Amusing then amazing: American wins 1896 discus


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The following is an account of the 1896 Olympics by Thomas Pelham Curtis 94', MIT hurdler, who won the 110-meter hurdles that year. (As recorded in the July 24, 1924 issue of Technology Review)

"One of the most unexpected results occurred in the competition for throwing the discus. This form of athletic sport had been entirely confined to Greece from time immemorial, and no competitor from any
other land was familiar with the rules covering the competition or with the proper method of handling the discus itself.

"Robert Garrett, the Captain of the Princeton Team, a powerful, long-armed athlete, decided to enter this event purely for the fun of it. All other competitors were Greeks, and to see the discus thrown as they handled it was to see grace personified. We are all familiar with the statue of the Discobolus, and the Greek competitors carefully followed the position shown in that work of art. Not so with Garrett, however, who seized the discus in his right hand and swinging himself around and around, the way the 16-pound hammer is usually thrown in this country, threw the discus with tremendous force. His first two attempts, however, were laughable, as the discus, instead of sailing parallel to the ground, turned over and over and narrowly missed hitting some of the audience. Both foreigners and Americans laughed at his efforts, he, himself, joining in the general merriment.

"On his third and last throw, however, he succeeded in getting the discus away perfectly and, to the chagrin of the Greek champion who had made three perfect throws in the most graceful manner possible, it was found that Garrett's throw exceeded by some two feet the best throw of any other man. I think no one was more surprised than Robert Garrett himself."


Topics: Alumni/ae, Sports and fitness

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