A look back at the history of the men’s hammer at the Commonwealth Games

The first Empire Games champion in the hammer was former Olympic bronze medallist Matthew Nokes, who narrowly beat Ireland’s Bill Britton. The Englishman won again in London in 1934 with a slightly further throw. George Sutherland was second and in his third Games in Sydney in 1938, the Canadian won easily as no Britons competed.

British throwers were back in Auckland in 1950 and yet again the Games record was improved with Duncan Clark threatening the 50-metre barrier. Twelve years after taking silver, Australian Keith Pardon did so again but was more than two metres behind the Scot.

There were huge gains in standard in Vancouver in 1954 as the first six were well over 50 metres and Pakistan’s Muhammed Iqbal won with a big throw of 55.38m. Scotland’s Ewan Douglas took bronze in the first Commonwealth competition with a qualifying round.

In Cardiff in 1958, Iqbal, who had been Empire record-holder, threw well over 60 metres, but was pipped by England’s Mike Ellis, who threw 62.90m. England took three of the first five places and that didn’t include Howard Payne, who was competing for Rhodesia. Payne was actually born in South Africa, but in Perth in 1962, he competed for England and won by almost two metres, though he did become the first champion not to set a Games record.

In Kingston in 1966, Payne won again with a slightly longer throw, but again fell short of Ellis’s mark. Iqbal, who had missed 1962,
took bronze – his third medal. On the day his wife Rosemary won a discus gold for Scotland, Payne won his third gold medal in
Edinburgh in 1970, but this time he shattered the Games record with 67.80m and won by five metres. His compatriots Bruce Fraser and Barry Williams gave England the first clean sweep in a throws event. Scotland’s Lawrie Bryce took fourth.

Payne’s fifth Games in Christchurch in 1974 was where Payne had his best Commonwealth throw of 68.01, but he was well
beaten by his team-mate Ian Chipchase. Chipchase was only sixth in Edmonton in 1978 as the 1974 bronze medallist Peter Farmer
won Australian gold as he took the record over 70 metres. Scotland’s Chris Black took bronze and he did so again in Brisbane in 1982 but was well behind the first two. Bob Weir, a 21 year-old based in America won gold for England with a big Games and British record 75.08m, with Northern Ireland’s Martin Girvan also well ahead of the previous record.

In Edinburgh in 1986, Girvan was second again but was well beaten by England’s David Smith’s 74.06m. Smith looked like he might be on his way to defending his title in Auckland in 1990 but he was overtaken in the final round by Sean Carlin’s Games record of 75.76m. Carlin defended his title in Victoria in 1994, winning easily by three metres as England took the next three places through Paul Head, Peter Vivian and Michael Jones.

Australia won their third title on the trot in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 as Stuart Rendall took a narrow victory over Jones. In Manchester in 2002, Rendall was a big favourite, having thrown 79.29m earlier in the year but with four no throws, he could only finish fourth. African and Commonwealth record-holder Chris Harmse, who had been third in 1998, opted not to compete on religious grounds and gold went to Jones in his fourth Games, 16 years after finishing fourth with a quality throw of 72.55m.

Four years later Jones was fifth in Melbourne in 2006 as Rendall returned with a big Games record of 77.53m. Canadian James Steacy, who tops the 2014 rankings, was second with Harmse third.

The 2010 event in Delhi saw South African Harmse’s final round throw edging England’s 22 year-old Alex Smith, who narrowly failed to emulate his father’s win in 1986. Harmse, thus won gold, 12 years after winning a bronze medal.

Gold medal winners

1930 Malcolm Nokes (ENG) 47.13
1934 Malcolm Nokes (ENG) 48.25
1938 George Sutherland (CAN) 48.71
1950 Duncan McDougall Clarke (SCO) 49.94
1954 Muhammad Iqbal (PAK) 55.38
1958 Mike Ellis (ENG) 62.90
1962 Howard Payne (ENG) 61.64
1966 Howard Payne (ENG) 61.98
1970 Howard Payne (ENG) 67.80
1974 Ian Chipchase (ENG) 69.56
1978 Peter Farmer (AUS) 71.10
1982 Bob Weir (ENG) 75.08
1986 David Smith (ENG) 74.06
1990 Sean Carlin (AUS) 75.66
1994 Sean Carlin (AUS) 73.48
1998 Stuart Rendall (AUS) 74.71
2002 Mick Jones (ENG) 72.55
2006 Stuart Rendall (AUS) 77.53
2010 Chris Harmse (RSA) 73.15

British medallists

Gold: Malcolm Nokes (Eng, 1930, 1934), Duncan McDougall Clarke (Sco, 1950), Mike Ellis (Eng, 1958), Howard Payne (Eng, 1962, 1966, 1970), Ian Chipchase (Eng, 1974), Bob Weir (Eng, 1982), David Smith (Eng, 1986), Mick Jones (Eng, 2002)
Silver: Bruce Fraser (Eng, 1970), Payne (Eng, 1974), Martin Girvan (NIr, 1982, 1986), David Smith (Eng, 1990), Paul Head (Eng,
1994), Alex Smith (Eng, 2010)
Bronze: William McKenzie (Sco, 1934), Ewan Douglas (Sco, 1954), Peter Allday (Eng, 1958), Barry Williams (Eng, 1970), Chris Black (Sco, 1978, 1982), Peter Vivian (Eng, 1998), Mike Floyd (Eng, 2010)
Most successful athlete and Briton: In a very successful British event (11 golds), Howard Payne won three of them for England.

» Find other event-by-event histories here and an overall history of the Commonwealth Games here