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Unlike other throwing events such as shotput, discus, and hammer, the technique used to throw the javelin is dictated by IAAF rules. "Non-orthodox" techniques are not permitted in professional competition.

The javelin must be held at its grip and thrown overhand, over the thrower's shoulder or upper arm. The althlete is prohibited from turning completely around to point at which his back faces the direcion of the throw. This regulation prevents throwers from attempting to spin and hurl the javelin sidearm. Javelin throwers are provided with a 4 meter wide runway that is at least 30 meters long. The runway ends in a curved arc from which their throw will be measured. Like the other throwing events, the thower may not leave the throwing area until after the implement lands. The need to stop before the arc limits how close the athlete can come to the line and the maximum speed achieved at the tim the javelin is released.

The javelin is thrown towards a "sector" covering an angle of 29 degres that extends outward from the arc at the end of the runway. A throw is only legal if the tip of the javelin lands within the sector, and the tip strikes the grand before any other part of the javelin. The distance of the throw is measured from the throwing arc to the point where the tip of the javelin landed. The distance is rounded down to the nearest centimeter.

A round consists of one attempt by each competitor in turn, and competitions typically consist of three to six rounds. The thrower with the longest single legal throw (over all rounds) is the winner; in case of a tie the competitors' second-longest throws are also considered. Competitions involving large numbers of athletes sometimes use a "cut": all competitors compete in the first three rounds, but only those who are currently among the top eight or have achieved a minimum distance are permitted to attempt to improve on their distance in an additional three rounds.


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Ethan Wright