  A wide right leg out the back of the circle with the left thigh vertical (left hip out) providing some unseat to the target just naturally feels powerful.  See the photos below.

Also note the upper body posture.

Ish POst

No, he really isn’t throwing here, just finding the position during a competition.

LJ WS left foot slide and drop 001

LJ Silvester, the Original, First over 60m, First over 70m.

WS Wide RLeg side

 

 

Mac Furth Hang

Throwers start with different timing and different right leg action at the back.  LJ Silvester and Wolfgang Schmidt got their right foot off the ground sooner than anyone in relation to the turning of the left side.  Their right leg swept forward leading with the inside of the thigh.  Others (Lars Reidel below) keep the right foot on the ground longer at the back and lead more with the top of the thigh with a bit of a hitch kick action.

In any case:

1. All who do this effectively will show in the shortened position a right leg with the foot slightly under or behind the knee similar to  a sprinter’s leg position.

2. The key is to not turn the left side too fast so the right leg cannot swing wide before shortening and accelerating ahead of the left side, creating torque.  When you have that down, don’t forget Point #1 about pausing or slowing the left side somewhere while turning on the left leg  to ensure the right leg can get ahead to create torque.

Using the Wide Right Leg DOES NOT require a 600lb squat.  It is a position you move through.

Loly 90 degrees

14 yr. old non weight trained female with wide right leg.

Whatever you do at the back of the circle you must repeat at the front, whether good or bad.  If you want to throw the discus with your right hip ahead of the right shoulder (for right handed throwers) then work the right hip (wide right leg) at the back to the middle of the circle to lead the upper body.  If you lead with your head and shoulders at the start you will lead into  the throw with your head and shoulders first in the delivery.   Good Luck with that one.

Other side notes.

Left Side Drive v Right Leg Engine – Its OK to push with the left leg at the back of the circle.  Just maintain the integrity of the throw rhythm.  You do want to load the left foot as you turn at the back getting into the “set position”.  Getting the left foot down as fast as possible at the front is NOT the goal.  Getting the left foot down AT THE RIGHT TIME  is the goal.

Keep the right foot close to the ground – yes, if you are hopping up in the middle and destroying your rhythm.  But if the right foot is close to the ground all the way, you are losing power by having a shorter right leg radius.  Check out the long right leg on Ms “Seventy Meter Sandy” Perkovic below.  She’s not skimming the ground with the right foot.

Below are More Long, Wide, and Relatively Slower Right Legs waiting to shorten and accelerate the rotation of the hips and discus/shot put.

Guess Who?

rh wide right rear

 

perk wide

 

lars wide

 

DSCN0245

Over 110 video lessons on the shot and discus at

www.the wilkinsreview.com

Anita’s Taxi is Here

Anita’s Taxi is here!

Anita Taxi

Here is how to do it right if you really want to be successful.  Pay attention to the details and do what is needed.

For the last four years Anita Wlodarczyk, the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World Championships silver medalist in the women’s hammer throw, comes to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista (San Diego) CA to train.  She is accompanied by her  coach Krzystof Kaliszewski, and physiotherapist Joanna Madajczyk.

Doing drills correctly over and over is a big part of her program.  There is no magic, just a good plan, hard work, good technique and a commitment to doing everything the right way.  For example; delivery work with the weight.  Wind and throw 50 throws right sided, 50 throws left sided.

FYI – In addition to their coaching and physio/massage responsibilities, Joanna pulls the hammers from the ground and loads them in the taxi’s trailer.   Krzystof ‘drives’ the car back to the circle.  Anita throws the hammers back out into the field to complete their continuous round trips.

PS: click on the photo to expand it and get all the detail!

 

 

by Dan McQuaid & friends