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Weight throw

An example of the large (56 lb) weight used in the weight throw event in Scottish Highland games

The weight throw is a family of throwing events within the field events of track and field, where the objective is to throw a heavy weight the longest distance or, less often, the greatest height.

It is not recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federations, but is held in Scotland at highland games, in Ireland, and elsewhere introduced by Irish or Scottish emigrants. In the United States, it is a winter indoor equivalent of the hammer throw, which cannot be held indoors due to space restrictions.


  • Weight throw for distance 1
    • International competition 1.1
    • Indoor event 1.2
    • Highland games 1.3
  • Weight throw for height 2
  • Ireland 3
  • References 4

Weight throw for distance

The 56-pound weight throw was conducted twice at the Olympic Games, in 1904 and in 1920.

International competition

The event, held outdoors and indoors, it is a World Championship and world record event in World Masters Athletics. Outdoors, it is also the final event of the Throws pentathlon. Masters athletics has different weight specifications for different age groups.[1]

Indoor event

The weight throw is an indoor track and field event, predominately in North America. The technique implemented to throw the weight is similar to that of the hammer throw in outdoor competition. In international competition, the men's weight is a 35 lb ball (25 for high school) with a D-ring or triangle handle attached directly to the weight. The technique in wide use is to start in a throwing circle with the thrower's back to the landing area. The weight is then swung overhead to gain momentum before transitioning into the spinning position. The thrower will turn heel to toe up to four times across the ring and toward the front of the circle. At the front of the circle, the thrower releases the weight over his/her shoulder and into the landing area. The landing area is a sector of 34.92° which is identical to the Hammer throw, Discus throw and Shot Put. Because of the demands of the landing area, USATF rules allow for the event as part of an indoor meet to be held outdoors. The world record for men is 25.41 m (outdoor) and 25.86 m (84'10") (indoor) and is held by American Lance Deal. For women, who throw a weight of 20 lb, the world record is 24.57 m (80'07½") (outdoor) set by Brittany Riley of Southern Illinois University on January 27, 2007 and 25.56 m (indoor), also by Riley, on March 10, 2007.

The weight throw event has had an enduring history in American track and field. It was a national championship event for men outdoors from 1878 to 1965.[2] Despite the decline of such outdoor contests in the United States, the event has been a mainstay of the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships: the men's 35 lb event has been held from 1932 to present and a women's 20 lb weight throw event was introduced in 1991.[3][4] The weight throw is also present on the event programme of the NCAA Men's and NCAA Women's Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Highland games

In the Highland Games, the weight throw consists of two separate events, the light weight and the heavy weight. In both cases, the implement consists of a steel or lead weight (usually spherical or cylindrical) attached by a short chain to a metal handle. The handle may be a d-ring, a triangle or a ring. The size of the weight depends on the class of the competition.

For advanced male athletes, the light weight is 28 lb, or two stones (12.7 kg). The heavy weight is 56 lb, or four stone (25.4 kg). For all female athletes, the weights are 14 and 28 lb (6.35 and 12.7 kg). For male master class or senior athletes, the weights are 28 and 42 lb (12.7 and 19.05 kg).

The weight is thrown one-handed from a rectangular (4.5 feet by 9 feet) area behind a toe board or trig. The athlete must stay behind the trig at all times during the throw. The techniques vary, but usually involve a turning or spinning motion to increase momentum before the release. Each athlete gets three attempts, with places determined by the best throw.

Weight throw for height

A man throwing a weight over a bar at the 2009 Highland Games

The weight over the bar, or weight throw for height, is contested at highland games in Scotland and elsewhere, and at track and field events in Ireland.

The weight is thrown one-handed over a bar set at increasing heights above the thrower. Similar to the high jump or pole vault, the thrower has three attempts for each successive height. Places are determined by maximum height reached with the fewest misses.

The size of the weight varies with the competition class. Advanced male athletes throw a 25 kg (56 lb. or four stone) weight, female athletes throw a 12 kg (28 lb.) weight and male master class or senior athletes throw a 19 kg (42 lb). weight. There are two techniques for this event. The classic technique swings the weight between the legs before pulling the weight up and directly overhead. The alternate technique (which is not allowed in some games) involves a spinning motion, with the athlete throwing from the side.


Athletics Ireland recognises the weight throw for height and distance.[5] The weight is 56 lbs at senior level, and 35 lbs in underage level.[5] It is mainly a men's event, though women's weight throw for distance is contested at university level.[5] The height event proceeds in a manner similar to the high jump and pole vault, with throwers required to clear a bar progressively raised. The Irish records are:[6]

  • height: 4.93 m (Gerry O’Connell, 1986)
  • distance: 9.16 m (John Menton, 1998)

In Ireland, a 56 lb weight is used for both height and distance weight throw events.[6]


  1. ^
  2. ^ USA Outdoor Track & Field Champions. USATF. Retrieved on 2012-08-23.
  3. ^ USA Indoor Track & Field Champions - Men's 35-lb. Weight Throw. USATF. Retrieved on 2012-08-23.
  4. ^ USA Indoor Track & Field Champions - Women's 20-lb. Weight Throw. USATF. Retrieved on 2012-08-23.
  5. ^ a b c "Competition Rule Book 2010 - 2012" (PDF). Athletics Ireland. 24 August 2011. pp. 12, 22, 33. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Men’s Senior Outdoor Records". Athletics Ireland AAI. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
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