Now I Know: The World Record That Will Definitely Stick

The title is a pun and I'm very proud of it. -- Dan

The World Record That Will Definitely Stick

On August 7, 2021, Indian athlete Neeraj Chopra took the field at Japan National Stadium, representing his country in the pandemic-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics. When he left the stadium, he did so a champion -- Chopra's second attempt at the javelin throw went 87.58 meters, enough to take gold by nearly a full meter. His coach at the time, Uwe Hohn, was probably very proud of him; Chopra's medal was the first ever gold earned by a track and field competitor for India. 

Had Chopra taken the exact same javelin and traveled back in time to compete against his coach during his coach's heyday, Chopra would have lost -- by a lot. Uwe Hohn is the man behind the longest javelin throw ever on record --  104.80 meters, all the way back in 1984 -- and it's incredibly unlikely that Chopra, or anyone else, will ever break that mark. 

But don't blame Chopra. It's not his fault. Blame the javelin.

If you're not familiar with the sport of javelin throwing, it's pretty simple. Competitors have a javelin -- a really long stick -- in their hands, typically with a pointed end. One by one, they grab their stick, take a running start, and then throw the javelin as far as they can, within the two white lines as seen in the diagram above. Provided that the competitor doesn't run too far forward (crossing that bulging white line in the middle of the image above) and the javelin lands point first and in-bounds, the throw is legal. The competitor who throws the javelin the furthest wins. 

Like most other Olympic sports, we tend to see world records fall every few years. Athletes get faster and stronger, techniques become more refined, and technology improves. And for decades, javelin throwing was no exception. For the sport's first 70 years as an Olympic event, the world record fell more than 30 times. 

Unfortunately, as throws got longer, they also became controversial. Over time, javelin throwers and manufacturers changed their approach to the sport; instead of aiming for a high launch angle and long arch, they focused on throws that stayed more parallel to the ground in hopes of increasing the total throw distance. But this caused a problem in judging the outcomes of the throw. For a javelin throw to be legal, the front has to land first. And sometimes, it's hard to tell what part of the javelin touched the ground first. As The Centre for Sports Engineering Research explains, "there was an increasing amount of times when the javelin would land flat on the ground, resulting in heated protests when these throws were declared invalid by the competition officials." Starting in the early 1980s, the International Amateur Athletic Federation discussed changing the javelin's acceptable design parameters to prevent these flat landings.

But before the IAAF could act, the javelin became downright dangerous. Hohn's 104.80-meter throw was the first to break the 100-meter barrier, and that caused a safety concern. An errant throw at that distance could easily make its way into the crowd, spearing an innocent bystander who is hoping to get close to the competition, but not that close. So in 1986, the IAAF introduced new rules requiring a number of changes to the javelin -- changing its center of gravity and, ultimately, making it much harder to throw such long distances.

As a result, Uwe Hohn's world record is probably unapproachable. And that's not great for competition, so officially, it's no longer the world record that javelin throwers aim for. The IAAF reset the records in 1986, only counting throws made by throwers using now-legal javelins. A Czech athlete named Jan Železný now holds the record at 98.48 meters, and that make has stood for more than 26 years. It's unlikely if anyone will ever come close to matching Hohn's mark.

Now I Know is supported by readers like you. Please consider becoming a patron by supporting the project on Patreon. 

Click here to pledge your support. (If you do, in gratitude, you'll have an ad-free Now I Know experience going forward.)

Bonus fact: Uwe Hohn's record is still an official one, but Jan Železný's first world record was rescinded -- and again, not through any fault of his own. In 1990, some throwers, including Železný, began using a javelin with a serrated tail, which was legal at the time but ended up effectively reversing the changes made under the 1986 javelin modification requirements. In July of 1990, Železný used one of these serrated javelins to break the UK's Steve Backley's record (which Backley had set just 12 days prior using a non-serrated javelin); six days after that, Backley took back his record, using a serrated javelin. The IAAF outlawed serrated javelins the next year and rescinded both Železný's and Backley's throws (and two others by Finland's Seppo Räty). Železný, using a non-serrated javelin, finally took the record from Backley in 1993 and broke his own record twice thereafter.

