Olympic Shot Put Rules

Athlete holding shot put, only arm visible
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Like many other modern Olympic events, the shot put was not a part of the original, ancient Greek Olympic games. One theory of its modern origins is that it began as a Celtic sport designed to identify the strongest warriors. The shot put event for men has been a part of the modern Olympics from its beginnings in 1896 while the shot put for women was introduced in 1948. 

The Shot

The men’s shot is a 7.26-kilogram spherical ball. The diameter is between 110-130 millimeters. The women’s shot, also a spherical ball, weighs 4 kilograms with a diameter of 95-110 millimeters.  Although iron and brass are commonly used, within the specified size and weight constraints, any substance may be used so long as it is at least as hard as brass.

The Shot Put Circle Rim and Toe Board

The shot put circle rim is 2.135 meters (7 feet) in diameter. It is normally about 3/4" high and 1/4" thick and is constructed of four metal arcs that connect to make the circle.  The shot put toe board (or "stop board") is 10 centimeters high and measures 1.21 meters in length by 0.112 meters in width.

An arc extending along the length of the board and with the same radius as the shot put circle is removed from the toe board to create a space that fits snugly against the shot put circle rim. In high-school and college competitions, metal -- often aluminum -- toe boards are often used; in the Olympics, however, the toe board must be made of wood and painted white. 

The Shot Put Rules

The object of the competition is to put -- which is a push, more than a throw -- the ball as far as possible. There are, however, several technical requirements that make this a little harder than it might seem. 

First, once the putter's name is called, the putter has only 60 seconds to enter the circle and complete the throw. Although competitors may touch the inside of the circle's rim or stop board in the process of the put, they may not touch the upper service of either the rim or the toe board. The shot putter cannot touch the ground outside the throwing circle during an attempt, nor can the putter leave the circle until the shot hits the ground. This particular requirement is a little harder to fulfill without faulting when the putter's technique is based on the spin, one of two shot put techniques commonly used, because, as the name implies, the putter executives a rapid spin in the process of accelerating across the circle; the putter may then inadvertently step outside the circle to try to regain his balance. 

The shot is put with one hand only, must be in the athlete's shoulder at the beginning of the put and thereafter must not drop below the athlete's shoulder before the shot is released. The throw must end within a designated landing area formed by a 35-degree sector formed by two radii of a circle with its center coincident with the center of the shot put circle. 

The Competition

Twelve competitors qualify for the Olympic shot put final. Results from the qualification rounds do not carry over into the final.

As in all Olympic throwing events, the 12 finalists have three attempts each, after which the top eight competitors receive three more attempts. The longest single put during the final wins. In event that two competitors have identical longest throws, the putter whose second-best throw is longer wins.

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