Tom Petranoff
Personal information
Full nameThomas Alan Petranoff
Born (1958-04-08) April 8, 1958 (age 65)
Aurora, Illinois, U.S.
Height1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight109 kg (240 lb)
Achievements and titles
Personal bests99.72 m (old implement)
NR 89.16 m (1991)
Medal record
Men's Athletics
Representing  United States
World Championships
Silver medal – second place 1983 Helsinki Javelin
Olympic Boycott Games
Silver medal – second place 1980 Philadelphia Javelin
Representing South Africa South Africa
African Championships in Athletics
Gold medal – first place 1992 Mauritius Javelin
Gold medal – first place 1993 Durban Javelin

Thomas Alan Petranoff (born April 8, 1958) is a retired American track and field athlete who competed in the javelin throw. He held the world record (old implement javelin) from May 1983 to July 1984; his 99.72 m (327 ft) throw was almost the length of an American football field (360 feet (110 meters). During his career, he was a silver medalist at the World Championships in 1983 and represented the United States at the Summer Olympics in 1984 and 1988. He transferred to South Africa in the 1990s and was twice a winner at the African Championships. His personal best with the new implement javelin is 89.16 m (292.5 ft). In the final years of his career, he returned to the United States and won a medal at the 1999 Pan American Games.


Petranoff's world record added precisely three meters to the previous global standard of 96.72 m, set in 1980 by Hungary's Ferenc Paragi. Petranoff's effort fueled further discussion and speculation regarding the likelihood of alterations to the javelin's design and flight characteristics. Propelled by the need to shorten distances and the then frequent flat or ambiguous landings (which resulted in many controversial official judgements), a change to a new design finally took effect in April 1986.[1] By then, East German Uwe Hohn had greatly improved Petranoff's mark with a throw of 104.80 meters. This throw came after the changes had been officially proposed and (unlike Petranoff's record) was not a driving cause of the change.[1]

Petranoff's mark with the old javelin design was never exceeded by any throw other than Hohn's mark. He also did well with the new design; his personal best of 89.16, thrown at Potchefstroom, South Africa on March 1, 1991, was at the time the second best ever (excluding marks thrown with a soon-to-be-banned "rough-tailed javelin" that had been introduced by Miklós Németh), behind only Steve Backley's world record of 89.58 m.

In 1984, Petranoff won the Superstars championship with a record score of 61 points. He qualified for the United States Olympic Team, but finished a disappointing 10th in the final in Los Angeles.

A native of Illinois, Petranoff later became a citizen of South Africa and competed for that country in various international competitions.

Personal life

Petranoff is also the inventor of the "Turbo Javelin." This implement is used for javelin practice, especially of the indoor kind. Made of heavy-duty plastic and a rubber tip, the turbo javelin is very safe and ideal for indoor practice, and makes a good substitute for younger throwers as the official javelin can be dangerous. It is now used in its own competitions for people of all ages and is great for recreation departments and much more. The world record holder with the turbo javelin is Breaux Greer of the U.S.A.

Petranoff now lives in California; he has coached for institutions such as Boston University.

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Notes
Representing the United States
1984 Olympic Games Los Angeles, United States 10th 78.40 m
1986 Goodwill Games Moscow, Soviet Union 1st 83.46 m
1987 World Championships Rome, Italy 4th 81.28 m
1988 Olympic Games Seoul, South Korea 18th (q) 77.48 m
Representing  South Africa
1992 African Championships Mauritius 1st 87.26 m
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 22nd (q) 75.26 m
African Championships Durban, South Africa 1st 82.40 m
Representing the United States
1999 Pan American Games Winnipeg, Canada 3rd 75.95 m


  1. ^ a b Erich Bremicker. "Why did the senior javelin specification have to be changed?".