Dear Officials, Coaches, and Meet Directors,
We have recently had two of our Officials severely injured in the throwing events. Thank goodness neither injury was life threatening (two broken legs). It is with this in mind, I feel that it is time that we all review the safety procedures that we use in conducting the throwing events. The following procedures are suggestions for making the event safer. You may agree or disagree with these procedures but I feel it is very important to consider them. If you feel differently about them, feel free to e-mail your suggestions or criticisms to firstname.lastname@example.org
- I. SCHEDULING
Whenever possible the long throws should be scheduled when there is adequate sunlight left for completion of the event before dusk. If a lighted field is being used it should be lighted adequately that all areas of the field are well lit and there are not any places on the field where an official might be blinded by the lights. Care should also be taken when the event is held in bright sunlight. Take notice of the position of the sun so that the Officials are aware and will not lose the implement in the sun.
In scheduling the event, adequate time for warm up should be scheduled so that the Officials do not feel the need to rush through the warm-up in order to meet a set schedule for the event that would compromise safety procedures. Extra time for safety is imperative.
In the hammer and javelin, events should be scheduled when the fewest number of other athletes are on the track or in the area.
- II. THE FIELD
The throwing field should be a level turf field that does not have holes or divots and is free from debris that could cause an Official to fall and be put in danger of being hit by an implement. All divots should be filled with sand immediately after each competition in order to prepare the field for the next competition. The time spent on this simple chore is important to the safety of the next event.
All throwing fields should be surrounded with adequate flagging or barriers to keep competitors, fans, photographers, coaches and other athletes out of the throwing sectors. Adequate signage should be used to warn these individuals of the dangers involved in being in the throwing area.
- III. THE WARM-UP
In all the long throws the circle/runway should be prepared for the warm-up. The circle/runway should be clean and free of debris: the circle/runway should be swept , and towels placed nearby (conspicuously) for the competitors to clean their feet in order not to carry debris into the circle/runway.
As always no warm-ups should be allowed until Officials are present at the venue.. Implements should be checked in well ahead of the start of competition and should not be available to the competitors then until the beginning of the warm-up period.
In the javelin, the picking warm ups should be done with one pick line, going in the same direction being controlled by two officials with red flags. All competitors should be in one straight line with an official on each end of the line with a red flag to control the progress of the pick line down the field. Every athlete should throw and then the entire line should be walked up to retrieve the implements. No one should be allowed to throw until all the athletes have retrieved their implements and are back in the straight line behind the officials who are posted at each end of the line. The procedure should be repeated with the Officials making the decision when it is safe to throw. The Officials should be cognizant of the remaining length of the field to keep these throws from going onto the track or into another event area. When picks are ongoing, the participants, officials and spectators should be aware that occasionally a javelin will not stick but slide.
In all the long throws the circle/runway should be prepared for the warm-up. The circle/runway should be clean and free of debris, the circle/runway should be swept , and towels placed outside the circle/runway for the competitors to clean their feet in order not to carry debris into the ring.
It is at this time that I suggest the Officials use an Organized Warm-up Procedure:
- All Officials, competitors, and retrievers should exit the sector and wait outside the sector lines at a safe distance and with their eyes on the circle/runway at all times.
- An official at the ring should then open the ring for warm-ups.
- The athletes should enter the circle/runway one at a time and take a warm-up throw while leaving the implements in the sector until 5 throws have been made.
- The official at the circle/runway should then enter the circle/runway with a red flag and close the circle/runway.
- At this time, and only at this time , the retrievers and officials should enter the sector and retrieve the 5 implements. They should be safely returned to the circle/runway.
- When the sector is cleared of all personnel then the Official at the runway/circle/runway should open the sector up for 5 more throwers to throw.
- This procedure should be repeated until the warm-up is finished.
- THE COMPETITION
The competition should be conducted while only allowing the competitor who is up, on deck, or on hold to have an implement in their hands. Implements should be inspected to make after each throw by the retrievers to make sure no damage has been done to the implement that might make it unsafe. Damaged implements should be taken to the implement inspectors for repair, re-inspection, or possible impounding.
The head judge should control the athletes entering the circle/runway so that all involved are aware when the athlete is in the circle/runway ready to make their throw.
Officials will need to be in the sector but should be well back in order to let the implement land safely. try to note the distances being throw late in the warmups of the hammer and position yourself a good 20 meters to the side and rear of the projected impact site.
Everyone involved should have their eyes focused on the circle/runway when a competitor is in the ring and ready to make a throw. Never turn your back on a thrower or the circle/runway.
Sector officials should never walk or run backwards. If they have to move over one step backwards, they should turn around and run forward. This will minimize the chance of falling or tripping.
Officials should keep in mind that Hammers are heavy implements that will make a mark in the sector when they land and Javelins usually stick in the ground upon landing and therefore should give the implement adequate time to land before rushing in to get the mark.
The discus should be judged from the side whenever possible to avoid the implement skipping into an Official who may be directly behind the landing implement or inthe line of the implement’s ricochet, which may not be straight, depending upon the surface of the landing area. Also wind may carry discus to side and the natural throwing motion will make it go to the field officials right for a right handed thrower and to the left for a left handed thrower.
In the shot put make sure spectators are a safe distance away from the right side of a right handed thrower and a safe distance away from the left of a left handed thrower , especially if the thrower is using the spin technique.
After the competition is completed, the circle/runway/runway/runway should be closed with no further throws allowed until time for the next throwing event to begin warm-ups.
These are not new procedures. They have all been used before by us at various meets. It is time though that we review these procedures in order to make these events as safe as possible.
1996 Olympic Games Official
Officials Coordinator for