Discus throw, sport in athletics (track and field) in which a disk-shaped object, known as a discus, is thrown for distance. In modern competition the discus must be thrown from a circle 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) in diameter and fall within a 40° sector marked on the ground from the centre of the circle.
The sport was known in the days of the Greek poet Homer, who mentions it in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, and it was one of five events included in the pentathlon in the ancient Olympic Games. Throwing the discus was introduced as an event in modern athletics when the Olympic Games were revived at Athens in 1896.
Early modern athletes threw the discus from an inclined pedestal, using an exaggerated style derived from ancient representations of the sport. Throwing from a 2.13-metre (7-foot) circle on the ground superseded this, and the circle was enlarged to its present size in 1912.
The modern throwing style is a graceful whirling movement, with the athlete making about one and a half quick turns while accelerating across the circle. Thus, the discus is slung out and not really thrown at all; the difficulty lies in controlling the discus, which is held under and against the hand and wrist chiefly by centrifugal force.
The modern discus used in men’s competition is circular, about 219 mm (8.6 inches) in diameter and 44 mm (1.75 inches) thick at its centre. It is made of wood or similar material, with a smooth metal rim and small, circular brass plates set flush into its sides. Its weight must be not less than 2 kg (4.4 pounds).
A discus event was included when women’s track and field was added to the Olympic program in 1928. A slightly smaller discus weighing 1 kg (2 pounds 3.2 ounces) and 180 mm (7.1 inches) is used in women’s events.
Notable discus throwers include American Al Oerter, who first broke the 200-foot mark; American Mac Wilkins, who was first to break officially the 70-metre (230-foot) mark; German Jürgen Schult, who broke the world’s record for discus throw in 1986 with a 74.08-metre (243.04-foot) throw; German Lisel Westermann, the first woman to break the 200-foot mark; and Russian Faina Melnik, who broke the 70-metre mark in women’s competition.
"Discus thrower" and "Discus" redirect here. For the statue, see Discobolus. For other uses, see Discus (disambiguation).
The discus throw ( pronunciation) is a track and field event in which an athlete throws a heavy frisbee—called a discus—in an attempt to mark a farther distance than their competitors. It is an ancient sport, as demonstrated by the fifth-century-BC 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.
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 Olympic games 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 Magdeburg, Germany, by 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-Suk from 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.
The men's discus is a heavy lenticulardisc with a weight of 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) and diameter of 22 centimetres (8.7 in), the women's discus has a weight of 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) and diameter of 18 centimetres (7.1 in).
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 kilogram (2.2 lb) 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 0.75 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 21⁄4 in) diameter, which is recessed in a concrete pad by 20 millimetres (0.79 in). 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 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 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 clockwise when viewed from above for a right-handed thrower, and anticlockwise for a left-handed thrower. 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 a half circles. The speed of delivery is high, and speed is built up during the throw (slow to fast). Correct technique involves the buildup of torque so that maximum force can be applied to the discus on delivery.
During the wind-up, 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) 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), or an active reverse spinning onto the left foot (e.g. Virgilijus Alekna).
Sports scientist Richard Ganslen researched the Aerodynamics of the Discus, reporting the discus will stall at an angle of 29°.
The discus throw has been the subject of a number of well-known ancient Greek statues and Roman copies such as the Discobolus and Discophoros. The discus throw also appears repeatedly in ancient Greek mythology, featured as a means of manslaughter in the cases of Hyacinth, Crocus, Phocus, and Acrisius, and as a named event in the funeral games of Patroclus.
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.
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
See also: Men's discus throw world record progression and Women's discus throw world record progression
- Correct as of July 2017.
- Ben Plucknett also threw a world record of 72.34 on 7 July 1981 in Stockholm, but this performance was annulled due to doping offense.
- Rickard Bruch also threw 72.18 on 23 July 1974 at an exhibition meeting in Piteå.
- John Powell also threw 72.08 on 11 September 1987 in Klagshamn, but the throw was made onto a sloping/downhill sector.
- Kamy Keshmiri threw 70.84 on 27 May 1992 in Salinas, but this performance was annulled due to doping offense.
Below is a list of throws equal or superior to 72.94m: