News08 Mar 2012

Hall of Fame Profile - Al Oerter (USA)


IAAF Hall of Fame - Al Oerter (USA) (© Getty images)

Discus thrower Oerter became the first man in the history of the Olympics to win four consecutive gold medals in the same event when he won at the 1968 Games in Mexico City, following on from his victories in 1956, 1960 and 1964.

However, each triumph had a different complexion to it.

In 1956, and aged just 20, little was expected of him but, inspired by the atmosphere, he produced a personal best and Olympic record of 58.36m in the first round and nobody could challenge that mark. He remains the youngest Olympic gold medallist in the event.

Four years later in Rome, he was the favourite but was under pressure after losing at the US Olympic Trials and in second place after four rounds. However, Oerter finally found his best form with his penultimate throw, which he tossed out to another personal best and Olympic record of 59.18m.

At the 1964 Olympics, Oerter had to wear a brace to help with a long-standing neck injury and was suffering from a torn rib cartilage. He also had to face the Czech thrower Ludovic Danek who had a 45-competition winning-streak prior to arriving in Tokyo.

Battling against the pain, Oerter sent the discus out to another Olympic record of 61.00m in the fifth round to secure his third win.

In Mexico City, Oerter shrugged off the distraction of his event being delayed by a downpour and threw yet another personal best and Olympic record of 64.78m to write his name in the history books.

Pages related to this article