March 26, 2008
Shot Put Introduction
Homer makes mention of competitions of rock throwing by soldiers during the siege of Troy. In the XVI century King Henry VIII was noted for his prowess in court competitions of weight and hammer throwing and in the XVII century English soldiers organized cannonball throwing competitions.
The rules of the competition were first established in 1860, when the throw had to be made from a square with sides of seven feet (2.13m). This was replaced in 1906 by a seven foot diameter circle. The weight of the shot was fixed at 16 pounds (7.257 kg). Bent arm throws were outlawed for being too dangerous and competitors had to hold the shot in the crook of the neck prior to release.
The sidestep action in the circle was invented in the United States in 1876.In 1951 Parry O’Brien (USA) refined a new technique. From a start position facing the back of the circle, O’Brien rotated 180 degrees to move across the circle before making the final release. This helped him become the first to break the 18m (and subsequently the 19m) barrier.
In 1976 Aleksandr Baryshnikov pioneered the rotational technique, similar to that used by discus throwers, which has become increasingly popular.
A women’s shot put competition with a 4 kg implement was first held in France in 1917. The inaugural IAAF world record dates back to 1934 with the event making its Olympic debut in 1948. Until 1927 women’s contests were also held with shots weighing 8 pounds and 5 kilograms.
First official world record: 14.38 Gisela Mauermayer GER 1934
First over 16m: 16.00 Galina Zybina URS 1953
First over 18m: 18.55 Tamara Press URS 1962
First over 20m: 20.09 Nadezhda Chizhova URS 1969
First over 22m: 22.32 Helena Fibingerová TCH 1977
First over 22.50m: 22.53 Natalya Lisovskaya URS 1984
Most durable world record: 22.63 Natalya Lisovskaya 1987 (13 years)
Most competitions over 22m: Ilona Slupianek 14
Most Olympic titles: 2 Tamara Press URS 1960/1964
Most World titles:
3 Astrid Kumbernuss GER 1995/1997/1999
Youngest Olympic/World champion: Galina Zybina 1952 (21) Oldest: Ivanka Khristova BUL 1976 (34)
Three all time greats
Nadezhda Chizhova (URS): The successor to Tamara Press as world record holder crashed through both the 20m (1969) and 21m barriers, the latter when winning the 1972 Olympic gold medal.
Natalya Lisovskaya (URS): Her world record of 22.63m, dating back to 1987, has not been seriously threatened; no one has been within a metre of it since 1990. Other honours included world & Olympic titles.
Astrid Kumbernuss (GER): A superb competitor, she won the Olympic crown in 1996 as well as three consecutive world titles, the first of them in 1995 by a record 1.18m margin.
First official world record: 15.54 Ralph Rose USA 1909
First over 17m: 17.40 Jack Torrance USA 1934
First over 60ft: 18.42 Parry O’Brien USA 1954
First over 20m: 20.06 Bill Nieder USA 1960
First over 70ft: 21.52 Randy Matson USA 1965
First over 22m: 22.00 Aleksandr Baryshnikov URS 1976
First over 23m: 23.06 Ulf Timmermann GDR 1988
Most durable world record:
15.54 Ralph Rose 1909 (18 years)
Most competitions over 22m: Ulf Timmermann 21
Most Olympic titles:
2 Ralph Rose 1904/1908
2 Parry O’Brien 1952/1956
Most World titles: 3 Werner Günthör SUI 1987/1991/1993 and 3 John Godina USA 1995/1997/2001
Youngest Olympic/World champion: Ralph Rose 1904 (19) Oldest: Wladyslaw Komar POL 1972 (32)
Some all time greats
Parry O’Brien (USA): Winner of 116 consecutive contests between 1952 and 1956, this 10.8 100m man lifted two Olympic titles and was the first over 18m and 19m.
Randy Matson (USA): When becoming the first 70ft thrower with 21.52m he was nearly a metre ahead of the next best ever; he was Olympic champion in 1968.
Werner Günthör (SUI): A former 2m high jumper, he was world champion in 1987,1991 and 1993, and put the shot over 22m for five successive years.
John Godina (USA): Three time world champion, Olympic silver in 1996 and bronze 2000. World indoor champion in 2001, silver in 1999 and bronze 1997.
Is it for me?
Shot putters must be big, have strong arms and legs and natural speed. They must summon the dynamic power to propel a heavy, metal ball (7.26 kg for men, 4 kg for women) as far as possible. Performance improvement will depend on improving this strength by various means, particularly weight lifting.