How Much Should A Man 6 Foot 4 Inches Weight Parry O’Brien – Shot Put Champion

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Parry O’Brien – Shot Put Champion

The year was 1951. At three o’clock in the morning, under the dim illumination of streetlights in a vacant lot next door, a young man of nineteen stood looking at the sixteen-pound shot in his hand. This iron ball was his barrier, his Everest, his four-minute mile. Despite his copybook style and powerful arms, he just couldn’t put it past 55 feet.

That night he decided to explore the laws of physics. If he could only use his strength on the shot for a longer time, then it would probably go longer. No rules specified which direction a putter should face when starting to putt or the action of his legs. The only rule he had to observe was that the shot should not be thrown with only one hand.

O’Brien surveyed the 7-foot circle from all angles, then stood at the very back — not facing the throwing quadrant as he had done earlier, but in the opposite direction. This meant that the shot resting on his right shoulder had to travel a full 180E before he fired it, instead of the standard 90E that shot putters normally used.

He sank low with his weight on his right leg, the impact of the bullet resting under his chin. He then performed a long backward jump while simultaneously spinning his torso a full 180E. When he finally released the shot, O’Brien could feel the added momentum behind it.

In the days and months that followed, while attending the University of Southern California, O’Brien refined and perfected his technique. He studied yoga (“digging deep into what you might call an inner reserve of strength,” he explained), as well as aerodynamics, religions and, of course, physics—anything that might be the key to greater distance. He became one of the first athletes to lift weights on a regular basis, bulking up to 240 pounds at his peak with a height of 6’3″.

His pioneering style became known as the “O’Brien Glide” and it quickly brought him to the front ranks of the sport. In 1953 he set a new world record of 59 feet 3/4 inches. In 1954, significantly just two days after British runner Roger Bannister became the first person to break the four-minute mile, Parry O’Brien became the first shot putter to exceed 60 feet.

He broke the world record 17 times in his career, eventually raising it to 63 feet 3 inches. On December 3, 1956, he was famous enough to grace the cover of TIME magazine. In the accompanying interview, he says, “My style is geared to allow me to apply power for the longest time before I release the shot.”

At the height of his career, O’Brien was unbeaten in 116 consecutive meetings. He won Olympic gold medals in 1952 and 1956, a silver in 1960, finished fourth in 1964 and retired from competition in 1966 at the age of 34. By then his style had been widely adopted.

O’Brien’s training was legendary. He did 150 exercises a day and is quoted as saying, “I won’t stop until my hands bleed, and that’s God’s truth.” Before a competition, to psyche himself up, he would play tapes he had made to remind himself of the finer points of form and style. Rumor has it that the tapes always ended with the cry, “And beat them! Beat them all!”

On April 21, at the age of 75, Parry O’Brien died of a heart attack during a 500-yard Masters freestyle race in California. “He was on lap 11 getting ready to switch and he stayed at the wall,” said his wife Terry. O’Brien had taken up swimming in the 1990s when his joints became too painful for shot put.

We think of a champion as one who stands first in his events. For many years Parry O’Brien embodied this ideal of a champion. But in the later years of his life, Parry O’Brien showed the world another aspect of a true master. As the philosopher Sri Chinmoy has written:

“A great champion is he who, owing to the progress of years, retires from racing, or ends his career happily and cheerfully.

“A great champion is one who longs to see the fulfillment of his dreams – if not through himself, then in and through others.”

Parry O’Brien was the grand master.

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