The javelin did not stop to fly: On July 20th, 1984 Uwe Hohn threw the 800 gram implement to 104.80m in Berlin, Germany. It was the farthest throw the athletic history has seen and it will (probably) remain forever. Because the new javelin with modified flight characteristics would have been introduced even without the new world record.
We write 20 July 1984: A silver-gray, 800 grams heavy aluminum javelin flies from a soccer goal almost to the other goal. The commentator in the Ludwig-Jahn Stadium (East Berlin) raises the voice at the “Olympic Day”: “It was exactly 19:54 GMT +1 in the second attempt – Uwe Hohn from Potsdam. Hohn has not only tickled the 100 meters, he threw over it and was measured 104.80m!”.
It is everyones dream that an implement flies forever. For Uwe Hohn it almost turned into reality. Four days after his 22nd birthday the 1.98m Potsdamer achieved the first and only throw above the magical 100m mark in more than 100 years of athletics record history. Officials and spectators were concerned because the javelin landed not far from a high jump mat.
No footprints in the grass
There was not alone this safety aspect. Also for other reasons a discussion about a reform was started. As part of professionalised athletics, only a few centimeters can decide for the gold medals, prize money and sponsorship contracts, had finally come to an end with discussion about dubios throws, which left no mark in the grass. A recurring topic with the “sailing javelin” which often slipped further after landing. This has repeatedly lead to dissaproval among athletes and especially judges who ultimately had to decide between victory and defeat. By the way, the new world record throw of Uwe Hohn landed perfectly in the lawn.
Already on May 15, 1983, the American Tom Petranoff came the 100m limit perilously close. In Los Angeles, his javelin flew to an impressive 99.72m. Three years earlier, the Hungarian Ferenc Paragi first – cracked the 95m mark – with 96.72m. Therefore, the IAAF has reviewed around two years before Hohn’s throw a rule change, says Imre Matrahazi, Technical Manager of the IAAF. Even without Hohn’s “throw for eternity” a reform would have come.
End of July 1984, the the IAAF decided to have future build javelins with aerodynamically unfavorable flight characteristics. The center of gravity came a few inches forward. The javelin landed earlier. Worldwide every athelte had to use the modified implement. The world record “tumbled” first down.
Tafelmeier became the first world record of a new era
After the reform-date on April 1, 1986, the world best throwers first came only around 80m throws. There were a lot of athletes who did not like to throw so far beneath their personal bests. In some cases, the throwers stopped throwing the javelin. Not so Klaus Tafelmeier. On 21.9.1986 Tafelmeier became the first world record holder of the new era.
“In Como I came up with 85.74m. Since the best performance of the year was recognized as the first world record, I was just the lucky one who was allowed to go on the list, “said the European champion of 1986. The intended purpose of the reform was true: The javelins stuck after the flight in ground, which eased up the work for the judges.
Changed women’s javelin
The former javelin was considered to be very well for precise throwers. Experts expected a different outcome for the new implement. They thought that the new javelin would be better for throwers with a lot of strengths. This has not come true. Many of today’s world class throwers are not pure strenghts throwers, they are rather fast, powerful and technically advanced. The best proof is the slim Czech Jan Zelezny, who scored 98.48m unmatched with the new implement in May 1996.
About ten years after the men’s javelin reform the women followed. The 200gram lighter implement was also changed in the late 1990s with the center of gravity. Thereby, terminating the “fable” world record of 80.00m by the DDR thrower Petra Felke from 1988.
For many of the world records in the 1980s, the two expectional throws also have a bitter aftertaste. Both Felkes and Hohn’s name appear in the published GDR documents of doping abuse. For Hohn 1,135 milligrams Oral-Turinabol are accurately recorded in 1985. This is less than in most of the other DDR throwers from the doping time.
Due to he javelin reforms there will be no 80m throws in women and 100m throws in men javelin event be seen for a long time. For men are often 85 to 88m sufficient for international medals and for the women 65 to 68m are usually enough.
Uwe Hohn Javelin World Record 104,80m
Source: Leichtathletik – Specialist Magazine by Gerd Michalek