Shot Put: The Basics

Shot Put: The Basics

"Running" is most likely the first thing people think of when the words "Track and Field" are brought up. Whether it's sprinting or long distance, we tend to associate running with Track and Field, and forget about the other events that are also under the umbrella of the sport. While running is obviously a big part of the sport, don't forget that Track & Field consists of events pertaining to running, as well as jumping, and throwing.

One event in particular that's part of the "throwing" category is the "Shot Put" event. Shot Put has become one of the most intriguing events in Track & Field due to it's simplicity, as well as it's strange uniqueness. The event has gained a lot of popularity throughout the years as more and more athletes are leaning towards participating in Shot Put. Let's take a look at it's history, the rules of the event, as well as some people who have found success in the event:

History: Some say it's roots were delved in the Ancient Greek days, where athletes threw stones and considered it a sport. Others say it began during the Middle Ages, where soldiers threw cannon balls as a competition. However, historians have found records showing that the sport officially began at the Highland Games in Scotland in the 19th century. There, competitors threw a rounded stone or cube, or metal weight from behind a marked line. Historians note that it was very similar to the discipline as we know it as today. Since 1896, Men's Shot Put has been apart of every modern Olympics games, while the Women's Shot Put has been at every Olympics games since 1948.

The Rules: The "shot" (a metal ball) is 7.26kg/16lb for men, and 4kg/8.8lb for women. The objective is for the athlete to "put" (not throw!) the shot with one hand as far as possible from a seven-foot diameter circle, that also has a curved 10 centimeter high toe-board at the front. The shot can never drop below the athlete's shoulder line during the put, and must land inside of a designated 35-degree sector in order for the put to be measured. In addition to that, the athlete cannot touch the top of the toe-board during their put, and can't leave the circle until the shot has landed. Athletes throw about 4 to 6 times a competition, and in the event of a tie, the winner is the athlete with the "next-best" effort. 

Famous Shot-Putters: On the men's side, Parry O'Brien is often considered one of the best shot-putters to ever compete. He became the first male in over 40 years to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals when he won in both the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games. He also won a silver medal in the 1960 Olympic games. He is credited with creating the "O'Brien technique" (AKA the glide technique), which is when the putter faces backwards at the rear of the circle, and then rotates through 180 degrees before releasing the shot.

On the women's side, New Zealand's Valerie Adams is one of the more popular shot-put athletes of our generation. As a teenager, she took home the World U-18 and World U-20 titles in 2001 and 2002 respectively. Fast forward to 2013, and she became the first athlete (male or female) to win four consecutive world titles in the shot. To date, she has also won 2 Olympics gold medals, 4 world gold medals, and 4 indoor gold medals. 

 

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