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.
German javelin thrower Thomas Röhler in 2011
The javelin was part of the pentathlon of the Ancient Olympic Games beginning in 708 BC in two disciplines, distance and target throw. The javelin was thrown with the aid of a thong, called ankyle 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.
Throwing javelin-like poles into targets was revived in Germany and Sweden in the early 1870s. In Sweden, these poles developed into the modern javelin, and throwing them for distance became a common event there and in Finland in the 1880s. The rules continued to evolve over the next decades; originally, javelins were thrown with no run-up, and holding them by the grip at the center of gravity was not always mandatory. Limited run-ups were introduced in the late 1890s, and soon developed into the modern unlimited run-up.:435–436
Sweden's Eric Lemming, who threw his first world best (49.32 meters) in 1899 and ruled the event from 1902 to 1912, was the first dominant javelin thrower.:436,441:478 When the men's javelin was introduced as an Olympic discipline at the 1906 Intercalated Games, Lemming won by almost nine metres and broke his own world record; Sweden swept the first four places, as Finland's best throwers were absent and the event had yet to become popular in any other country.:437 Though challenged by younger talents, Lemming repeated as Olympic champion in 1908 and 1912; his eventual best mark (62.32 m, thrown after the 1912 Olympics) was the first javelin world record to be officially ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations.:436–441
In the late 19th and early 20th century, most javelin competitions were two-handed; the implement was thrown with the right hand and separately with the left hand, and the best marks for each hand were added together. Competitions for the better hand only were less common, though not unknown. At the Olympics a both-hands contest was held only once, in 1912; Finland swept the medals, ahead of Lemming.:441 After that, this version of the javelin rapidly 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 both-hands world record holder.
Another early variant was the freestyle javelin, in which holding the javelin by the grip at the center of gravity was not mandatory; such a freestyle competition was held at the 1908 Olympics, but was dropped from the program after that.:478 Hungary's Mór Kóczán used a freestyle end grip to break the 60-meter barrier in 1911, a year before Lemming and Julius Saaristo first did so with a regular grip.:440:214
The first known women's javelin marks were recorded in Finland in 1909. Originally, women threw the same implement as men; a lighter, shorter javelin for women was introduced in the 1920s. Women's javelin throw was added to the Olympic program in 1932; Mildred "Babe" Didrikson of the United States became the first champion.:479
For a long time, javelins were made of solid wood, typically birch, with a steel tip. The hollow, highly aerodynamic Held javelin, invented by American thrower Bud Held and developed and manufactured by his brother Dick, was introduced in the 1950s; the first Held javelins were also wooden with steel tips, but later models were made entirely of metal.:478–479 These new javelins flew further, but were also less likely to land neatly point first; as a response to the increasingly frequent flat or ambiguously flat landings, experiments with modified javelins started in the early 1980s. The resulting designs, which made flat landings much less common and reduced the distances thrown, became official for men starting in April 1986 and for women in April 1999, and the world records (then 104.80 m by Uwe Hohn, and 80.00 m by Petra Felke) were reset. The current (as of 2017) men's world record is held by Jan Železný at 98.48 m (1996); Barbora Špotáková holds the women's world record at 72.28 m (2008).
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 swept the medals at a currently recognized official Olympics, and has done so twice, in 1920 and 1932, in addition to its 1912 sweep in the two-handed javelin; in 1920 Finland swept the first four places, which is no longer possible as only three entrants per country are allowed. Finland has, however, never been nearly as successful in the women's javelin.:479
The javelin throw has been part of the decathlon since the decathlon was introduced in the early 1910s; the all-around, an earlier ten-event contest of American origin, did not include the javelin throw. The javelin was also part of some (though not all) of the many early forms of women's pentathlon, and has always been included in the heptathlon after it replaced the pentathlon in 1981.
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 (shot put, 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. This rule was put in place when a group of athletes began experimenting with a spin technique referred to as "free style". On 24 October 1956, Pentti Saarikoski threw 99.25 m (325 ft 7 1⁄4 in) using the technique holding the end of the javelin. Officials were so afraid of the out of control nature of the technique that the practice was banned through these rule specifications.
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 design 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. In addition, the surface area in front of centre of gravity was reduced, while the surface area behind the centre of gravity was increased. This had an effect similar to that produced by the feathers on an arrow. The javelin turns into the relative wind. This relative wind appears to originate from the ground as the javelin descends, thus the javelin turns to face the ground. As the javelin turns into the wind less lift is generated, 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).
