Tom Petranoff, United States

Tom Petranoff

World Record: 99.72m (327' 2") Los Angeles, USA 15 May 1983

Tom Petranoff was originally a baseball pitcher, whose fastball was once timed at 97 miles (156 kilometers) per hour. He graduated at the Howe Military Academy, Indiana, in 1976 and took up the javelin in 1977, at age 18. In 1980 he was fourth in the U.S. Olympic trials.

At the 1983 Pepsi Invitational Meet in Los Angeles he hurled the javelin 99.72 meters, adding a massive three meters (9' 10") to the record and getting agonizingly close to the 100-meter mark. After this performance he was a favorite for the Los Angeles Olympics, especially since the East Europeans boycotted the Games; this meant that the latest world record holder, Uwe Hohn (East Germany), would not be competing.

Petranoff's hopes were raised when he led the qualifying rounds. However the pressure of being favorite in the final appeared to affect him, and he later described himself as feeling "flat". The swirling winds in the Coliseum didn't help. In a disastrous day, he finished 10th with 78.40 meters (257' 3"). At the 1988 Seoul Olympics it was worse: He failed to get through the qualifying rounds.

source: World Record Breakers in Track & Field Athletics

Go back