Throwing events are amongst the oldest in track and field athletics. Where competitors once threw rocks and spears, they now use the shot and javelin. Throwing events require great strength and throwers are usually the biggest athletes in any athletic competition. There are four recognized throwing events in modern track and field athletics: the shot put, the discus, the javelin and the hammer.
The shot put has been an Olympic sport since 1896 and involves pushing or putting a heavy metal ball called a shot out of a 7-foot diameter concrete circle. The shot weighs 16 lbs. in men’s competitions and 8.8 lbs. for women. The two main methods used in shot put are the spin and the glide. Most top putters use the spin method. The men’s world record for the shot is 23 meters, 12 centimeters — or 75 feet and 10 inches, and is held by American Randy Barnes, as of 2010. The women’s world record of 22 meters, 63 centimeters — or 74 feet and 3 inches, is held by Natalya Lisovskaya of Russia.
Discus throwing has been a sport since ancient Greece circa 708 B.C. and consists of throwing a heavy circular disc as far as possible. Up until 1906, the discuss was thrown from an elevated pedestal but modern discuss throwers use a circle similar in size and design to shot putters. Discus throwing was featured in the first Olympics in 1896 and was one of the fist women’s Olympic events in 1928. Men throw a discuss weighing 4 lb., 7 oz. while women’s discus weighs 2 lb., 3 oz. Discus throwers use rotational throwing technique, which can see the discuss flying to distances as far as 250 feet.
Javelin throwing was once an integral part of ancient warfare and the farther a warrior could hurl a javelin, the greater his standing in the army. The first men’s Olympic javelin event was in 1908 and in 1932 for women. Originally made of wood, modern javelins are made of metal. Men’s javelins weigh 800 g and women’s javelins weigh 600 g. Javelins can be thrown huge distances and have had to be redesigned as athletes were generating throws in excess of the length of modern athletics stadium. Javelin throwing is the only track and field throwing event that allows a run up.
The hammer throwers of old used to throw blacksmiths hammers. The hammer used in modern competition does not really resemble a hammer and consists of a heavy metal ball and a long wire handle. The hammer is thrown from a 7-foot diameter concrete circle after the thrower has spun around three or four times. The hammer used in men’s competitions weighs 16 lbs. and the hammer used by women weighs 8.82 lbs. The men’s world record is held by Yuriy Sedykh and measures 86.76 meters, as of 2010. The women’s world record is 78.30 and is held by Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland.