|Hammer Throw||80.98||Moskva||13 JUN 2012|
|Hammer Throw (6kg)||72.14||Brest, BLR||30 APR 2005|
|Hammer Throw (5kg)||72.74||Minsk||28 JUN 2003|
|2017||77.32||Zhukovskiy (Meteor)||02 JUL|
|2016||77.67||Cheboksary (Olimpiyskiy)||22 JUN|
|2015||77.24||Beijing (National Stadium)||23 AUG|
|2014||79.35||Zürich (Letzigrund)||16 AUG|
|2010||78.98||Hengelo (Blankers-Koen Stadion)||30 MAY|
|2006||66.72||Brest, BLR||06 JUL|
|2005||72.14||Brest, BLR||30 APR|
|IAAF World Championships London 2017||11q1||73.48||London (Olympic Stadium)||09 AUG 2017|
|15th IAAF World Championships||5||77.24||Beijing (National Stadium)||23 AUG 2015|
|14th IAAF World Championships||11||75.90||Moskva (Luzhniki)||12 AUG 2013|
|13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics||7q2||74.80||Daegu (DS)||27 AUG 2011|
|12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics||5||76.58||Berlin (Olympiastadion)||17 AUG 2009|
|10th IAAF World Junior Championships||9||67.11||Grosseto (Stadio Zecchini)||16 JUL 2004|
Created 4 August 2013
Sergey Litvinov, RUSSIA (Hammer Throw)
(previously competed for Belarus up to 15 July 2008 and for Germany up to 31 December 2010)
Born: 27 January 1986, Rostov-on-Don
1.85 m/100 kg
Coach: Sergey Litvinov Sr.
The reigning Russian Champion in the hammer throw Sergey Litvinov lives in Saransk. This city in Mordovia is famous for its race walking school. Now Sergey Litvinov senior, Seoul 1988 Olympic champion and twice World champion in the hammer throw works there with his group.
Both the father and the son have travelled around the world for quite a while. Sergey Litvinov junior was born in Rostov-on-Don. His mother is a Volga German, so in 1995, when Sergey was studying in the second grade, he left Russia for Germany along with his mother, brothers and sisters. There Sergey was involved in judo and even won the German Junior Championships. “Judo taught me how to work, taught me to understand sports. At first it was just kids’ club, we were just interacting and communicating. When the competitions started and I started losing, I felt a desire to improve. So I turned to my father for help,” Sergey recalled.
It would seem natural if Sergey decided to follow the footsteps of his father and take up the hammer throw, even more so with his father being a coach. But the son completely fell in love with judo at first sight, so the father was supportive, he always helped Sergey, accompanied him to training sessions and competitions, looked for training partners for him. But one day everything changed. Litvinov senior recalled: “One evening my son told me: “I want to try the hammer throw.” And I felt sorry about the time and effort he spent for judo.”
“I broke my finger during a judo training, so I had to take a break and decided to use it for the hammer. But we didn’t have an implement at home, so we tied some metal stuff to the kimono belt. It was the “implement” that I used for my first throws. Why did I stick with the hammer throw? The movement is very complicated there. And it is interesting! At first it’s just the direction of the throw that matters. Later you reali se how interesting it is to explore this movement… It may look monotonous, but there are never two similar throws. It is a creative process. Has its charm!” Litvinov junior smiled.
Soon they received a letter from the German judo team inviting Sergey to take part in the European Championships. If only it had happened a little bit earlier, when he was actually waiting for this invitation… “I was on the national judo team, but never made it to the European level, they always opted for other athletes. And when I got involved in the hammer throw, I received that invitation. It was hard to turn it down. I even considered losing some weight and going. But I decided it wasn’t worth it and declined,” Litvinov said.
What is important for a potential hammer thrower? “The kid can run and jump well, be well co-ordinated, but when he takes the implement – he doesn’t understand it. Discus, javelin and shot are being held in hands while hammer is being turned around in space. So that feeling of the implement – you either have it naturally or not. Sergey had it. It was the first step. Then he just needed to learn a lot,” Litvinov senior explained.
The main thing that Litvinov the coach tries to teach to his athletes is independence. “I try to teach them to think independently, so that they won’t be shocked when their sports career ends. Life is the same after sports. Everything depends on one’s ability to think. It’s much more difficult to learn how to think than to learn a movement. Sergey is successful at both. Lately he’s been making a lot of suggestions during our training sessions. Sometimes I agree, sometimes we argue, but I don’t feel like a teacher, I’m more of an assistant. He is independent and I can trust him,” Litvinov senior said.
