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A shot put is a track and field athletic event in which the athlete throws or puts a metal weight called a shot. The shot may also be referred to as a shot put.
The shot put has ancient origins in strong man competitions, in which stones were originally thrown instead of metal balls. Events such as the stone put of the Scottish Highland games and the Steinstossen native to Switzerland are precursors of the shot put. Shot put was included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and has been an event in every Summer Olympic Games since then.
A shot put is performed inside of a 7-foot (2.14 meters) circle with a four-inch tall (10 cm) toe board at the front edge. Distance is measured from the inside of the circle's circumference to the closest disturbance of soil caused by the shot. The shot may be made of brass or any heavier metal, though brass and iron are most common. Regulation weights are 16 pounds (7.26 kilograms) for men and 8.8 pounds (4 kg) for women. Each competitor typically has six throws, and the best single throw is the winner.
The shot put athlete must step into the front half of the circle but must not leave the circle during the throw. The weight must be thrown from the shoulder and pushed off the fingertips, not thrown like a baseball. Using improper form is cause for disqualification.
There are two major techniques in shot put: the glide and the spin. In both techniques, the athlete begins facing the rear of the circle. In the glide, she leaps forward while turning and throwing the shot, "gliding" across the circle. In the spin, the thrower simply rotates while throwing, without his feet leaving the ground.
Shot put athletes have been successful using both techniques. The glide is usually mastered first and has more consistent results. However, most top male athletes favor the spin. The world record in outdoor shot put, a 75.85 feet, (23.12 m) throw by Randy Barnes in 1990, was made with the spin technique, but the runner up, a 75.65 feet (23.06 m) throw by Ulf Timmerman in 1988, used the glide.