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Three greatest hammer throwers in history

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  • Three greatest hammer throwers in history

    The other day my son flattered me when he said I was the only person he knew who could confidently name the 3 best hammer throwers in history. I thanked him and he said "so who were they?"

    I thought for a few seconds and said Syedikh, Connolly and Zsivotzky.

    I now wonder if I deserved the flattery. What about Litvinov? And I know there was a gret US thrower named Flanagan in the 20's...

  • #2
    Matt McGrath certainly merits a mention. He was on the world's top ten list from 1906 to 1929, missing only 1917, and won an Olympic gold along with two silvers. He also set 2 world records.

    John Flanagan set 16 unofficial world records and was on the top ten list every year from 1894 to 1912, with three Olympic wins in that time.

    Pat Ryan had a similar streak of longevity from 1901 to 1921 with a single Olympic victory and one WR, but that WR stood for 24 years.

    Comment


    • #3
      Litvinov is at worse 3rd, maybe 2nd. The big Z slips to 4th. Connolly's WR holder status for 9 years gives him a lock on 2nd or 3rd. Seydikh's # 1 is secure. Plus, when he gave me an autograph once, he drew a neat picture a hammer under it along with his wr distance ( in meters of course)

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm afraid that trying to compare the three old-timers mentioned by Mighty Favog with Connolly, Syedikh, and the other modern era throwers makes judging the relative worth of Owens, Hayes, Lewis, Greene, and Gatlin look easy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Oh, probably. It might be a little easier than you think.

          T&FN's World Rankings say Honors Won is most important.

          1. Sedykh: 3 Oly opportunities = 2 gold, 1 silver; 3 Euro opportunities = 3 gold; 2 World opportunities = 1 silver
          2. Litvinov: 2 Oly opportunities = 1 gold, 1 silver; 3 Euro opportunities = 1 bronze, 1 silver; 4 World opportunities = 2 gold
          3. Zsivótzky: 4 Oly opportunities = 1 gold, 2 silver; 4 Euro opportunities = 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze
          4. McGrath: 4 Oly opportunities = 1 gold, 2 silver
          5. O'Callaghan: 2 Oly opportunities = 2 gold
          6. Bondarchuk: 3 Oly opportunities = 1 gold, 1 bronze; 3 Euro opportunities = 1 gold, 1 bronze
          7. Connolly: 3 Oly opportunities = 1 gold
          8. Flanagan: 3 Oly opportunities = 3 gold, but back when the OG didn't mean so much
          9. Ryan: 4 Oly opportunities = 1 gold
          10. Astapkovich: 5 Oly opportunities = 1 silver, 1 bronze; 7 World opportunities = 3 bronze

          Head-to-head comes next, described as "an analysis of how athletes fared in
          head-to-head competition with their peers". World Rankings can do a pretty good job of summarizing this!

          1. Syedikh: 18 rankings, 145 pts, 8 top rankings, only hammer AOY ever
          2. Litvinov: 12 rankings, 95 pts, 4 top rankings
          3. Bondarchuk: 8 rankings, 65 pts, 4 top rankings
          4. Astapkovich: 14 rankings, 109 pts, 3 top rankings
          5. Zsivótzky: 16 rankings, 107 pts, 3 top rankings
          6. Connolly: 13 rankings, 107 pts, 2 top rankings
          honorable mention pre-rankings athletes using world lists:
          McGrath: 23 seasons, 187 pts, 5 list leaders; spanned WWI
          Flanagan: 19 seasons, 172 pts, 11 list leaders; early in sport's development
          Ryan: 19 seasons, 125 pts, 8 list leaders; spanned WWI
          O'Callaghan: 8 seasons, 63 pts, 4 list leaders

          Finally, marks. World Records summarize very well.

          1. Syedikh: 6 (ratified) WR, and still holds it
          2. Connolly: 7 (6 ratified) WR
          3. Litvinov: 3 (ratified) WR
          4. Zsivótzky: 2 (ratified) WR
          5. Bondarchuk: 2 (ratified) WR but less improvement on WR than Zsivótzky
          6. O'Callaghan: 1 mammoth unratified (politics) WR
          7. Flanagan: 16 pre-IAAF WR
          8. Ryan: 1 (ratified) long-standing WR
          9. McGrath: 2 pre-IAAF WR
          10. Astapkovich: no WR


          Overall
          1. Syedikh
          2. Litvinov
          3. Zsivótzky
          4. Bondarchuk
          5. McGrath
          6. Connolly
          7. O'Callaghan
          8. Flanagan
          9. Ryan
          10. Astapkovich

          Comments?

          Comment


          • #6
            T&FN's All-Century Team (one from each quarter): John Flanagan-Pat O'Callaghan-Gyula Zsivótzky, Yuriy Syedikh. With Syedikh overall No. 1.

            HM to Andrey Abduvliyev, Hal Connolly & Sergey Litvinov.

            So we certainly valued Zsivótzky over Connolly, since they occupy much of the same time period

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            • #7
              With 5 WRs and 3 No. 1s, Krivonosov needs at least mentioning in any debate.

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              • #8
                Yes, that was an oversight.

                Krivonosov rates as follows.
                Honors Won: 3 Olympic opportunities = 1 silver; 2 Euro opportunities = 1 gold, 1 silver. Rates as #10
                Head-to-head: 7 rankings, 60 points, 3 top rankings; outranked Connolly in 2 of 4 years of overlap. Rates as #6
                Marks: 7 WR, 6 ratified. Rates as #3

                Overall, just about even with Connolly; I'd put him just behind based on the '56 OG alone. Rates as #7

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mighty Favog
                  9. Ryan: 4 Oly opportunities = 1 gold

                  Comments?
                  I think you've done a disservice to Ryan. I don't know which four OG opportunities you're giving him: '08, '12, '20 are understandable, but what else: '04? '24?

