The throwing of spears has been apart of many cultures, where participants threw sticks for distance. Some of the earliest records of the javelin were in the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece in 708BC. It was added into the modern Olympics for men in 1908 and in 1932 for women.
The javelin is a stand along event and is also an event in the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon.
For international competitions, the men’s javelin is between 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) and 2.7 m (8 ft 10in) and weighing 800 grams (28oz). The women’s javelin is between 2.2 m (7 ft 3 in) and 2.3 m (7 ft 7in) and 600 grams (21oz). There is a grip, made of cord, at the center of gravity for the javelin.
Competitors have a runway that is 4 m (13 ft) wide and at minimal 30 m (98ft) long. At the end, there is a throwing arc that is 8 m (26 ft). The sector is a 28.96 degrees circle from the center of the throwing arc. The competitors can start anywhere on the runway, then run up to make their throw into the sector.
- Competitors can run down the runway to gain momentum for their throw
- Competitors must use an over the shoulder throwing motion to throw the javelin into the sector
- The competitor cannot turn their back to the sector until the javelin lands
- The tip of the javelin must touch the ground first
Fouls are called if the competitor performs any of the following violations
- The competitor uses any throwing technique that is not over their shoulder
- The competitor turns their back to the throwing sector prior to the javelin landing
- Any part other than the tip striking the ground first
- The competitor stepping over the throwing arc line
Competitors start a selected distance from the throwing arc and face the throwing sector. Many have a certain number of steps from the throwing sector to their starting point to get as much momentum as possible without stepping over the throwing arc. They can generate momentum forward by running. Once at the point to release the javelin, the competitor performs a throwing motion over the shoulder out into the sector.
Due to changes in the rules, there exists three separate time periods for the men’s javelin throw records. This is due to redesigns in the javelin. The first change was in 1984, where the center of mass was moved forward by 4cm. This caused the javelin to tip down earlier and steeper. Prior to 1984, competitors were throwing further and further and were at risk of throwing beyond the space inside stadiums. The next rule change came from serrated tails being outlawed in 1991.
|Prior to 1st redesign||Uwe Hohn||104.80 m||July, 20, 1984|
|Prior to 2nd redesign||Seppo Raty||96.96 m||June 2, 1991|
|Current design||Jan Zelezny||98.48 m||May 25, 1996|
The women’s javelin has undergone one redesign in 1999.
|Prior to redesign||Petra Felke||80.00 m||Sept 9, 1988|
|Current record||Barora Spotakova||72.28 m||Sept 13, 2008|
Javelin competitors are more prone to shoulder and elbow injuries due to the mechanics of the throw. Rotator cuff tears along with impingement and instability can occur in the shoulder. The motion of the throw causes a valgus force on the elbow which can lead to injury to the UCL, called Javelin Elbow. Javelin throwers can also deal with lumbar and ACL injuries due to the position of the body at the release point.
- Meron, A., & Saint-Phard, D. (2017). Track and Field Throwing Sports: Injuries and Prevention. Current sports medicine reports, 16(6), 391–396. https://doi.org/10.1249/JSR.0000000000000416