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Javelin Throwing in Athletics: Have Kids Been Injured by a Javelin?

Javelin Throwing in Athletics: Have Kids Been Injured by a Javelin?
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According to The Wall Street Journal, the ancient sport of javelin throwing is becoming increasingly common at American track and field rallies. But parents, coaches and young athletes are still divided on whether this trend is putting people at risk.

Is the spear dangerous?

While data shows that javelin-related injuries are far from common, the event appears quite threatening to the naked eye. After all, it’s about wielding an ancient weapon.

“I’m terrified of it,” Simon Ocampo, a teacher and javelin throwing coach at Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona, told The Wall Street Journal. “If you think about it, we’re one poke away from shutting this thing down — I mean everywhere.”

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And there have certainly been some high-profile, gruesome javelin throws over the years. The Journal highlighted a moment in 2016 when a teenager was stabbed in the eye with the end of the spear during a warm-up.

“Parker Kennedy, while following a short warm-up throw, essentially shot himself in the rear end of the spear, which drifted into his eyelid and into his brain,” the article noted.

In Utah, a newspaper photographer was once hit with a spear while covering the high school track championship.

“He had walked onto the playing field for the javelin throw and a spear came straight at him. It pierced the skin just below his left knee,” NPR reported at the time in May 2008.

But overall, “the rate of serious direct injuries in high school athletics lags behind that in some other sports,” The Wall Street Journal reported, based on data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.

“Four catastrophic injuries related to the javelin at all levels of competition have been recorded by the Center for Catastrophic Injuries since 2013. Two high school and two college athletes were impaled by a spear. Two of the athletes were javelin throwers, one was a discus thrower and one was a runner. According to the center, all athletes made a full recovery from their injuries,” the Journal reported.

Is the spear making a comeback?

Largely because of safety concerns, many states have chosen not to include the javelin in their athletic competitions. That helps explain why the US underperformed in the Olympic-level event, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“The javelin throw is one of the worst-performing events for the U.S. national team, which has otherwise won four times as many Olympic track and field medals as any other country. American women have won a total of three Olympic medals in javelin, the most recent in 1976, and American men have won five medals, most recently half a century ago,” the article reads.

However, the Journal noted that the tide is beginning to turn. In the past six years, five states have added javelin to their high school championships, meaning more than half of the states now offer the event.

The key to keeping the trend going is making sure everyone is taking safety precautions. The Wall Street Journal reported that many schools require rubber tips on spears and that students, coaches and family members are warned to pay close attention to their surroundings.

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