This Olympic Track and Field World Record Will Never Be Broken
The world of track and field has seen records that stood for ten, 20 even 25 years before being shattered.
There's been a handful of marks that most believed would never be touched. Most notably was the 1968 Mexico Olympics, where Bob Beamon of the United States broke the world long jump record by nearly two feet, going 29' 2". To this day, it's considered the most technically perfectly executed effort ever done in track history. It's been broken down on film endless times.
But then Mike Powell of the US came along and jumped 29' 4" in 1991. He still holds that mark today.
However, there's one mark that I believe will never be touched. It was not set during an Olympic year, but this athlete did win his share of gold medals. It's in the hammer throw. It's an event I competed in college at Whitworth in Spokane from 1983-86.
Who Makes a Good Hammer Thrower?
Hammer throwing is perfect for the athlete who may be a little too small for the bulk of the shot put, not tall or lanky enough for discus or javelin. Many throwers are surprisingly small, if you consider many shot putters are 275lbs plus.
It's a 16-lb 'shot' attached to a four-foot wire, with a handle on the end. The athlete winds the hammer over their head, then begins a series of turns across the ring, whirling like a top before letting it go. It's an absolute rush.
Right-handed throwers rotate left, lefties rotate right. I was a leftie.
The record in question was set on August 30, 1986 at the European Championships in Stuttgart Germany.
Youri Sedykh of the Soviet Union set the mark with an astronomical throw of 284 feet 7 inches. Even before he set the mark, my teammates and I at Whitworth used to watch him and other Europeans because at that time American training films were not very good.
He had a monster series, three times breaking the European record, before breaking the world mark. Since then few have come close. In fact, prior to the Rio Olympics, Business Insider ran an article saying the record may never be eclipsed.
In the women's hammer DeAnna Price of the US is a good bet to medal, and could even win the gold. She's got the 2nd best throw in history. But it's a relatively new event on the ladies' side, and honestly, the women's programs are outdoing the men's in the U.S. By the way, the women use a 12 lb. hammer to the men's 16.
Why Is US So Far Behind World in Men's Event?
Largely because no high schools include hammer (and less than 25% have javelin for that matter) in their track and field programs, America lags far behind the world, especially with men. The American men's record is just over 271 feet. Impressive, but 14 feet behind Sedyhk's mark.
In college, I was a 160-65 foot thrower, decent for small college in 1985-86. I threw with a guy who was a NAIA All-American who was around 180 feet. I still have an old rusty ball sitting in the shed, might have to dust it off, dig out my old smooth shoes, and see if I remember how to do it.
In the meantime, watch this video of Sedkyh and the sheer power he displayed. This is his world record series.