Pierre Weil wrote this piece on Rudy Winkler and the men’s hammer throw.
The U.S. has a long history in the hammer throw, dominating it in the late 19th century and in the early to mid-century.
Lance Deal, Kevin McMahon, and Keith Popejoy were three of the hammer players in the 1990s. Lance Deal won the Olympic silver in 1996 in a tremendous performance.
The event is very technical. In the 1980s and 1990s, Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, CA, under Terry Ward (then, head coach), worked with Olympic Ed Burke and they developed a program for throwers, in the javelin, hammer, and discus. I recall a training site under some over passes.
Pierre Weil is in a program directed by Lori Shontz, a Journalism professor at the University of Oregon.
All pieces edited by Lori Shontz and Larry Eder.
Winkler, Haugh, Young go 1-2-3 as Winkler grabs U.S. Hammer Throw Record
By Pierre Weil
SOJC Track Bureau for RunBlogRun
EUGENE, Ore. — For hammer thrower Rudy Winkler, it was never a question of would he, but rather a question of when and where would he. Winkler answered both of those questions on Sunday with his second attempt, grabbing the American record with a throw of 82.71 meters, or 271 feet, 4 inches, in the final of the Olympic Trials.
Winkler came into the Olympic Trials as the big favorite and proved why as he broke the record set by Lance Deal 25 years ago.
“The second throw, I just knew it was a better throw,” Winkler said. “I knew it had the potential to be it. I just stared at the screen waiting for the proctor to come up.”
Winkler now heads to Tokyo with fellow qualifiers Daniel Haugh and Alex Young, who both threw personal bests on their final throws. Haugh came in second throwing 79.39 meters, or 260 feet, 5 inches, and Young rounded out the top three with a throw of 78.32 meters, or 256 feet, 11 inches.
Winkler, Haugh, and Young will all be looking to make the podium in an event the United States hasn’t medaled in since Deal took silver in 1996.
Despite the medal drought, all three athletes have confidence that this squad will be able to do it at these Olympics.
“We have been so consistent this year,” said Winkler. “We have pushed each other and thrown personal bests with each other. Very possible we will have multiple medals.”
Haugh echoed this, saying, “No doubt in my mind that there will be somebody on the medal stand from the United States.”
The Americans have a tall task ahead of them in Japan, but their ability to thrive off each other and support each other may prove crucial in the coming month. The bonds these athletes have to go well beyond the sport, and their comradery, along with the fact that this is the strongest group of U.S. throwers in recent history, boosts the morale of the whole group.
“It keeps the spirit up,” Young said. “We’re three real happy dudes, and all of us push each other and know the common struggle.”
As for Winkler, he may have just broken the American record, but don’t be surprised if that’s not the last record he breaks.
“I was surprised by that distance,” he said. “It felt easy. I think I can throw further.”