Despite a recent revamp to the series, the hammer throw remains absent from the Diamond League and Dry says he feels “disgusted” by the treatment of his discipline
The recently-announced major changes to the Diamond League series prompted much discussion, but one area of continued debate is the omission of one single Olympic throws event – the hammer – from the programme of the IAAF’s premier circuit.
In the past the IAAF has said that “infrastructure reasons” prevent the discipline from being included in the 14-meeting series. But with the announcement of Diamond League changes late last year came a fresh wave of criticism for the hammer throw’s continued absence.
Rio Olympian Mark Dry, who claimed hammer bronze for Scotland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, was among those to share his views on Twitter at the time.
“How truly aspirational for young hammer throwers around the world,” he wrote with more than a hint of sarcasm. “Really something to strive for #equality.”
He later told AW how he feels “disgusted” by the treatment of his discipline.
“There’s just so much bias against the sport, I don’t understand what people are trying to achieve,” said the 29-year-old. “If they want rid of it, get rid of it. It needs to be removed from the Olympics or removed as a sport because they are killing it, they are not encouraging anyone to do it.”
Speaking with AW after the recent Diamond League model changes were announced, series founder and Diamond League vice-chairman Patrick K Magyar explained the reasons as to why the hammer throw cannot form part of the programme.
“The big issue we have on including the hammer throw is simply the lawn heating that we have in most of the stadiums,” said Magyar, who explained how damage can be done when the hammers hit the field.
“Whether we like it or not, most of the stadiums we share with football clubs and they are not very keen on having half-destroyed lawn heating.”
Magyar added that the obstruction caused by the hammer cages and their set-up was another point of consideration.
The IAAF does offer another series – the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge – but Dry says the two sets of meetings cannot be considered equal. This year the Hammer Throw Challenge will again offer a top prize of $2500 for the winner at each meeting, with $30,000 going to each overall series winner at the end of the season. The Diamond League offers $50,000 to each series champion, while winners of events in the first 12 Diamond League meetings will earn $10,000 each.
“The Hammer Challenge was supposed to be added there as an equivalent but it’s got a quarter of the prize money and it isn’t televised. At least if it was the same prize money with the same amount of competitions it would be almost seen as equivalent but it’s nowhere near,” said the Scottish record-holder. “It’s an insult, it’s disgraceful. It’s just complete discrimination, there’s no other way to describe it.
“I don’t ask to be the prime event,” added Dry, who underwent hip surgery last year and was also dropped from Lottery funding in 2016. “I know we’re not going to be the Usain Bolts of the athletics world, but it is an amazing event and there have been some great competitions (last year) in changing lead backwards and forward.
“I just don’t understand how it can’t be as fair as everything else. Just to see it included, to have the same opportunities for exposure, have the same opportunities for prize money, and just be able to try and make a career out of what we do and enjoy it. There’s just absolutely no incentive for anyone to carry on.”
The IAAF and the 14 Diamond League meeting organisations are shareholding partners of the Diamond League AG – the Swiss company which owns and manages the Diamond League – and the IAAF has emphasised how decisions are taken by majority decision and not by any one entity alone.
“This body decided at its outset in 2009 to have a total of 32 disciplines,” an IAAF spokesperson explained.
Highlighting the world governing body’s position with regards both the Diamond League and Hammer Throw Challenge, the IAAF told AW: “The IAAF for its part has always worked for the most diverse programme of events possible on the circuit and irrespective of market forces ensures all event disciplines are supported and promoted.
“The very fact that the Hammer Throw Challenge was created is a clear example of that support.”
» This is an extract from a 10-page feature in the January 19 edition of AW magazine, which forms part of our ‘state of the nation’ series and looks at topics such as IAAF reforms and the Diamond League revamp. That magazine is available to buy and read digitally here
» Our state of the nation series continues with:
January 26 magazine: Jason Henderson tackles the topic of young athletes’ initiatives and domestic competition. Does the sport have the best structures in place to develop the champions of tomorrow and is our competition calendar as good as it can be?
February 2 magazine: Euan Crumley reports on the club scene. Is it still the bedrock of British athletics and is the coaching system in the UK as strong as it could be?