It’s not easy to be a son of a great athlete and coach. On one hand, you can see what is ahead of you since your early years, but… “The road wasn’t easier for me than it was for other athletes. You can only walk it by yourself. The hammer is a soulless thing, it doesn’t matter about my father’s achievements. He always treated me the same way as he treats his other athletes. He even pays more attention to them than to me,” Litvinov revealed.
Sergey has been living in Germany for a long time, even received a citizenship there. The sports system in that country differs from the Russian one. “You join a sports club when you are a kid. They select kids for the club at children’s competitions. But if you’re not successful as a junior or an U23 athlete, you won’t be accepted to the army or the police. If the sports federation gives you a recommendation, you’re accepted and you can receive salary and keep on training,” Litvinov explained.
But life in Germany became more difficult. The father returned to Russia and the son had to spend six months a year in Russia at training camps. “I decided that it will be better to come back to my homeland. I grew up in Germany, but my name is Sergey Litvinov, so I had to compete for Russia. When you start to achieve something significant, it really matters,” Sergey explained.
So Sergey headed for Russia, but ended up in Belarus instead. “My dad was the head coach for the hammer throw in Russia. But he also coached a high-class Belarusian athlete Ivan Tikhon, three-time World champion. Ivan has been coming to my father to Germany first, then – to Russia. But the father decided to focus on Tikhon’s needs and moved to Belarus taking me there as well,” Litvinov said. It happened in 2001.
As a Belarusian Sergey took part in international junior competitions. His first major competition was the World Junior Championships 2004 in Grosseto, where he placed 9th. At the European Junior Championships in Kaunas in 2005 he also placed 9th. At the European U23 Championships 2007 Sergey was 11th with just 64.03 m, even though he had a season’s best of 74.80m. And he decided to come back… to Germany.
“No one was really waiting for me in Russia. There were some difficulties; I had to survive, so I took off to Germany. My failures at official competitions as a Belarusian actually helped me. You need to lose to get better. I started analysing things, searching for reasons behind defeats. It turned out to be very simple: we hadn’t travelled enough for competitions. After returning to Germany I started doing that, I hired a manager. And I realised: the more I compete, the better I perform,” noted Litvinov.
At the World Championships Berlin 2009, Sergey competed for Germany and placed fifth with 76.58 m. The same year he won his first ever national title. “Approximately at that same time I was asked in an interview: do you want to win and to her the German anthem playing in your honour? I didn’t really think about going back to Russia at that time, but somehow I replied that I’d rather hear the Russian anthem,” Litvinov smiled.
It turned out to be a prophecy: within six months he was back in Russia. Combining military service in Germany with professional sports turned out to be too much. He still heeded his father’s coaching advice. Litvinov’s life was split into halves: 6 months in Russia and 6 months in Germany every year. His first wife wasn’t happy with the schedule either, so they split.
Sergey was aware that there are proper training conditions in Russia, so he decided to leave Germany for the second time in his life. It happened in 2010. This time everything went well. He sat out the obligatory competition year for the transfer of allegiance. That break could last up to three years, but the German team didn’t object to the transfer so Sergey had only one year of inactivity.
The year 2011 turned out to be successful for Litvinov. He had been systematically sending his implement over 77-78m. He even managed to overcome the magical 80 m barrier in a training session, but couldn’t reproduce it in competition. “It’s difficult to say why. The 80m mark is a mental barrier in the first place,” noted Litvinov. But he was consistent. He threw 78.90m at the Russian Winter Throwing Championships, 78.87m at the Russian Championships in summer. But at the main competition, the Daegu 2011 World Championships, things didn’t go his way. “I was ready to perform, but on the day of departure I tweaked a back muscle during the training session. I was sure that it would heal within three days, but it turned out I was completely unable to throw. I competed through pain and achieved 74.80m for 15th place. Taking injury into account, it was a decent result,” Litvinov recalled.
At the Moscow Cup 2012 (“Kutz Memorial”) Sergey Litvinov unleashed his best throw of 80.98m. “When you really want to throw far, sometimes you just can’t make it happen. But when you are calm, there is no pressure… I didn’t even understand how it happened,” Sergey smiled.
But that success contained some elements of danger. When that magical barrier is behind you, you can think that everything below 80m isn’t exciting anymore. “No, I don’t think like that anymore. That feeling was the reason of my numerous mistakes last year. I was in a stunning shape. My hammer was flying over 80m at training sessions. I felt like I could neglect some technical aspects and it wouldn’t affect the distance. And I messed up my technique. At the Russian Championships that served as Olympic trials I made three fouls. On the day of the Olympic final I threw over 80m once again while the London 2012 gold medalist Krisztian Pars achieved 80.59m. Now I know that consistency is the key,” Litvinov said.