The javelin throw consists of three separate phases: the run-up, the transition, and the delivery. During each phase, the position of the javelin changes while the thrower changes his or her muscle recruitment. In the run-up phase as Luann Voza states, "your arm is bent and kept close to your head, keeping the javelin in alignment with little to no arm movement". This allows the thrower's bicep to contract, flexing the elbow. In order for the javelin to stay up high, the thrower's deltoid flexes. In the transition phase, the thrower's "back muscles contract" as "the javelin is brought back in alignment with the shoulder with the thrower's palm up". This, according to Voza, "stretches your pectoral, or chest, muscles. From there, a stretch reflex, an involuntary contraction of your chest, helps bring your throwing arm forward with increased force". During the final phase, the rotation of the shoulders initiates the release, which then “transfers movement through the triceps muscles, wrists and fingers to extend the throwing arm forward to release the javelin".
US high school and below
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. In those states that do allow high school javelin competition, a few specify that the tip must be of rubber. Further, in age group track meets in the U.S., and in particular with elementary-school children in the Northeast, the Turbojav—a smaller plastic implement with a rubber tip but with similar flying characteristics as a real javelin—is a popular alternative.
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 25 javelin throwers (current models)
|1||98.48 m (323 ft 1 in)||25 May 1996||Jena|
|2||94.44 m (309 ft 10 in)||11 July 2017||Lucerne|
|3||93.90 m (308 ft 3⁄4 in)||5 May 2017||Doha|
|4||93.09 m (305 ft 4 3⁄4 in)||26 June 1999||Kuortane|
|5||92.72 m (304 ft 2 1⁄4 in)||26 August 2015||Beijing|
|6||92.61 m (303 ft 10 in)||30 June 2002||Sheffield|
|7||92.60 m (303 ft 9 1⁄2 in)||21 July 1995||Oslo|
|8||92.06 m (302 ft 1⁄4 in)||2 June 2018||Offenburg|
|9||91.69 m (300 ft 9 3⁄4 in)||24 June 2000||Kuortane|
|10||91.59 m (300 ft 5 3⁄4 in)||2 June 2006||Oslo|
|11||91.53 m (300 ft 3 1⁄2 in)||26 June 2005||Kuortane|
|12||91.46 m (300 ft 3⁄4 in)||25 January 1992||Auckland|
|13||91.36 m (299 ft 8 3⁄4 in)||26 August 2017||Taipei|
|14||91.29 m (299 ft 6 in)||21 June 2007||Indianapolis|
|15||90.73 m (297 ft 8 in)||22 July 2007||Tallinn|
|16||90.61 m (297 ft 3 1⁄4 in)||22 June 2019||Kuortane|
|17||90.60 m (297 ft 2 3⁄4 in)||20 July 1992||Nurmijärvi|
|18||90.44 m (296 ft 8 1⁄2 in)||9 July 1997||Linz|
|19||90.16 m (295 ft 9 1⁄2 in)||9 July 2015||Lausanne|
|20||89.73 m (294 ft 4 1⁄2 in)||12 August 2017||London|
|21||89.21 m (292 ft 8 in)||18 May 2014||Shanghai|
|22||89.17 m (292 ft 6 1⁄2 in)||27 July 2019||Palanga|
|23||89.16 m (292 ft 6 in) A||1 March 1991||Potchefstroom|
|24||89.15 m (292 ft 5 3⁄4 in)||2 August 2014||Incheon|
|25||89.10 m (292 ft 3 3⁄4 in)||24 March 1990||Austin|
Below is a list of additional throws of over 91.00 m:
- Jan Železný also threw 95.66 m (1993), 95.54 m (1993), 94.64 m (1996), 94.02 m (1997), 92.80 m (2001), 92.42 m (1997), 92.28 m (1995), 92.12 m (1995), 91.82 m (1994), 91.68 m (1994), 91.50 m (1994, 1996), 91.40 m (1993), 91.34 m (1997), 91.30 m (1995), 91.28 m (1994), 91.23 m (2001) and 91.04 m (1996).
- Johannes Vetter also threw 93.88 m (2017), 93.06 m (2017), 92.70 m (2018), 91.67 m (2017), 91.56 m (2018), 91.22 m (2018), 91.20 m (2017) and 91.06 m (2017).
- Aki Parviainen also threw 92.41 m (2001), 91.31 m (2001).
- Thomas Röhler also threw 91.78 m (2018), 91.28 m (2016).
- Raymond Hecht also threw 91.50 m (1996).
- Andreas Hofmann also threw 91.44 m (2018) and 91.07 m (2017).
- Julius Yego also threw 91.39 m (2015).
- Tero Pitkämäki also threw 91.33 m (2005), 91.23 m (2007) and 91.11 m (2006).
- Andreas Thorkildsen also threw 91.28 m (2009).
