03 November, 2013

On throwing circles and another crazy proposal

Since I started interesting myself in athletics I was shocked by the size of the hammer throwing circle. Why on earth constrain the athletes to a 2.13 m circle wile the discus throwers have a 2.5 m one? Reading Juilland’s book made me think again about this question. 

Clearly the 2.13 m and 2.5 m choices are a compromise between imperial and metric measures, a leftover from the past as quite a few things in athletics. When those sizes were first standardised they were probably considered more than sufficient given the techniques used at the time. They are ridiculously restrictive now. 

Shot put was the throwing discipline that knew not one but too stylistic revolutions. First came O’Brien 

in the 50s with what is known today as the glide technique. (It was called O’Brien style at the time). He was the first to break the 18 m and the 19 m barrier.

Then we had Aleksandr Baryshnikov

who invented what is called today the spin technique. He did break the world record being the first man over 22 m. (Amazing as it may sound it is very difficult to find photos of Baryshnikov on the web).

But experiments with new techniques are hampered by the tightness of the throwing circles.

So here is my proposal. Forget 2.13 m and 2.5 m circles. Introduce a new, unique size one of 3 m. Let the throwers use their imagination and invent new techniques. And, since we do change the rules in so fundamental a way, scratch all ancient world records ad start afresh. 

While we are at it, why not decide to go all metric? Introduce 8 kg shots and hammers for men. The latter would arrange organisers since it might reduce the length of the throws by a few meters. For the shot put it would be interesting to see people trying to break to 20 m barrier once more. In the case of women, who have only implements of metric weights, things would not change fundamentally. A 3 m circle could perhaps help a great shot thrower, like V. Adams, to go fetch the world record. Women’s discus is alas a disaster: no woman has thrown beyond 70 m in the last decade, the best performance being the 69.38 of Sadova in 2003. (In fact the 50 best performances are from the 80s). The more I think about this the more I become convinced that a tabula rasa is the only way to go. But let us profit in order to make some sensible changes along the way. 

1 comment:

  1. I like this proposal a lot! It would be best to start these when a good, strong drug system is in place, which I think we are getting closer to.