Shot Put History – Where Did It Begin?


Shot put history can be found to stretch back thousands of years to the days before the British Isles became Christianized and the land was still governed by chieftains. In modern terms the sport was formalized and became an Olympic fixture in 1896.

Today the sport is done using a heavy metal ball and a special technique is perfected in order to be able to throw the ball as far as possible. In order to be truly successful at this event, the athlete needs to combine technique, form and strength.

Back thousands of years the event was done with stone balls in Scotland. Chieftains would use the event to determine which was the most powerful. They would select one of their warriors to throw the stone ball as far as possible and the winner would be considered to come from the most militarily powerful clan. The event has also become a part of the Highland Games.

The sport underwent changes throughout the Middle Ages through to the 18th century, when it was a popular sport among soldiers who would throw cannon balls. It is from this era of the sport that it gains its name with the “shot” referring to the cannon ball and the “put” part a style of throwing that was used.

Up until the modern Olympics was begun the sport was popular, but it was not formalized. As part of the track and field at the Olympics the sport was finally formalized. It would not become a women’s event at the games however until 1948.

The sport today has not changed too much throughout the shot put history. The balls are today made of lead and it tends to be the technique used that varies more. One of the best known shot put athletes was Randy Barnes who introduced the rotational form of throwing in 1976.

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