The javelin throw is a track and field event where the javelin, a spear about 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) in length, is thrown. The javelin thrower gains momentum by running within a predetermined area. Javelin throwing is an event of both the men's decathlon and the women's heptathlon.
During the era between the Mycenaean times and the Roman Empire, the javelin was a commonly used offensive weapon. Being lighter than the spear, the javelin would be thrown rather than thrust and thus allowed long distance attacks against one’s enemy. Athletes, however, used javelins that were much lighter than military ones because the idea of the event was to demonstrate distance rather than penetration. The one major difference between the javelin of the ancient games and the javelin of more modern times is a leather thong, called an ankyle that was wound around the middle of the shaft. Athletes would hold the javelin by the thong and when the javelin was released this thong unwound giving the javelin a spiraled flight.
The javelin throw has a particularly strong tradition in the Nordic nations of Europe. Of the 69 Olympic medals that have been awarded in the men's javelin, 32 have gone to competitors from Norway, Sweden or Finland. Finland is the only nation to have ever swept the medals at a currently recognized official Olympics, and has done so twice, in 1920 and 1932. (However, Sweden swept the first four places at the 1906 Intercalated Games. Finland's 1920 sweep also featured an additional fourth place finish. Sweeping the first four places is no longer possible, as only three entrants per country are allowed.) In 1912 Finland also swept the medals in the only appearance in the Olympics of two-handed javelin, an event in which the implement was separately thrown with both the right hand and the left hand and the marks were added together. Quite popular in Finland and Sweden at the time, this event soon faded into obscurity, together with similar variations of the shot and the discus; Sweden's Yngve Häckner, with his total of 114.28 m from 1917, was the last official world record holder.
Rules and competitions
The size, shape, minimum weight, and center of gravity of the javelin are all defined by IAAF rules. In international competition, men throw a javelin between 2.6 and 2.7 m (8 ft 6 in and 8 ft 10 in) in length and 800 g (28 oz) in weight, and women throw a javelin between 2.2 and 2.3 m (7 ft 3 in and 7 ft 7 in) in length and 600 g (21 oz) in weight. The javelin has a grip, about 150 mm (5.9 in) wide, made of cord and located at the javelin's center of gravity (0.9 to 1.06 m (2 ft 11 in to 3 ft 6 in) from the javelin tip for the men's javelin and 0.8 to 0.92 m (2 ft 7 in to 3 ft 0 in) from the javelin tip for the women's javelin).
Unlike the other throwing events (shotput, discus, and hammer), the technique used to throw the javelin is dictated by IAAF rules and "non-orthodox" techniques are not permitted. The javelin must be held at its grip and thrown overhand, over the athlete's shoulder or upper arm. Further, the athlete is prohibited from turning completely around such that his back faces the direction of throw. In practice, this prevents athletes from attempting to spin and hurl the javelin sidearm in the style of a discus throw. Instead of being confined to a circle, javelin throwers have a runway 4 m (13 ft) wide and at least 30 m (98 ft) in length, ending in a curved arc from which their throw will be measured; athletes typically use this distance to gain momentum in a "run-up" to their throw. Like the other throwing events, the competitor may not leave the throwing area (the runway) until after the implement lands. The need to come to a stop behind the throwing arc limits both how close the athlete can come to the line before the release as well as the maximum speed achieved at the time of release.
The javelin is thrown towards a "sector" covering an angle of 28.96 degrees extending outwards from the arc at the end of the runway. A throw is legal only if the tip of the javelin lands within this sector, and the tip strikes the ground before any other part of the javelin. The distance of the throw is measured from the throwing arc to the point where the tip of the javelin landed, rounded down to the nearest centimeter.
Competition rules are similar to other throwing events: a round consists of one attempt by each competitor in turn, and competitions typically consist of three to six rounds. The competitor with the longest single legal throw (over all rounds) is the winner; in the case of a tie the competitors' second-longest throws are also considered. Competitions involving large numbers of athletes sometimes use a "cut": all competitors compete in the first three rounds, but only athletes who are currently among the top eight or have achieved some minimum distances are permitted to attempt to improve on their distance in additional rounds (typically three).
