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Discus throw

The discus throw (  ) is a track and field event in which an athlete throws a heavy disc—called a discus—in an attempt to mark a farther distance than his or her competitors. It is an ancient sport, as demonstrated by the fifth-century-B.C. Myron statue, Discobolus. Although not part of the modern pentathlon, it was one of the events of the ancient Greek pentathlon, which can be dated back to at least to 708 BC.[1]


Modern copy of the Diskophoros, attributed to Alkamenes

Discus is a routine part of most modern track-and-field meets at all levels and is a sport which is particularly iconic of the Olympic Games. The men's competition has been a part of the modern Summer Olympic Games since the first Olympiad in 1896. Images of discus throwers figured prominently in advertising for early modern Games, such as fundraising stamps for the 1896 games and the main posters for the 1920 and 1948 Summer Olympics.

The discus was re-discovered in Christian Georg Kohlrausch and his students in the 1870s. His work around the discus and the earlier throwing techniques have been published since the 1880.

The first modern athlete to throw the discus while rotating the whole body was František Janda-Sukfrom Bohemia (present Czech Republic). He invented this technique when studying the position of the famous statue of Discobolus. After only one year of developing the technique he gained the olympic silver in 1900.

The women's competition was added to the Olympic program in the 1928 games, although they had been competing at some national and regional levels previously.


Discus-thrower, tondo of a kylix by the Kleomelos Painter, Louvre Museum

The discus, the object to be thrown, is a heavy lenticular disc with a weight of 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) and diameter of .219 m (0 ft 812 in) for the men's event, and a weight of 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) and diameter of .180 m (0 ft 7 in) for the women's program.

Under IAAF (international) rules, Youth boys (16–17 years) throw the 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb) discus, the Junior men (18–19 years) throw the unique 1.75 kilograms (3.9 lb) discus, and the girls/women of those ages throw the 1 kg discus.

In international competition, men throw the 2 kg discus through to age 49. The 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb) discus is thrown by ages 50–59, and men age 60 and beyond throw the 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) discus. Women throw the 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) discus through to age 74. Starting with age 75, women throw the .75 kilograms (1.7 lb) discus.

The typical discus has sides made of plastic, wood, fiberglass, carbon fiber or metal with a metal rim and a metal core to attain the weight. The rim must be smooth, with no roughness or finger holds. A discus with more weight in the rim produces greater angular momentum for any given spin rate, and thus more stability, although it is more difficult to throw. However, a higher rim weight, if thrown correctly, can lead to a farther throw. A solid rubber discus is sometimes used (see in the United States).

To make a throw, the competitor starts in a circle of 2.5 m (8 ft 214 in) diameter, which is recessed in a concrete pad by 20 mm. The thrower typically takes an initial stance facing away from the direction of the throw. He then spins anticlockwise (for right-handers) around one and a half times through the circle to build momentum, then releases his/her throw. The discus must land within a 34.92-degree sector. The rules of competition for discus are virtually identical to those of shot put, except that the circle is larger, a stop board is not used and there are no form rules concerning how the discus is to be thrown.

The distance from the front edge of the circle to where the discus has landed is measured, and distances are rounded down to the nearest centimetre. The competitor's best throw from the allocated number of throws, typically three to six, is recorded, and the competitor who legally throws the discus the farthest is declared the winner. Ties are broken by determining which thrower has the longer second-best throw.

The basic motion is a forehanded sidearm movement. The discus is spun off the index finger or the middle finger of the throwing hand. In flight the disc spins anticlockwise when viewed from above for a left-handed thrower, and clockwise for a righty. As well as achieving maximum momentum in the discus on throwing, the discus' distance is also determined by the trajectory the thrower imparts, as well as the aerodynamic behavior of the discus. Generally, throws into a moderate headwind achieve the maximum distance. Also, a faster-spinning discus imparts greater gyroscopic stability. The technique of discus throwing is quite difficult to master and needs lots of experience to get right, thus most top throwers are 30 years old or more.


The discus technique can be broken down into phases. The purpose is to transfer from the back to the front of the throwing circle while turning through one and half circles. The speed of delivery is high, and speed is built up during the throw (slow to fast). Correct technique involves the build up of torque so that maximum force can be applied to the discus on delivery.

