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The discus throw is an event in track and field competition, 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 evidenced by the 5th century BC Myron statue, Discobolus. Although not part of the modern pentathlon, it was one of the events of the ancient pentathlon, which can be dated at least back to 708 BC.

The discus throw 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/object/gallery_uk.asp?ObjId=64 Discus Thrower stamps sold to help build facilities at the 1896 games] and the main posters for the 1920 and 1948 Summer Olympics.

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 discus, the object to be thrown, is a heavy lenticular disc with a weight of 2 kilograms (4 lb 7 oz) and diameter of 220 mm (8.66 inches) for the men's event, and a weight of 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) and diameter of 181 mm (7.17 inches) for the women's event. In U.S. high school track and field, boys typically throw a discus weighing 1.616 kg (3 lb 9 oz) and the girls throw the 1 kg (2.2 lb) women's discus. The discus can be thrown starting at age 11 (midget division). Most children throw the 1 kg discus. The discus usually has sides made of rubber, plastic, wood, or metal with a metal rim and a metal core to attain the weight. 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. A practice discus made of solid rubber is often used in High School; it is cheaper, more durable, 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).

To make a throw, the competitor starts in a slightly recessed concrete-surfaced circle of 2.5 meters (8 feet 2½ inches) diameter. The thrower typically takes an initial stance facing away from the direction of the throw. He then spins around one and a half times through the circle to build momentum, then releases his throw. The discus must land within a 35-degree arc marked by lines on the landing zone, and the competitor must not exit the circle until the discus has landed, then must wait for the judge to give clearance to exit the ring from the rear half. 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 centimeter or half-inch. 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, spinning clockwise when viewed above for a right-handed thrower, and vice-versa. 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 behaviour of the discus. Generally, throws into a moderate headwind achieve the maximum distance. Also, a faster-spinning discus imparts greater gyroscopic stability. <--- this="" may="" be="" true,="" but="" giving="" the="" discus="" more="" rotational="" kinetic="" energy="" is="" going="" to="" reduce="" translational="" (how="" far="" will="" go),="" so="" elite="" throwers="" use="" discs="" with="" high="" rim="" weight="" maximise="" distance="" thrown.="" The="" technique="" of="" throwing="" quite="" difficult="" master="" and="" needs="" lots="" experience="" get="" right,="" thus="" most="" top="" are="" thirty="" years="" old="" or="" more.=""></--->

Breaking Down the Throw

There are six keys movements of the discus throw: wind up, move in rhythm, balance, right leg engine, orbit, and delivery.The wind up is one of the most important aspects of the throw because it sets the tone for the entire throw. The wind up is both mental and technical. It is mental because the wind up sets you up for the rest of the throw. The following are the technical aspects: flat right foot, on the ball of your left foot, keep your weight evenly distributed between your feet, and do not over do it (being overly active can result in the waste of energy). Although the wind up sets the tone for the entire throw, the rhythm of the throw is the most important aspect. It is necessary to move in rhythm through out the entire throw. The best throwers contain the same amount of time in each phase while completing a great throw. 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.

Top Ten Performers

Accurate as of September 9, 2009.


Neubrandenburgmarker June 6, 1986
Kaunasmarker August 3, 2000
Helsingborg September 4, 2006
Szombathelymarker July 14, 2002
Wiesbadenmarker May 3, 1997
Eugenemarker June 4, 1983
San Josemarker June 9, 1984
Malmömarker November 15, 1984
San Josemarker May 25, 1985


Neubrandenburgmarker July 9, 1988
Nitramarker August 26, 1984
Neubrandenburgmarker July 23, 1989
Karl-Marx-Stadtmarker June 20, 1987
Bucharestmarker April 30, 1988
Praguemarker August 17, 1984
Donetskmarker September 8, 1984
Kazanlakmarker April 19, 1987
Berlinmarker July 20, 1984
Potsdammarker August 20, 1987

