Houser throws his weight around to seal double gold

There are some landmarks in the Olympic annals that the passage of time and the development of sport render a repeat almost unthinkable.  

Picture by 1924 IOC

One such feat was performed by American throwing legend Bud Houser at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris.

He was the last man to win gold in the discus and shot and, given the now refined techniques of both power-throwing events, it is difficult to picture the achievement being emulated in the modern era.

He was very much an innovator, however, and took many of the throwing records of the time to new levels.

Houser pioneered the rotation-style throw now used universally in the discus and he was also the first to see the benefits of the explosive, staccato throwing style in the shot.

He went to Paris a warm favourite.

First he produced an imperious performance in the discus, winning the event by almost four feet (1.32 metres) with an Olympic record throw of 151ft 4ins (46m) which he recorded in the qualifying rounds.

1924 IOC

It was a victory for the USA which would be repeated in eight out of the next nine Olympic discus finals, rounded off by Al Oerter’s record fourth straight win completed at Mexico City in 1968.

Five days later came the shot put final and a much tighter contest developed.

Houser again threw an imposing leading effort in the qualifying round of 49 feet 2.25 ins and he failed to improve on that in the final.

Two American colleagues – Samuel Glenn “Tiny” Hartranft and Ralph Hills – sent out throws tantalisingly close to that of Houser’s but it was not to be and Houser’s place in the record books was confirmed.