Shot put isn't the most graceful of events - how graceful can anyone appear while hurling a small, dense, heavy (16 pounds for men, 8 pounds 13 ounces for women) metal ball? Yet technique is important and the event is often highly competitive. No man has repeated as Olympic champion since 1956 (American Parry O'Brien), no woman since 1964, when Tamara Press of the USSR prevailed. Press, who retired at age 30 in 1967 when gender testing began, reminds us that shot put has also endured its controversies - often speculative, sometimes factual - regarding the prevalence of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport.
About Olympic Shot Put:
Shot put rules are fairly uniform at every level. But it's also the rare track and field event with two distinct techniques, even at the highest levels. Some shot putters use the linear glide technique, moving in a straight line during their approach, while others use the newer spin technique, trying to gain momentum by spinning once before releasing the shot. Learn more about the sport of shot put in the following links.
Olympic Shot Put History:
Shot putting apparently developed from the exercise of stone throwing, but by 1896 athletes in the first modern Olympics were flinging a metal ball instead of a rock. Interestingly, stone throwing was an event at the mid-term, semi-official 1906 Games in Athens, where competitors threw a 14-pound stone. But shot put prevailed and stone-throwing disappeared. Here's a brief history of the shot put.
Action Image Gallery:
Standout shot putters spin and glide into action in the following gallery.
Take a look at the top 2012 Olympic shot put hopefuls, from the U.S. and around the world, then catch up with some familiar names from the past with these selections.