Photo: NBC Olympics
The shot put is one of the purest Olympic events, a true test of sheer strength and agility that has been a mainstay since the 1896 Games in Athens. The only objective is to throw a 16-pound shot (the ball) as far as possible. An athlete must release the shot above the shoulder and keep it close to the neck throughout the release, and there are two dominant shot putting styles that have evolved over the years.
Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski, who took the gold medal this year with a throw of 21.89 meters, uses the “glide” technique.
With the glide, the athlete stands at the back of the circle with their back to the target, then takes a lunge and a 180-degree turn when throwing the shot. The glide is simpler to learn, but favours taller throwers at the elite level.
The more iconic shot put technique is the spin. Athletes gracefully rotate through the circle at a high speed while releasing the shot, transferring the energy generated into the throw.
The spin technique is more widely used today, especially by shorter competitors -- but the complexity of the motion compared to the glide leads to a higher risk of fouling (stepping out of the circle).
Here's American Reese Hoffa demonstrating the spin. Hoffa won a bronze medal earlier today with a throw of 21.23 meters.
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