Javelin throw

Javelin throw
Bregje Crolla during Europacup 2007
World Athletics Championships 2007 in Osaka - German javelin thrower Stephan Steding

The javelin throw is a track and field athletics throwing event where the object to be thrown is the javelin, a spear approximately 2.5 metres in length. Javelin is an event of both the men's decathlon and the women's heptathlon. The javelin thrower gains momentum by running within a predetermined area.


Rules and Competitions

The size, shape, minimum weight,and center of gravity of the javelin implement itself are all defined by IAAF rules. In international competition, men throw a javelin between 2.6 and 2.7 metres in length and (at least) 800 grams in weight, and women throw a javelin between 2.2 and 2.3 metres in length and (at least) 600 grams in weight. The javelin is equipped with a grip, approximately 150 mm wide, made of cord and located at the javelin's center of gravity (0.9 to 1.06 metres or 0.8 to 0.92 metres from the tip of the javelin for men's and women's implements, respectively).

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 are provided with a runway 4 metres wide and at least 30 metres 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 29 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 centimetre.

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).

Javelin redesigns

A Bulgarian javelin thrower, 1934

On April 1, 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 metres by Uwe Hohn. The javelin was redesigned so that the centre of gravity was moved 4 cm forward, further away from the centre of pressure (the point at which the aerodynamic forces of lift and drag act), so that the javelin had an increased 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 outlawed 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 metres in 1991 with such a design, but this record was nullified.

Matti Järvinen throwing the javelin at the 1932 Summer Olympics.

History and the javelin at the Olympics

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 released this thong unwound giving the javelin a spiraled flight.[1]

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.[2] 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.

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 other, 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).

A womens and a mens javelin

Best year performance

Men's seasons best

Year Distance Athlete Place
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.

Year Distance Athlete Place
1986 85.74  Klaus Tafelmeier (FRG) Como
1987 87.66  Jan Železný (TCH) Nitra
1988 86.88  Jan Železný (TCH) Leverkusen
1989 87.60  Kazuhiro Mizoguchi (JPN) San José
1990 89.58  Steve Backley (GBR) Stockholm
1991 89.16  Tom Petranoff (USA) Potchefstroom
1992 91.46  Steve Backley (GBR) Auckland
1993 95.66  Jan Železný (CZE) Sheffield
1994 91.82  Jan Železný (CZE) Sheffield
1995 92.60  Raymond Hecht (GER) Oslo
1996 98.48 (WR)  Jan Železný (CZE) Jena
1997 94.02  Jan Železný (CZE) Stellenbosch
1998 90.88  Aki Parviainen (FIN) Tartu
1999 93.09  Aki Parviainen (FIN) Kuortane
2000 91.69  Konstadinós Gatsioúdis (GRE) Kuortane
2001 92.80  Jan Železný (CZE) Edmonton
2002 92.61  Sergey Makarov (RUS) Sheffield
2003 90.11  Sergey Makarov (RUS) Dessau
2004 87.73  Aleksandr Ivanov (RUS) Ostrava
2005 91.53  Tero Pitkämäki (FIN) Kuortane
2006 91.59  Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR) Oslo
2007 91.29  Breaux Greer (USA) Indianapolis
2008 90.57 (OR)  Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR) Beijing
2009 91.28  Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR) Zürich
2010 90.37  Andreas Thorkildsen (NOR) Florø

Women's seasons best

Year Distance Athlete Place
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.

Year Distance Athlete Place
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 (OR)  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 (WR)  Barbora Špotáková (CZE) Stuttgart
2009 68.92  Mariya Abakumova (RUS) Berlin
2010 68.89  Maria Abakumova (RUS) Doha

Top ten

Men's best throwers of all time (current 1986 model)

  • (Updated April 2010)
Rank Mark Athlete Place Date
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

Women's best throwers of all time (current 1999 model)

  • (Updated September 2011)
Rank Mark Athlete Place Date Ref
1. 72.28  Barbora Špotáková (CZE) Stuttgart 2008-09-13
2. 71.99  Mariya Abakumova (RUS) Daegu 2011-09-02 [3]
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. 68.38  Sunette Viljoen (RSA) Daegu 2011-09-02 [4]
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. 67.20  Tatyana Shikolenko (RUS) Monaco 2000-08-18

Notable javelin throwers



See also


  1. ^ The Ancient Olympic Games by Judith Swaddling
  2. ^ http://www.databaseolympics.com/sport/sportevent.htm?sp=ATH&enum=330
  3. ^ "Javelin Throw Results". IAAF. 2 September 2011. http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/documents/pdf/4147/AT-JT-W-f--A--.RS1.pdf. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Javelin Throw Results". IAAF. 2 September 2011. http://daegu2011.iaaf.org/documents/pdf/4147/AT-JT-W-f--A--.RS1.pdf. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 

External links

The following sites contain more information and statistics for Javelin throwing as well as for other track and field sports:

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • javelin throw — Track and field sport of throwing a wooden or metal spear for distance. It is hurled after a short run and must land point first. The men s javelin is 8.5 ft (260 cm) long, the women s 7.2 ft (220 cm). Included in the ancient Greek Olympic Games… …   Universalium

  • javelin throw — /ˈdʒævələn θroʊ/ (say javuhluhn throh) noun Athletics an event in field games in which competitors try to throw the javelin the greatest distance. –javelin thrower, noun …   Australian English dictionary

  • javelin throw — noun An athletic throwing event where the object to be thrown is the javelin, a spear like object made of metal, fiberglass and, in some cases, carbon fiber …   Wiktionary

  • javelin throw — noun see javelin I, 3b …   Useful english dictionary

  • 1987 World Championships in Athletics - Women's javelin throw — NOTOC These are the official results of the Women s Javelin Throw event at the 1987 World Championships in Rome, Italy. There were a total number of 31 participating athletes, with the final held on Sunday 1987 09 06. All results were made with a …   Wikipedia

  • Athletics at the 1996 Summer Olympics - Men's javelin throw — These are the official results of the men s javelin throw at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. There were a total number of 34 competitors, with twelve of them who qualified for the final.MedalistsNon qualifiersee also* 1992 Men s… …   Wikipedia

  • 1994 European Championships in Athletics - Men's javelin throw — These are the official results of the Men s Javelin Throw event at the 1994 European Championships in Helsinki, Finland. There were a total number of 26 participating athletes. The final was held on 1994 08 08.Finalee also* 1990 Men s European… …   Wikipedia

  • Athletics at the 2000 Summer Olympics - Men's javelin throw — These are the official results of the men s javelin throw event at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. There were a total number of 32 participating athletes. MedalistsQualification*Held on Friday 2000 09 22 ee also* 1996 Men s Olympic …   Wikipedia

  • 1995 World Championships in Athletics - Men's javelin throw — NOTOC These are the official results of the Men s Javelin Throw event at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. There were a total number of 37 participating athletes, with the final held on Sunday 1995 08 13.FinalQualification* Held …   Wikipedia

  • 1997 World Championships in Athletics - Men's javelin throw — NOTOC These are the official results of the Men s Javelin Throw event at the 1997 World Championships in Athens, Greece. There were a total number of 40 participating athletes, with the final held on Tuesday 1997 08 05.FinalQualification* Held on …   Wikipedia

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