Rutger Smith in phases of the discus throw

During the wind up, keep weight is evenly distributed between the feet, which are about shoulder distance and not overly active. The wind up sets the tone for the entire throw, the rhythm of the throw is very important.

Focusing on rhythm can bring about the consistency to get in the right positions that many throwers lack. Executing a sound discus throw with solid technique requires perfect balance. This is due to the throw being a linear movement combined with a one and a half rotation and an implement at the end of one arm. Thus, a good discus thrower needs to maintain balance within the circle.

For a right handed thrower, the next stage is to move the weight over the left foot. From this position the right foot is raised, and the athlete 'runs' across the circle. There are various techniques for this stage where the leg swings out to a small or great extent, some athletes turn on their left heel (e.g. Ilke Wylluda[2]) but turning on the ball of the foot is far more common.

The aim is to land in the 'power position', the right foot should be in the center and the heel should not touch the ground at any point. The left foot should land very quickly after the right. Weight should be mostly over the back foot with as much torque as possible in the body - so the right arm is high and far back - this is very hard to achieve. power position

The critical stage is the delivery of the discus, from this 'power position' the hips drive through hard, and will be facing the direction of the throw on delivery. Athletes employ various techniques to control the end-point and recover from the throw, such as fixing feet (to pretty much stop dead[3]), or an active reverse spinning onto the left foot (e.g. Virgilijus Alekna[4]).


The discus throw is the subject of a number of well-known ancient Greek statues and Roman copies such as the Discobolus and Discophoros.

Discus throwers have been selected as a main motif in numerous collectors' coins. One of the recent samples is the €10 Greek Discus commemorative coin, minted in 2003 to commemorate the 2004 Summer Olympics. On the obverse of the coin a modern athlete is seen in the foreground in a half-turned position, while in the background an ancient discus thrower has been captured in a lively bending motion, with the discus high above his head, creating a vivid representation of the sport.

United States

In U.S. high school track and field, boys typically throw a discus weighing 1.6 kg (3 lb 9 oz) and the girls throw the 1 kg (2.2 lb) women's discus. Under USATF Youth rules, boys throw the 1 kg discus between the ages of 11-14, and transition to the 1.6 kg discus as 15- to 18-year-olds. Girls throw the 1 kg discus as 11- to 18-year-olds.

Under US high school rules, if a discus hits the surrounding safety cage and is deflected into the sector, it is ruled a foul. In contrast, under IAAF, WMA, NCAA and USATF rules, it is ruled a legal throw. Additionally, under US high school rules, distances thrown are rounded down to the nearest whole inch, rather than the nearest centimetre.

US high school rules allow the use of a solid rubber discus; it is cheaper and easier to learn to throw (due to its more equal distribution of weight, as opposed to the heavy rim weight of the metal rim/core discus), but less durable.

Top 25 performers

Gerd Kanter in Osaka

Accurate as of June 2015.[5][6]


Rank Mark Athlete Venue Date
1 74.08 m (243 ft 012 in)  Jürgen Schult (GDR) Neubrandenburg 6 June 1986
2 73.88 m (242 ft 412 in)  Virgilijus Alekna (LTU) Kaunas 3 August 2000
3 73.38 m (240 ft 834 in) Helsingborg 4 September 2006
4 71.86 m (235 ft 9 in) Moscow 29 May 1983
5 71.84 m (235 ft 814 in) Hengelo 8 June 2013
6 71.70 m (235 ft 234 in) Szombathely 14 July 2002
7 71.50 m (234 ft 634 in) Wiesbaden 3 May 1997
8 71.32 m (233 ft 1134 in) Eugene 4 June 1983
9= 71.26 m (233 ft 912 in) San Jose 9 June 1984
9= 71.26 m (233 ft 912 in) Malmö 15 November 1984
9= 71.26 m (233 ft 912 in) San Jose, CA 25 May 1985
12 71.18 m (233 ft 614 in) San Jose 19 July 1983
13 71.16 m (233 ft 512 in) Berlin 9 August 1978
14 71.14 m (233 ft 434 in) Salinas 22 May 1996
15 71.06 m (233 ft 112 in) Havana 21 May 1983
16 70.98 m (232 ft 1014 in) Helsinki 9 July 1980
17 70.82 m (232 ft 4 in) Denton 15 April 2006
18 70.66 m (231 ft 934 in) Turnov 22 May 2012
19 70.54 m (231 ft 5 in) Krasnodar 7 May 2002
20 70.38 m (230 ft 1034 in) Lancaster 16 May 1971
21 70.32 m (230 ft 812 in) Salon-de-Provence 26 May 2002
22 70.06 m (229 ft 1014 in) Smalininkai 8 May 1988
23 70.00 m (229 ft 734 in) Havana 21 May 1983
24 69.95 m (229 ft 534 in) Salon-de-Provence 25 May 2006
25 69.91 m (229 ft 414 in) Salinas 19 May 1998