- Konstadinos Gatsioudis also threw 91.27 m (2001) and 91.23 (2002).
|1||72.28 m (237 ft 1 1⁄2 in)||13 September 2008||Stuttgart|
|2||71.99 m (236 ft 2 1⁄4 in)||2 September 2011||Daegu|
|3||71.70 m (235 ft 2 3⁄4 in)||14 August 2005||Helsinki|
|4||70.20 m (230 ft 3 3⁄4 in)||23 June 2007||Munich|
|5||69.48 m (227 ft 11 1⁄4 in)||28 July 2000||Oslo|
|6||69.35 m (227 ft 6 1⁄4 in)||9 June 2012||New York City|
|7||68.92 m (226 ft 1 1⁄4 in)||11 April 2018||Gold Coast|
|8||68.43 m (224 ft 6 in)||6 July 2017||Lausanne|
|9||68.34 m (224 ft 2 1⁄2 in)||31 August 2008||Elstal|
|10||67.98 m (223 ft 1⁄4 in)||2 August 2019||Shenyang|
|11||67.90 m (222 ft 9 in)||10 August 2018||Berlin|
|12||67.70 m (222 ft 1 1⁄4 in)||9 July 2019||Lucerne|
|13||67.69 m (222 ft 3⁄4 in)||30 August 2015||Beijing|
|14||67.67 m (222 ft 0 in)||6 July 2005||Salamanca|
|15||67.51 m (221 ft 5 3⁄4 in)||30 September 2000||Sydney|
|16||67.47 m (221 ft 4 1⁄4 in)||7 June 2018||Oslo|
|17||67.40 m (221 ft 1 1⁄2 in)||26 May 2019||Offenburg|
|18||67.32 m (220 ft 10 1⁄4 in)||14 June 2014||New York City|
|19||67.30 m (220 ft 9 1⁄2 in)||19 February 2016||Adler|
|20||67.29 m (220 ft 9 in)||26 July 2014||Kirovohrad|
|21||67.21 m (220 ft 6 in)||18 May 2017||Baku|
|22||67.20 m (220 ft 5 1⁄2 in)||18 August 2000||Monaco|
|23||67.16 m (220 ft 4 in)||14 May 2010||Doha|
|24||67.12 m (220 ft 2 1⁄2 in)||20 May 2018||Osaka|
|25||67.11 m (220 ft 2 in)||16 August 2016||Rio de Janeiro|
Below is a list of throws equal or superior to 69.53 m:
- Barbora Spotáková also threw 71.58 m (2011), 71.42 m (2008), 69.55 m (2012).
- Osleidys Menéndez also threw 71.54 m (2001), 71.53 m (2004), 69.82 m (2001), 69.53 m (2001).
- Mariya Abakumova also threw 70.53 m (2013), 69.75 m (2013).
- Christina Obergföll also threw 70.03 m (2005), 69.81 m (2008), 69.57 m (2011).
All-time top 5 javelin throwers (Dimpled models 1990–1991)
|1||96.96||2 June 1991||Punkalaidun|
|2||91.36||15 September 1991||Sheffield|
|3||90.84||8 September 1991||Gengenbach|
|4||90.82||26 August 1991||Tokyo|
|5||90.72||10 July 1991||Lausanne|
All-time top 15 javelin throwers (old model)
|1||104.80||21 July 1984||Berlin|
|2||99.72||15 May 1983||Westwood|
|3=||96.72||23 April 1980||Tata|
|3=||96.72||9 June 1983||Berlin|
|5||95.80||29 August 1982||Stuttgart|
|6||95.10||5 August 1985||Eugene|
|7||94.58||26 July 1976||Montreal|
|8||94.22||3 August 1978||Oslo|
|9||94.20||5 June 1983||Birmingham|
|10||94.08||5 May 1973||Leverkusen|
|11||94.06||26 July 1985||Eugene|
|12||93.90||6 June 1973||Helsinki|
|13||93.84||27 January 1979||Auckland|
|14||93.80||6 July 1972||Stockholm|
|15||93.70||17 July 1985||Kiev|
|1||80.00||8 September 1988||Potsdam|
|2||77.44||6 September 1986||Stuttgart|
|3||74.76||13 June 1983||Tampere|
|4||74.20||26 September 1982||Hania|
|5||73.58||26 June 1983||Edinburgh|
|6||72.70||20 May 1984||Hania|
|7||72.16||5 May 1984||Celje|
|8||72.12||10 July 1993||Oslo|
|9||71.88||15 August 1981||Birmingham|
|10||71.82||30 August 1985||Leverkusen|
|11||71.40||5 June 1994||Sevilla|
|12||71.00||25 June 1988||Rostock|
|13||70.76||22 June 1989||Rostock|
|14||70.42||6 August 1990||Tianjin|
|15||70.20||9 May 1991||Halle|
World Championships medalists
A new model was introduced in 1986, and all records started fresh.
A new model was introduced in 1999 and all records started fresh.
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