                  The first year Ryan reached international prominence is 1908, at age 25. He retired after 1921. In between is an interesting story, and I know the fence posts, not the full fence.

                  Ryan emigrated from Ireland to the U.S. in 1910, and sought American citizenship. If he were to have competed in the 1912 OG, he'd have had to do so under the British flag as Ireland competed as a separate country for the first time in 1924. So his 1912 opportunity was extremely limited, perhaps eliminated as the tensions were great enough that it seems unlikely for the Brits to have allowed an ex-pat Irishman to compete on their team.

                  By 1924, Ryan was retired, so no Olympics. In 1908, he would have had to compete with the British team, and while I don't know the depth of his politics, I do know that at some point after retirement he moved back to Ireland to live there permanently. So one can presume that he may well have had little interest in competing for the UK in 1908, and 1904 was too early (unless his lower level career began earlier than I'm aware of.)

                  I count him as having one real shot at the Olympics, and he made the most of it, winning the gold medal.

                  Now for a comparison of McGrath and Ryan, as they were contemporaries. I've done a fair amount of research on both, and have done some reconstructing of world rankings for various periods, using the T&FN methodology. Here are the results for the period in which either one was internationally prominent, 1907-1929:

                  McGrath
                  1,2, 2,2,1,1, 2,2,3,2, x,1,2,3, 2,3,4,2, 1,4,8,10, 6

                  x,9, 9,5,3,2, 1,1,1,1, 1,x,1,1, 1,retired
                  Ryan

                  (One other note: McGrath appears to not have thrown in 1917, in part because he had recently joined the New York AC which withdrew from any championship meets for the duration of American involvement in World War I. Ryan did not throw in 1918, I believe because he'd returned to Ireland to help with the war effort.)

                  Finally, I'd love to hear from someone who can fill in more of the story on both throwers, and particularly on Ryan.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    1. Sedykh: 3 Oly opportunities = 2 gold, 1 silver; 3 Euro opportunities = 3 gold; 2 World opportunities = 1 silver
                    Sedykh, 2 World opportunities = 1 gold, 1 silver[/quote]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the more detailed look at this than I'd originally given it. My source for initial info is Michael Rabinovich's stat site, http://trackfield.brinkster.net , which shows Ryan making the world's top ten lists every year from 1901 until his retirement (with the lone exception you point out). Regardless of any other argument, the 1904 OG shouldn't count simply because it wasn't a big championship event.

                      As for competing under the British flag in 1908, there's quite a bit of precedent for Irish athletes to have done so. In Peter O'Connor's biography "The King of Spring" it describes some fun the Irish jumpers had during an Olympic medal ceremony, running up the flagpole and replacing the Union Jack with an Irish flag while a thrower or two kept the authorities at bay. But the IOC website says many Irish withdrew rather than compete under the crown. I stand corrected.

                      So how many spots up do you think he belongs in the overall ranking? 5th? 6th? 7th? 8th?

                      As for Syedikh, the Worlds that took place during his career were '83, '87, '91 and '93. My mistake. I don't think that knocks him down any in the final scheme of things.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think Connoly is being ranked too low

                        7 WR distances (one not being ratified because the circle was 1" too wide in the direction perpendicular to the throw should count for more. But I appreciate the effort that has gone into this list - especially the pre 1950 era hammer throwers which I have almost zero knowledge of

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My order of people from the first half-century (plus late 19th century) would be:

                          Flanagan
                          Ryan
                          O'Callaghan
                          McGrath
                          Karl Hein (Ger)
                          Karl Storch (Ger)
                          Fred Tootell (US)
                          Imre Nemeth (Hun)
                          Ossian Skiold (Swe)
                          Erwin Blask (Ger)

                          There are lots of problems with this. Somehow one must create a timeline that works. Hard to do. I've pretty much avoided timelining these people, which explains why the top four people were allowed to dominate: they had less competition, and central Europe was at war or affected by war through much of the time.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by thorshammer
                            I think Connoly is being ranked too low

                            7 WR distances (one not being ratified because the circle was 1" too wide in the direction perpendicular to the throw should count for more. But I appreciate the effort that has gone into this list - especially the pre 1950 era hammer throwers which I have almost zero knowledge of
                            The reason I put Connolly fairly low was not because he didn't do enough in the record department. Simply put, he didn't dominate his era. The T&FN rankings committee decided he was the world's #1 thrower just twice in his long career. Even more damaging is an eighth and a sixth at the Olympics during the prime of his career. As the ranking committee says, "we reward people who have proven themselves against other people, not against themselves."

                            Yes, DJ, it's difficult to make such comparisons. But the fun comes in the arguing about it! Fans of every sport do this and it's rare to have consensus about who's #1, let alone anything beyond that.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dj
                              My order of people from the first half-century (plus late 19th century) would be:

                              Flanagan
                              Ryan
                              O'Callaghan
                              McGrath
                              Karl Hein (Ger)
                              Karl Storch (Ger)
                              Fred Tootell (US)
                              Imre Nemeth (Hun)
                              Ossian Skiold (Swe)
                              Erwin Blask (Ger)

                              There are lots of problems with this. Somehow one must create a timeline that works. Hard to do. I've pretty much avoided timelining these people, which explains why the top four people were allowed to dominate: they had less competition, and central Europe was at war or affected by war through much of the time.
                              Doesn't Csermák belong in this group?
                              "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
                              by Thomas Henry Huxley

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