HideHistory and the javelin at the Olympics
During the era between the Mycenaean times and the Roman Empire, the javelin was a commonly used offensive weapon. Being lighter than the spear, the javelin would be thrown rather than thrust and thus allowed long distance attacks against one’s enemy. Athletes, however, used javelins that were much lighter than military ones because the idea of the event was to demonstrate distance rather than penetration. The one major difference between the javelin of the ancient games and the javelin of more modern times is a leather thong, called an ankyle that was wound around the middle of the shaft. Athletes would hold the javelin by the thong and when the javelin released this thong unwound giving the javelin a spiraled flight.
The javelin throw has a particularly strong tradition in the Nordic nations of Europe. Of the 69 Olympic medals that have been awarded in the men's javelin, 32 have gone to competitors fromNorway
, or Finland
Finland is the only nation to have ever swept the medals at a currently recognized official Olympics, and has done so twice, in 1920 and 1932. (However, Sweden swept the first four places at the 1906 Intercalated Games
. Finland's 1920 sweep also featured an additional fourth place finish. Sweeping the first four places is no longer possible, as only three entrants per country are allowed.) In 1912, Finland also swept the medals in the only appearance
in the Olympics of two-handed javelin, an event in which the implement was separately thrown with both the right hand and the left hand and the marks were added together. Quite popular in Finland and Sweden at the time, this event soon faded into obscurity, together with similar variations of the shot and the discus.
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