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Rudy Winkler, Olympian from Averill Park, knows the finer points of the hammer throw | #speeddating | #tinder | #pof | #blackpeoplemeet | romancescams | #scams


Casual Olympic viewers could be forgiven for not having an accurate picture of the hammer throw.

For one, the object that is thrown — a 16-pound steel ball at the end of a nearly 4-foot wire, with a handle — doesn’t much resemble a hammer.

Although the goal of the throw is to propel the hammer as far as possible, it is more a finesse-based sport than a strength-based one, according to Rudy Winkler, who will be throwing for the U.S. at the Summer Games in Tokyo.

“It’s not just, you wind it over your head and you throw it as hard as you can,” Winkler, an Averill Park graduate, said. “It’s more finesse than anything, really.”

Winkler holds the U.S. record of 271 feet, 4 inches, set at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.

In the hammer throw, much like the shot put or discus, throwers step into a 7-foot diameter circle surrounded by a cage that protects the spectators. First, they twirl the ball to start to build momentum. Then, they do three or four turns, swinging the ball around their body as they do so, before releasing the ball.

When Winkler steps into the ring, he said he does his best to stay calm and relaxed so he can focus on the technical cues his coach has given.

“I know some people like to go kind of berserk,” he said. “For me, it’s all about feeling calm before.”

A good throw can reach up to 60 miles per hour, according to Paddy McGrath, Winkler’s coach.

Technique and finesse come into play because otherwise, throwers won’t build enough momentum to release at high speeds, Winkler explained.

“All your power comes from the ground first,” he said. “If your footwork is sloppy and it’s not exactly the way it should be, you’re not going to get as much power from the ground.” As a consequence, the turns will be slower and the throw will be shorter.

What separates the good from the great, Winkler said, is technique and consistency.

“Good hammer throwers will be able to force their way through throws and have an occasional long throw here or there,” he said. Great throwers will have fine-tuned technique and consistently long throws.

That comes only after long hours of practice, which can get frustrating because when he’s tired, technique is the hardest thing to focus on, Winkler said.

McGrath stressed the importance of balance drills, which are especially important to eliminate the dizziness that can accompany all those turns.

High-level hammer throwers don’t get dizzy.

“You don’t because you’ve done it millions of times and you develop a kinesthetic awareness of where you are,” McGrath said. “You’re doing multiple turns, hundreds of turns a week so it just becomes second nature.”

The most challenging thing to master for many throwers, Winkler said, is learning not to fight the ball.

“When you’re holding onto the ball there’s a lot of tension with your arms, and your natural reaction is to pull as hard as you can,” he explained. But it’s important for throwers to maintain a connection with the ball and balance the work they’re doing with the work the ball is doing as it whirls around.

The hammer throw, which has roots dating back to the 15th century, was added to the Olympics in 1900. Each competitor gets three tries to achieve a qualifying distance. If fewer than 12 do so, the top 12 advance to the final. In the final, each thrower gets three throws, and the top eight get an additional three throws. The best throw wins.

If the ball lands outside the designated sector, if throwers step outside the cage or the ring, or hit the cage during their throw, the throw is disqualified.

Viewers generally can tell if a throw will be good by the speed the ball is moving around the thrower, McGrath said.

“If you can’t see the ball, then it’s a good throw,” he said. Throwers should be “developing speed like the Tasmanian Devil.”

The men’s hammer throw final is scheduled to air live on Peacock, NBC’s streaming service, between 6 and 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Winkler advised viewers to pay attention to the ball’s orbit — how it moves around the thrower’s body. The orbit should be even, not short on one side and long on the other.

“Usually the shape is enough to tell if it’s going to be a good throw or not,” he said.

And there’s one more: “When watching it, people’s yells are very telling. We all know if it’s going to be a good throw or not as soon as it comes out of our hands,” Winkler said.



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