In the autumn of 2012 Sergey met his current wife, Olga. It was an interesting story. “My relative was looking for a wife for me in the internet for over a year. I let him do that. And one day he tells me he’d found her,” Litvinov said. Sergey started communicating with that girl through the web. They seemed to like each other, but when the “bride” found out that it was another man, who started the mail exchange, she was offended. But she kept her sense of humour. Olga, who is also from Moscow, started coming to Sergey’s training camps, even though she wasn’t an athlete herself.
The wedding also took place at a training camp. It was quick, sports-style. “Will you attend our wedding? We decided to do get married today,” said Sergey to his training partners one day. Next morning Sergey was training already, no rest for the newlywed. Now the couple is expecting their first child. It’s due in October.
However performance-wise everything was far from perfect. Litvinov injured his back in December 2012 and had to skip three months of training. “I only started training at the end of March. Light weights in the gym, 20-30 throws per sessions instead of 100. We didn’t expect any personal bests or whatever. But it turned out to be even better than a year ago!” Litvinov said.
On 30 June 2013 Sergey won the “Znamensky Memorial” with 78.80m. Then, at the lucky “Kutz Memorial” he placed first with 80.89 m. “After that meeting everyone started hanging the Moscow 2013 medal around my neck. But I’m not thinking about it, I only aim for consistency,” Sergey explained. Then he placed third at the World Universiade in Kazan with 78.08 m. After his best effort he thought he had won, as the rain started pouring down. “I was sure that no one could surpass me in such conditions, but for the last throw the rain stopped and athletes from Poland and Slovakia beat me,” Litvinov recalled.
The main competition of the season is the 14th IAAF World Championships in Moscow. To qualify for the team Litvinov had to be successful at the Russian Championships. Mainly, not to make three fouls in the qualification like in 2012. And there it was, 24 July, the final of the National Trials. “I didn’t even think about the rivals. It was the distance that mattered,” he said. Sergey threw 77.77m and won the gold.
What to expect from the World Championships? His preparation wasn’t ideal due to that back injury. But anything can happen. “The main competition is always full of surprises,” Litvinov believes. “Our event is not at its top now. Yes, the Hungarian Krisztian Pars is very consistent, he hardly lost any competition this year. But there aren’t many strong rivals. There aren’t many hammer throwers at all, what would happen if someone drops out? It would be such a shame!” Litvinov said.
But doesn’t this state of the events give an opportunity to the young athletes? “No, I don’t think it’s any beneficial. We don’t have anyone to learn from in terms of technique. Most of the throwers focus on power. This style doesn’t have much room from progress. Technical improvements could lead to much higher results. There wasn’t anything new in our event since the 80-ies. And there are less athletes competing. The World record stands since 1986 – 86.74 m set by Yuriy Sedykh. There were nine of us competing at the Russian Championships, while at the USSR Championships there were about 100 hammer throwers. The level of competition was completely different,” Litvinov explained.
It is difficult to improve in such conditions. Sergey Litvinov senior asks his athletes to think, to be always involved in the process, as their event is extremely tricky. “There is no unified technique that allows to throw far. Out of 50 thousand throws that an athlete does throughout his career, there won’t be two similar ones. You can aim for consistency, but you need to understand that it is unattainable. It is non-existent. You need to improvise. We change, even if we don’t notice these changes. You need to develop, the life is like a river that flows. You need to keep searching the answers for this kind of question: why yesterday it worked and today it doesn’t. Why? Through the inconsistency, through the quest for the ideal we can reach the consistency of results,” the coach explained.
80.98 m (2012)
2005: 73.98; 2006: 66.72; 2007: 74.80; 2008: 75.35; 2009: 77.88; 2010: 78.98; 2011: 78.90; 2012: 80.98; 2013: 80.89
2004 9th World Junior Championships (Grosseto) 67.11
2005 9th European Junior Championships (Kaunas) 65.95 (71.04q)
2007 11th European U23 Championships (Debrecen) 64.03 (69.03q)
2009 5th World Championships (Berlin) 76.58 (77.68 q)
2011 q World Championships (Daegu) 74.80
2013 5th European Team Championships (Gateshead) 74.17
2013 3rd World Universiade (Kazan) 78.08
Prepared by Nika Peschinskaya for the IAAF “Focus on Athletes” project. Copyright IAAF 2013