Rank Mark Athlete Venue Date Ref
1 76.80 m (251 ft 1112 in) Neubrandenburg July 9, 1988
2 74.56 m (244 ft 714 in) Nitra August 26, 1984
74.56 m (244 ft 714 in) Neubrandenburg July 23, 1989
4 74.08 m (243 ft 012 in) Karl-Marx-Stadt June 20, 1987
5 73.84 m (242 ft 3 in) Bucharest April 30, 1988
6 73.36 m (240 ft 8 in) Prague August 17, 1984
7 73.28 m (240 ft 5 in) Donetsk September 8, 1984
8 73.22 m (240 ft 212 in) Kazanlak April 19, 1987
9 73.10 m (239 ft 934 in) Berlin July 20, 1984
10 72.92 m (239 ft 234 in) Potsdam August 20, 1987
11 72.14 m (236 ft 8 in) Prague August 17, 1984
12 71.80 m (235 ft 634 in) Sofia July 13, 1980
13 71.68 m (235 ft 2 in) Beijing March 14, 1992
14 71.58 m (234 ft 10 in) Leningrad June 12, 1988
15 71.50 m (234 ft 634 in) Potsdam May 10, 1980
16 71.30 m (233 ft 11 in) Sochi May 29, 1992
17 71.22 m (233 ft 734 in) Walnut July 15, 1984
18 71.08 m (233 ft 214 in) Zurich August 16, 2014
19 70.88 m (232 ft 612 in) Havana May 8, 1992
20 70.80 m (232 ft 314 in) Kharkov June 18, 1988
21 70.68 m (231 ft 1012 in) Sevilla July 18, 1992
22 70.65 m (231 ft 914 in) Bilbao 20 June 2015 [7]
23 70.50 m (231 ft 312 in) Sochi April 24, 1976
24 70.34 m (230 ft 914 in) Athens May 16, 1988
25 70.02 m (229 ft 812 in) Thessaloniki June 23, 1999

Olympic medalists



Games Gold Silver Bronze
1928 Amsterdam
1932 Los Angeles
1936 Berlin
1948 London
1952 Helsinki
1956 Melbourne
1960 Rome
1964 Tokyo
1968 Mexico City
1972 Munich
1976 Montreal
1980 Moscow
1984 Los Angeles
1988 Seoul
1992 Barcelona
1996 Atlanta
2000 Sydney
2004 Athens
2008 Beijing
2012 London

World Championships medalists


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1983 Helsinki
1987 Rome
1991 Tokyo
1993 Stuttgart
1995 Gothenburg
1997 Athens
1999 Seville
2001 Edmonton
2003 Saint-Denis
2005 Helsinki
2007 Osaka
2009 Berlin
2011 Daegu
2013 Moscow
2015 Beijing


Games Gold Silver Bronze
1983 Helsinki
1987 Rome
1991 Tokyo
1993 Stuttgart
1995 Gothenburg
1997 Athens
1999 Seville
2001 Edmonton
2003 Saint-Denis
2005 Helsinki
2007 Osaka
2009 Berlin
2011 Daegu
2013 Moscow
2015 Beijing

Season's bests

As of June 21, 2015

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Notations on the 1920 discus stamps at the Olympic Museum
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Discus Throw - men - senior - outdoor. IAAF. Retrieved on 2014-01-20.
  6. ^ Discus Throw - women - senior - outdoor. IAAF. Retrieved on 2014-01-20.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Day 2 of IOC Executive Board meeting in St. Petersburg . Olympic (2013-05-30). Retrieved on 2014-04-19.

External links

  • World Record
  • Discus History
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