World Record Progress


New Yorkmarker 1912-05-27
Chicagomarker 1924-09-14
San Franciscomarker 1925-05-02
Palo Alto, Californiamarker 1926-04-02
Palo Alto, Californiamarker 1929-03-09
Palo Alto, Californiamarker 1930-05-17
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker 1930-08-23
Oslomarker 1934-08-25
Magdeburg, Germanymarker 1935-04-28
Palo Alto, Californiamarker 1941-06-20
Milanmarker 1941-10-26
Milanmarker 1946-04-14
Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker 1946-06-08
Milanmarker 1948-10-10
Lisbonmarker 1949-07-09
Hämeenlinna, Finlandmarker 1949-08-14
Lincoln, Nebraskamarker 1953-06-20
Pasadena, Californiamarker 1953-07-11
Pasadena, Californiamarker 1953-08-22
Warsawmarker 1959-06-14
Walnut, Californiamarker 1960-08-12
Frankfurtmarker 1961-08-11
Brusselsmarker 1961-08-20
Los Angelesmarker 1962-05-18
Leningradmarker, USSRmarker 1962-06-04
Chicagomarker 1962-07-01
Walnut, Californiamarker 1963-04-27
Walnut, Californiamarker 1964-04-25
Turnovmarker, Czechoslovakiamarker 1964-08-02
Sokolovmarker, Czechoslovakiamarker 1965-10-12
Modesto, Californiamarker 1968-05-25
Reno, Nevadamarker 1968-09-18
Stockholmmarker 1972-07-05
Stellenboschmarker, South Africa 1975-03-14
Long Beach, Californiamarker 1975-05-03
Walnut, Californiamarker 1976-04-24
San Jose, Californiamarker 1976-05-01
San Jose, Californiamarker 1976-05-01
San Jose, Californiamarker 1976-05-01
Berlinmarker 1978-08-09
Moscowmarker 1983-05-29
Neubrandenburgmarker, GDRmarker 1986-06-06


Parismarker 1924-07-14
Brusselsmarker 1924-07-21
Parismarker 1924-09-14
Praguemarker 1925-10-11
Warsawmarker 1926-05-23
Braunschweigmarker 1926-08-22
Warsawmarker 1927-09-04
Amsterdammarker 1928-07-31
Pabianicemarker 1932-05-15
Hagenmarker 1932-06-19
Lodzmarker 1932-06-19
Królewska Hutamarker 1933-07-15
Londonmarker 1934-08-11
Ulmmarker 1935-06-02
Nurembergmarker 1935-06-04
Nurembergmarker 1935-06-04
Munichmarker 1935-06-23
Munichmarker 1935-06-23
Jenamarker 1935-06-29
Jenamarker 1935-06-29
Dresdenmarker 1935-08-25
Munichmarker 1936-06-14
Dresdenmarker 1936-07-11
Moscowmarker 1948-08-08
Gori 1951-05-27
Odessamarker 1952-08-09
Tblisimarker 1952-10-18
Romemarker 1960-09-12
Moscowmarker 1961-07-15
Sofiamarker 1961-09-01
Londonmarker 1961-09-20
Moscowmarker 1963-05-19
Moscowmarker 1965-08-11
São Paulomarker 1967-11-05
Regis-Breitingenmarker 1968-05-26
Werdohlmarker 1968-08-24
Berlinmarker 1969-06-18
Hamburgmarker 1969-09-27
Helsinkimarker 1971-08-12
Munichmarker 1971-09-04
Moscowmarker 1972-05-31
Augsburgmarker 1972-06-24
Moscowmarker 1972-08-04
Bucharestmarker 1972-09-23
Rigamarker 1973-05-25
Moscowmarker 1973-07-11
Edinburghmarker 1973-09-07
Praguemarker 1974-05-27
Zurich 1975-08-20
Sochimarker 1976-04-24
Dresdenmarker 1978-08-12
Potsdammarker 1980-05-10
Sofiamarker 1980-07-15
Lessilidse 1983-05-23
Praguemarker 1984-08-17
Nitramarker 1984-08-26
Neubrandenburgmarker 1988-07-09

See also

  • 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.
  • National champions discus throw
  • National champions discus throw

External links


  1. Notations on the 1920 discus stamps at the Olympic Museum
  2. Main 1948 poster at the Olympics Museum
  3. - IAAF All-time top Discus throws URL last accessed on 2007-01-30

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