On 1 April 1986, the men's javelin (800 grams (1.76 lb)) was redesigned by the governing body (the IAAF Technical Committee). They decided to change the rules for javelin construction because of the increasingly frequent flat landings and the resulting discussions and protests when these attempts were declared valid or invalid by competition judges. The world record had also crept up to a potentially dangerous level, 104.80 m (343.8 ft) by Uwe Hohn. With throws exceeding 100 meters, it was becoming difficult to safely stage the competition within the confines of a stadium infield. The javelin was redesigned so that the centre of gravity was moved 4 cm (1.6 in) forward, while the surface areas in front of and behind the centre of gravity were reduced and increased, respectively. This had the effect of reducing lift and increasing the downward pitching moment. This brings the nose down earlier, reducing the flight distance by around 10% but also causing the javelin to stick in the ground more consistently. In 1999, the women's javelin (600 grams (1.32 lb)) was similarly redesigned.
Modifications that manufacturers made to recover some of the lost distance, by increasing tail drag (using holes, rough paint or dimples), were forbidden at the end of 1991 and marks made using implements with such modifications removed from the record books. Seppo Räty had achieved a world record of 96.96 m (318.1 ft) in 1991 with such a design, but this record was nullified.
Technique and training
Unlike other throwing events, javelin allows the competitor to build speed over a considerable distance. In addition to the core and upper body strength necessary to deliver the implement, javelin throwers benefit from the agility and athleticism typically associated with running and jumping events. Thus, the athletes share more physical characteristics with sprinters than with others, although they still need the skill of heavier throwing athletes.
Traditional free-weight training is often used by javelin throwers. Metal-rod exercises and resistance band exercises can be used to train a similar action to the javelin throw to increase power and intensity. Without proper strength and flexibility, throwers can become extremely injury prone, especially in the shoulder and elbow. Core stability can help in the transference of physical power and force from the ground through the body to the javelin. Stretching and sprint training are used to enhance the speed of the athlete at the point of release, and subsequently, the speed of the javelin. At release, a javelin can reach speeds approaching 113 km/h (70 mph).
US High School
Due to the fear of liability, the javelin throw is not an event in NFHS high school competition in 36 states, though USATF youth competitions for the same aged athletes do hold javelin competitions. At various points in time, high schools have attempted to create substitute events, including the softball throw, football throw and the grenade throw, throwing different objects under rules similar to javelin throw rules.
Javelin throwers have been selected as a main motif in numerous collectors' coins. One of the recent samples is the €5 Finnish 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics commemorative coin, minted in 2005 to commemorate the 2005 World Championships in Athletics. On the obverse of the coin, a javelin thrower is depicted. On the reverse, legs of hurdle runners with the Helsinki Olympic Stadium tower in the background can be seen.
All-time top ten (current models)
- (Updated June 2012)
|1||98.48||Jan Železný (CZE)||Jena||1996-05-25|
|2||93.09||Aki Parviainen (FIN)||Kuortane||1999-06-26|
|3||92.61||Sergey Makarov (RUS)||Sheffield||2002-06-30|
|4||92.60||Raymond Hecht (GER)||Oslo||1995-07-21|
|5||91.69||Konstadinós Gatsioúdis (GRE)||Kuortane||2000-06-24|
|6||91.59||Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR)||Oslo||2006-06-02|
|7||91.53||Tero Pitkämäki (FIN)||Kuortane||2005-06-26|
|8||91.46||Steve Backley (GBR)||Auckland||1992-01-25|
|9||91.29||Breaux Greer (USA)||Indianapolis||2007-06-21|
|10||90.73||Vadims Vasiļevskis (LAT)||Tallinn||2007-07-22|
- (Updated September 2014)
|1||72.28||Barbora Špotáková (CZE)||Stuttgart||2008-09-13|
|2||71.99||Mariya Abakumova (RUS)||Daegu||2011-09-02|
|3||71.70||Osleidys Menéndez (CUB)||Helsinki||2005-08-14|
|4||70.20||Christina Obergföll (GER)||Munich||2007-06-23|
|5||69.48||Trine Hattestad (NOR)||Oslo||2000-07-28|
|6||69.35||Sunette Viljoen (RSA)||New York||2012-06-09|
|7||68.34||Steffi Nerius (GER)||Elstal||2008-08-31|
|8||67.67||Sonia Bisset (CUB)||Salamanca||2005-07-06|
|9||67.51||Miréla Manjani (GRE)||Sydney||2000-09-30|
|10||67.32||Linda Stahl (GER)||New York||2014-06-14|
|1971||90.68||Jānis Lūsis (URS)||Helsinki|
|1972||93.80||Jānis Lūsis (URS)||Stockholm|
|1973||94.08||Klaus Wolfermann (FRG)||Leverkusen|
|1974||89.58||Hannu Siitonen (FIN)||Rome|
|1975||91.38||Miklós Németh (HUN)||Budapest|
|1976||94.58||Miklós Németh (HUN)||Montreal|
|1977||94.10||Miklós Németh (HUN)||Stockholm|
|1978||94.22||Michael Wessing (FRG)||Oslo|
|1979||93.84||Pentti Sinersaari (FIN)||Auckland|
|1980||96.72||Ferenc Paragi (HUN)||Tata|
|1981||92.48||Detlef Michel (GDR)||Berlin|
|1982||95.80||Bob Roggy (USA)||Stuttgart|
|1983||99.72||Tom Petranoff (USA)||Westwood|
|1984||104.80||Uwe Hohn (GDR)||Berlin|
|1985||96.96||Uwe Hohn (GDR)||Canberra|
A new model was introduced in 1986, and all records started fresh.
|1980||70.08||Tatyana Biryulina (URS)||Podolsk|
|1981||71.88||Antoaneta Todorova (BUL)||Zagreb|
|1982||74.20||Sofia Sakorafa (GRE)||Hania|
|1983||74.76||Tiina Lillak (FIN)||Tampere|
|1984||74.72||Petra Felke (GDR)||Celje|
|1985||75.40||Petra Felke (GDR)||Schwerin|
|1986||77.44||Fatima Whitbread (GBR)||Stuttgart|
|1987||78.90||Petra Felke (GDR)||Leipzig|
|1988||80.00||Petra Felke (GDR)||Potsdam|
|1989||76.88||Petra Felke (GDR)||Macerata|
|1990||73.08||Petra Felke (GER)||Manaus|
|1991||71.44||Trine Hattestad (NOR)||Fana|
|1992||70.36||Natalya Shikolenko (BLR)||Moscow|
|1993||72.12||Trine Hattestad (NOR)||Oslo|
|1994||71.40||Natalya Shikolenko (BLR)||Seville|
|1995||71.18||Natalya Shikolenko (BLR)||Zürich|
|1996||69.42||Steffi Nerius (GER)||Monaco|
|1997||69.66||Trine Hattestad (NOR)||Helsinki|
|1998||70.10||Tanja Damaske (GER)||Berlin|
A new model was introduced in 1999 and all records started fresh.
|1999||68.19||Trine Hattestad (NOR)||Fana|
|2000||69.48||Trine Hattestad (NOR)||Oslo|
|2001||71.54||Osleidys Menéndez (CUB)||Rethymno|
|2002||67.47||Miréla Manjani (GRE)||Munich|
|2003||66.52||Miréla Manjani (GRE)||Paris|
|2004||71.53||Osleidys Menéndez (CUB)||Athens|
|2005||71.70||Osleidys Menéndez (CUB)||Helsinki|
|2006||66.91||Christina Obergföll (GER)||Athens|
|2007||70.20||Christina Obergföll (GER)||Munich|
|2008||72.28||Barbora Špotáková (CZE)||Stuttgart|
|2009||68.92||Mariya Abakumova (RUS)||Berlin|
|2010||68.89||Mariya Abakumova (RUS)||Doha|
|2011||71.99||Mariya Abakumova (RUS)||Daegu|
|2012||69.55||Barbora Špotáková (CZE)||London|
|2013||70.53||Mariya Abakumova (RUS)||Berlin|
|2014||67.99||Barbora Spotáková (CZE)||Brussels|
- Vélez Blasco, Miguel. "Part III: Llançaments - Tema 12 Javelina" (pdf) (in Catalan). Institut Nacional d'Educació Física de Catalunya / Federació Catalana d'Atletisme. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Javelin throw.|
- (IAAF Statement) – statement of reasons to modify the javelin design
- Masters World Rankings
- IAAF competition rules