The Rio Olympics Men’s Discus Throw

The Rio Olympics Men’s Discus Throw

The Rio Olympic Athletics Stadium

Oly Stadium walkthruMy Two Throwers – Ryan Crouser shot put (left)  – me (straw hat) –  Andrew Evans discus (right)

Wednesday, Aug. 10th, the competition stadium was opened to the athletes and coaches for a “walk through”. For the throwers this meant getting in the circle and taking spins (without an implement) to get familiar with the cement and friction and the sightlines while turning. Important tactile and visual input before the competition. This wasn’t available in my day.

Our Perfect Last Training Session
(In the Rain, Not What We Wanted)
With the stadium walkthrough Wednesday morning, the afternoon was setup for Andrew’s last throwing workout before the competition. Of course, for confidence this should be a good workout with good form and reasonably long throws.

Wednesday afternoon it was raining. It rained throughout the training session.
Not what we wanted.

It turned out to be a blessing.

The wet surface of the circle provided just enough uncertainty to cause the thrower to start just a little slower than normal. This was perfect as the tendency is to start too fast and disrupt ever so slightly the timing and leverage. The result was good throws technically with acceptable distance. It was a big confidence boost to “overcome” the weather and have a good workout.

The ability to overcome unexpected obstacles and reach your goal is a major skill of successful performers.

Friday’s Qualifying Round
Friday morning, August 12th were the two qualifying rounds of the men’s discus. A 5:00am wake up was required to depart the Village on a 6:15-6:30am bus to get to the stadium in time for warm up and check in for the 9:30 qualifying round. Everyone gets three throws. To qualify for the Final you must throw over the Automatic Qualifying Line of 65.50m about 214′ 10.75″ or make the Top 12. Although many have done this during the season, its difficult to make the mark early in the morning.

In spite of rain at the start of the qualifying Andrew competed well finishing 16th out of 35. Of course we wanted more, and a mark to make the Final 12. But the path forward has become more clear for Andrew’s development. He has seen that he can compete on the Olympic stage.

Mason Finley made the Final and finished 11th on Saturday. Mason is the first US male to make an Olympic Final in 12 years.
Saturday’s Discus Final
Long Drive, In your spandex, starting backward, spinning around and yelling
After Friday’s rain, Saturday morning was warm and sunny. Just what a thrower would ask for.

The favorite, Piotr Malachowski entered with a series of second place Championship finishes to the German Robert Harting. Two Germans and an Estonian were expected to chase for the silver and bronze medals. Harting was not in top form after a season of recovery from surgery and failed to make the final. Malachowski came out strong in the Final opening with three throws over 220″ with the best at 221′ 7″.

The discus is like a Long Drive Contest in golf. If you have swung a golf club you know the difficulty in creating maximum clubhead speed. It turns out the harder you try, the shorter the drive. Discus throwing is the same. Relaxed rhythmic effort is required for the longest throws. Rhythm, not maximal muscular contraction is the key to success. Finding this relaxed rhythm under the pressure of competition is what makes the event so subtly challenging and complex. Its a mental game. Its a game of nerves. Everyone is strong enough muscularly. the difference maker is the strength of the mind, can you find “the zone” on command?

Back to our final…
The ultimate pressure in this game of nerves is the last throw. After five attempts can you improve and make your best effort of the competition on your last try?

Saturday four of the top eight pulled this magic out of their hats.
The first thrower of the last round was from Austria with a HUGE jump moving from 8th place at just over 204′ to 5th place at 213′.

The fourth throw in the round was from Kupper of Estonia. He was in 6th place at 211′ 6″ and moved to second place and the Silver Medal at 218′ 5″.

Kovago and Kanter did not improve.

And then came the final three throwers of the competition.
Daniel Jasinski of Germany, just bumped to fourth by Kupper, unleashed his best of the day, 219′ 11″ to move into second and the Silver Medal. Kupper dropped to Bronze and countryman Harting dropped to fourth.

But only momentarily for Harting as he followed Jasinski into the circle as the second to last thrower of the competition. The younger brother of the defending Champion, Christoph slung a life record of 68.37m, 224′ 4″, to knock Malachowski out of first. Kupper who moments ago had the Silver now was in fourth with no medal!

And then the favorite walked into the circle. Now in second place, now with only one throw left, the last throw of the competition to save his Gold that had been in his hands since his first throw. Although he had the second, third and fourth longest throws of the competition and the best average of the competition he could not pull it off on his last effort. He did not have the single longest throw of the competition and did not win the Olympic Gold Medal.

Christoph Harting the 6′ 10″ younger brother of Robert Harting kept the Olympic Crown in the family.

Wow, last throw heroics.
Last throw nerves.
The Champion threw a Life Record on his last throw.
The ultimate performance for a thrower no matter what level.
A first class competition.
Men’s Shot Put
One Day – Qualifying in the Morning Finals at Night
Thursday the 18th is the Men’s Shot Put. Qualifying is in the morning with Finals that night. Pity the poor putters who ride the bus 45 minutes back to the Village after the morning session for lunch and a four hour rest before getting back on the bus to return to the Stadium for the Finals that night. It could mean a 5:00am wake up, over two hours riding the bus for an 8:30pm Final! The best alternative is a hotel nearby for a short car ride and a quiet room for food and sleep. You need forethought and money to achieve this.

The Three Americans, Joe Kovacs, the World Champion, Ryan Crouser, US Champion, and Darrell Hill are in top form this week. World Champion, Joe is the favorite in what is expected to be a great competition.

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