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The discus throw is an athletics (track and field) throwing event. The discus, the object to be thrown, is a lens-shaped heavy disc with a diameter of 220 mm and a weight of two kilograms (4 lb 7 oz) for the men's event, and one kg (2 lb 3 oz) for the women's, with a smaller diameter of 182 mm. 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 women's disc. The discus usually has sides made of plastic, wood, or metal, with a metal rim and a metal core to attain the weight. Discuses with more weight in the rim produce greater angular momentum for any given spin rate, and thus more stability, although they are 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 with (due to the more equal distribution of weight, as opposed to the heavy rim weight of the metal rim/core discuses).

Discus throwing is an ancient sport. In the 5th century BC the sculptor Myron produced a statue of a discus thrower (Discobolus), which is world-famous today (although the technique obviously employed by that ancient thrower is no longer considered anywhere near optimal).

To make a throw, the competitor starts in a slightly recessed concrete-surfaced circle of 2.5 metres (8 feet 2½ inches) diameter. They typically wind up while facing away from the direction of the throw. The thrower then spins around one and a half times through the circle to build momentum. The discus must land within a 40-degree or 60-degree arc marked by lines on the landing zone, and the competitor must not exit the circle until the discus has landed, and must then only exit through the rear half of the circle. 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 between three and eight, is recorded, and the competitor who legally throws the discus the furthest 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 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's distance is also determined by the trajectory the thrower imparts, as well as the aerodynamic behaviour of the discus. 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 thirty years old or older.

World records

The discus throw world record for men is:

  • Jürgen Schult 74.08 m (243' 0.5") Neubrandenburg, GER (then GDR) June 6, 1986

And for women:

  • Gabriele Reinsch 76.80 m (251' 11.75") Neubrandenburg, GER (then GDR) July 9, 1988

The discus is one of the few sports events in which the world record has never been set during the Olympics.

Discus throwing in Greece

The sport has been familiar to Greeks since antiquity. It is mentioned in the Iliad as a sport that was included in the games held to honour the dead. It is also mentioned in the Odyssey as a sport that King Alkinoos organised to honour his guest Odysseus.

Discus throwing was included in the first Athens Olympiad of 1896. Greek athlete Panagiotis Paraskevopoulos won silver that year losing out to American Garrett.

Greek records

The current Greek records are held by Savvas Pavanoglou (63.18m) for the men's event (May 15, 2002) and Katerina Voggoli (67.72m) for the women's (June 10, 2004).

Male athletes

Female atheletes

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