Discus throw: Rules, regulations, records and all you need to know 

The discus throw is one of the four throwing events in track and field at the Olympics...
By Samrat Chakraborty

A brief history of discus throw

The discus throw, where a competitor hurls a heavy disc, was one of the events at the Ancient Olympics. It was introduced in the ancient Greek pentathlon event -- running, long jump, discus throw, javelin throw, and wrestling -- and can be dated back to 708 BC.

The discipline would be later re-discovered by Christian Georg Kohlrausch and his students in the 1870s. The men's discus throw event then became a part of the Olympics at the very first edition at Athens in 1986. The women's competition was included at Amsterdam 1928.

The discus throw is also part of the modern decathlon.

It should also be noted that Frantisek Janda-Suk, a Czech athlete, was the first modern athlete to throw the discus while rotating the whole body. The technique also helped him earn a silver medal at the 1900 Olympics in Paris.

What is the weight of the discus and how is it thrown?

The weight of the discus is fixed at 2kg for the men and 1kg for women. The metal disc is basically thrown by an athlete by standing inside a circle with a diameter of 2.5m.

Discus throwers are not allowed to touch the top of rim of the throwing circle, but can touch the inside edges of it. The athletes are also prohibited to touch the ground beyond the circle. And if the athlete crosses the circle before the disc lands on the ground then it is considered a foul throw.

There is also a particular boundary marked for landing the disc and if lands beyond then the throw is considered invalid. Each athlete is given eight attempts at the Olympics to mark their best possible throw.


Discus throw rules and scoring system at the Olympics

Athletes achieving the Olympic qualification mark represent the country at the Games. Each country is allowed to send three discus throwers at the event.

From the qualifying event, only 12 athletes with the best throws can proceed to the final. Every competitor is allowed three attempts to mark their best throw. Based on the initial three attempts, the top eight are allowed another three chances and their positions are decided based on the longest throw.

In case of a tie-breaker, the second-best throw, determines the winner.

The measurement is made from the first point where the discus breaks the ground to the inside of the arc of the throwing circle with a tape. The officials hold the tape in such a way that the zero end is at the point where the discus broke the field and then the measuring tape is drawn to the centre of the throwing circle. However, the distance is measured till the point where the tape crosses the inside edge of the circumference of the circle.

A discus thrower in action (Courtesy: IAAF/Twitter)

Specifications of a discus

The discus can be made of wood, plastic, fiberglass or metal with a circular edge and metallic rim. It should be 22cm in diameter for men and 18cm for women. The inner construction of the discus can either be solid or hollow while the cross section of the edge should have a radius of 6mm.

It should be also kept in mind that the sides of the discus are identical and free from any sharp edges without any irregularities in the design. The finishing of the disc should also be made smooth in order to help the athletes to grip it properly.

Specifications of the cage around the throwing circle

The construction of the cage around the throwing circle is done for the purpose of safety of the spectators from a misthrown discus. It should be made in such a way that it can withhold a disc of nearly 2kg coming at a speed of 25m/sec. It should also be made in a way that the discus doesn't rebound towards the athlete after hitting it.

The cage is made in 'U shape' and one side of it is open for the discus to pass. At the lowest point the height of the netting point should be 4m and synthetic or natural fibre is used.

What is the world record in discus throw?

1988 Olympic gold medallist Jurgen Schult holds the World Record for men with a throw of 74.08m, which he achieved in 1986. Gabriele Reinsch, who represented East Germany at the 1988 Olympics, holds the record for women with a throw of 76.80m.

Virgilijus Alekna, meanwhile, holds the Olympic men’s record with a throw of 69.89m achieved at Athens 2004. Martina Hellmann from Germany holds the women’s record with an effort of 72.30m at Seoul 1988.

Best discus throwers from India

Four-time Olympian Vikas Gowda is the most successful discus thrower from India. He qualified for the Olympics in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. He has also clinched two medals at the Asian Games, as many at the Commonwealth Games and five at the Asian Championships.

Veteran Indian discus thrower and 2014 Asian Games gold medallist Seema Punia is among the most accomplished female athletes in the discipline. The three-time Commonwealth Games silver medal-winner, however, failed to make a cut for Tokyo 2020.

Tokyo bound Kamalpreet Kaur, meanwhile, is on the rise. She became the first Indian woman to breach the 65m barrier in discus throw at the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships and also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with that effort.