From the Archives: Eric the Eel: An unlikely Olympian. 
Like today's Now I Know? Share it with a friend -- just forward this email along.
And if someone forwarded this to you, consider signing up! Just click here.
Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Archives · Privacy Policy

Copyright © 2022 Now I Know LLC, All rights reserved.
You opted in, at via a contest, giveaway, or the like -- or you wouldn't get this email.

Now I Know is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Some images above via Wikipedia.

Now I Know's mailing address is:
Now I Know LLC
P.O. Box 536
Mt. Kisco, NY 10549-9998

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your email address or unsubscribe from this list

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

Key phrases

Older messages

Now I Know: Maybe Today Should Still Be the Weekend

Monday, July 18, 2022

Happy Saint Monday? View this email in your browser · Missed one? Visit the Archives The title is both the start of today's fun fact and also a little bit of wishful thinking on my part. -- Dan

It's the Now I Know Weekender!

Friday, July 15, 2022

Some long reads for the weekend View this email in your browser · Missed an issue? Click here! If you're new to Now I Know, you'll notice that today's format is different than the rest of

Now I Know: The Herd Mentality That's Actually Rather Democratic

Thursday, July 14, 2022

And female-first! View this email in your browser · Missed one? Visit the Archives Thank you to reader Wade C. for suggesting this topic. Have a story idea? You can reply to this (or any) newsletter

Now I Know: A Profitable Way to Stop Telemarketers

Thursday, July 14, 2022

A creative way to turn the tables View this email in your browser · Missed one? Visit the Archives This is something I wrote five years ago today; I don't know if it'll still work but I'm

Now I Know: The Center of the Universe, Oklahoma Edition

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Given the effect, it's probably more accurately described as a Total Perspective Vortex, at least if the President of the Galaxy is using it. View this email in your browser · Missed one? Visit the

Now I Know: The Other Projects On My Mind

Friday, October 7, 2022

It's the Now I Know Weekender! View this email in your browser · Missed an issue? Click here! If you're new to Now I Know, you'll notice that today's format is different than the rest

Influence Weekly #253 - How Shiseido unlocked new influencer marketing success

Friday, October 7, 2022

Jack in the Box seeks full-time Twitch streamer Influence Weekly #253 October 7th, 2022 Executive Summary How Shiseido unlocked new influencer marketing success Triller battles gauntlet of lawsuits as

🎤 S.W.I.P.E.S. Email (Friday October 7th, 2022)

Friday, October 7, 2022

The SWIPES Email Swipe📁 • Wisdom🧠 • Interesting🧐 • Picture🖼 • Essay📄 • Sketch✎ ​A fun email for Friday. I hope you enjoy! Edition: Friday, October 7th, 2022​ ​ 🎤 Listen to this email here: ​ ​ Swipe: I

Time Suckers

Friday, October 7, 2022

Freedom is the biggest motivation for content entrepreneurs, but that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

🧙‍♂️ Stop asking your creator friends how much they charge

Friday, October 7, 2022

do THIS instead ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Daily Boost: October 7, 2022

Friday, October 7, 2022

​ ​ ​ Something to ponder: The good thing about success is that you can define it on your own terms. Not every website has to be a million-dollar asset. Set a monthly traffic or income goal that will


Friday, October 7, 2022

What pulls us to magic? Is it something deep and inexplicable, or can we understand it as wonder? Snipette Snipette Abracadabra By Chelsea Iversen – 07 Oct 2022 – View online → What pulls us to magic?

❓ You were supposed to read this…

Thursday, October 6, 2022

​view in browser​ You were supposed to read this… It's not getting easier out there, especially in the world of business. How will you react? ​ We know how the members of our Cashflow community

Progress Report 12: Workshops

Thursday, October 6, 2022

A bit of a rant about online educational events ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

3-2-1: Simple mindset shifts, aligning thoughts and actions, and being contrarian

Thursday, October 6, 2022

3 ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to consider this week. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