• Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui wins the men's marathon athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships London 2017

Discus Throw

How it works

Athletes throw a metal disc weighing 2kg for men, 1kg for women, that is 22cm in diameter for men, and 18cm for women, as far as possible while remaining inside a 2.5m-diameter circle.

In order for the throw to be measured the discus must land inside a marked sector and the athlete must not leave the circle before it has landed, and then only from the rear half of the circle.

The thrower typically takes one-and-a-half spins before releasing the discus. Athletes will commonly throw four or six times per competition.  In the event of a tie, the winner will be the athlete with the next best effort.


Greek poet Homer made reference to the event in The Iliad’s description of the funeral games for Patroclus around 800BC. The discus was introduced as part of the pentathlon in the Ancient Olympics of 708BC (the first Olympics were held in 776BC). The enduring image of the Greek discus thrower comes from the iconic 5th century BC statue by the great sculptor Myron.

The men’s discus has been part of every modern Olympics. It was also one of the five disciplines contested when women’s athletics made its debut at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.

Did you know

Discus is the only track and field event in which a World record has never been set at an Olympic Games or IAAF World Championships.

Gold standard

American thrower Al Oerter is one of only two athletes to win the same individual event at four consecutive Olympic Games, from 1956 to 1968. Germany’s Lars Riedel won five times at the IAAF World Championships, from 1991 to 1997, and then again in 2001 after finishing third in 1999.

Belarus’ 2001 IAAF World Championships gold medallist Elena Zvereva is the oldest world champion, and medallist, in any discipline after winning her title at the age of 40 yeas and 268 days. She became the oldest competitor ever at the IAAF World Championships when she appeared at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin at nearly 49 years of age.