Considered one of the purest Olympics events, the sport shot put is a litmus test of sheer strength and agility that has been a cornerstone of the first-ever modern Games in 1896 at Rome. The event was added to the women’s Olympic program in 1948. The main objective of shot put is to throw or put a heavy spherical object (the shot) as far as possible.
Shot put is a track and field sports event where the athlete must put a ball, usually made of iron and brass, as far as possible into a 40o sector ground as measured from the centre of the circle. The shot putter stands within a 7-feet (2.135m) diameter circle that has a curved 10 cm high toe-board in its front. Initially, the metal ball called as ‘shot’ is held with the base of the fingers- not the palm- and kept near the neck below the jaw. During the throw, the shot has to be held in one hand and it shouldn’t drop below or behind the athlete’s shoulder line. The nearest caused disturbance on the ground by the shot in the 40o sector is measured from the centre of the circle based on which the athletes score. The shot putter has to be within the circle until the shot touches the ground. The athlete’s feet shouldn’t touch the top of the toe-board. By taking turns, the shot putters get 6 attempts and the best distance is considered as the winning throw.
Over the years, two prominent styles of throwing the shot have evolved – gliding and spinning. In glide, the shot putter stands in the rear half of the circle with back facing the toe-board on the front. When putting the shot he/she bends forward and turns, while leaping towards the toe-board, but within the circle. Whereas in the spin technique, the shot putter simply spins within the circle in order to accelerate the throw.
The sport is believed have been originated out of the Celtic tradition of ‘putting the stones’, which was used by the clan chieftains to determine the strength of men for battle in Scotland. Later, the event was added to the Scotland Highland Games in which the shot putters used stones as shots. During the early events, the weight of the shot varied from 3.63 to 10.9 kg, but after this sport was added to Olympics in 1896, the weight of the shot was standardized to 7.26 kg for men. The shot put event was opened up for women’s participation only by 1948 Olympics, where the weight of the shot for women was decided to be 4 kg.
Although a lesser-known sport in India, it is gaining popularity with promising athletes like Om Prakash Karhana. It is easy to spot Om Prakash Karhana in a crowd…standing at 6 feet 7 inches and weighing 135 kg with a boyish disposition and an infectious energy. But what makes this titan from Gurgaon, Haryana stand out is his potential for the unexplored sport shot put that earned him a bronze medal in the 20th Asian Athletics Championships (2013) and a gold medal at the 6th Asian Indoor Athletics Championships (2014) among other accolades to his credit.
Know everything about shot put and this superlative Indian shot putter on Umeed India with our host Virender Sehwag as explores his life experiences, dedication and daily routine. Watch Umeed India