An Illustrated History of Shot Put

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The early days of shot put

Ralph Rose warms up during the 1908 Olympics. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Various stone- or weight-throwing events date back more than 2000 years in the British Isles. The first known events resembling the modern shot put likely occurred in the Middle Ages when soldiers held competitions in which they hurled cannonballs. Shot put competitions were recorded in early 19th century Scotland and were a part of the British Amateur Championships beginning in 1866. Shot put was an original modern Olympic event, with American Robert Garrett winning at the Athens Games in 1896.

One of the great shot putters of the early Olympic Games, American Ralph Rose won gold medals in 1904 and 1908. He's shown here during the 1908 Games, in which he earned a gold medal.

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Shot putters improve

Leo Sexton follows through during the 1932 Olympic shot put competition. Imagno/Getty Images

Robert Garrett was the first modern Olympic shot put champion, in 1896, with a throw measuring 11.22 meters (36 feet, 9 1/2 inches). In 1932 Leo Sexton (above) reached the 16-meter (52-6) mark to take the gold during the first Games held in Los Angeles.

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Modern records

Randy Barnes competes in a 1990 meet. Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

American Randy Barnes set a world record with a toss measuring 23.12 meters (75 feet, 10 inches) in 1990. 

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Women's champions

Yanina Korolchik competes during her gold medal-winning effort at the 2000 Olympics. Michael Steele/Allsport

Women's shot put entered the Summer Olympics in 1948. Modern Olympic champs include 2000 gold medalist Yanina Korolchik of Belarus.

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Modern shot put

Christian Cantwell (right) and Reese Hoffa gave the U.S. a 1-2 finish at the 2004 World Indoor Championships. Michael Steele/Getty Images

Several Americans have been among the world's best shot putters of the 21st century, including 2004 World Indoor Championship gold medalist Christian Cantwell (right) and silver medalist Reese Hoffa.

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Gliding to victory

Tomasz Majewski celebrates his second consecutive Olympic gold medal, in 2012. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Despite the popularity of the rotational shot put technique among elite shot putters, Tomasz Majewski of Poland won consecutive Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012 by using the glide technique. 

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Shot put domination

Valerie Adams has earned shot put championships at the youth, junior and senior levels. Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Valerie Adams of New Zealand has been the dominant women's shot putter of the 21st century, winning ever major outdoor title from 2007-2013 (two Olympic gold medals and four World Championship titles), in addition to three World Indoor Championship gold medals.