- 29 Jul 1980
- Moscow 1980
Hammer time for Sedykh
Yuri Sedykh’s domination of hammer throwing in the late 1970s and 1980s became so complete that he was possibly the only exponent of the discipline that many members of the public could readily identify.
Sedykh was hammer-throwing, and had it not been for the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, the Ukrainian-born Russian would rank alongside the great multiple champions.
As it was, Sedykh went into his home Olympics as the defending champion after winning gold in Montreal four years earlier aged just 21 and with all the major nations competing.
Come the time of Moscow, it was a matter of which Russian was going to take the honours.
Sedykh and team-mate Sergei Litvinov had been at each other’s throats in the competitive sense throughout their careers.
Three years Sedykh’s senior, Litvinov had always been the Ukrainian’s biggest rival, and so it proved in the cauldron of Moscow’s Grand Arena.
The two Russians and team mate Juri Tamm qualified easily enough for the final, and with German thrower Karl-Heinz Riehm - the only real threat - prevented from competing by the boycott, the crowd was set for a world class showdown.
However, as a competitive spectacle it was short-lived.
Sedykh strode into the circle in the first round and performed his explosive three-rotation throw, which he dubbed “the dance”, and sent the hammer out to a new world record mark of 81.80m
Litvinov’s best effort of 80.64m also came in the first round, but such was his desperation for that missing piece of blistering pace and agility in the circle that he then recorded five straight fouls.
Two years after Los Angeles, Sedykh set another world record of 86.74m that stands to this day. In 1988, he won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Seoul, his nemesis Litvinov this time taking the honours.