Died: April 21, 2007 (Ranch Belago, California)
Best Known as: gold medalist who revolutionized shot-putting
Three-time Olympic gold medalist who revolutionized shot-putting technique. He competed in shot-putting at the University of Southern California, but could not throw further than 55 feet. He experimented with lengthening the turn from 90 degrees to 180 degrees in 1951. His new style was successful, allowing him to break 17 world records in shot-put from 1953 to 1959. He was the first man to reach 59, 60, 61, 62, and 63 feet. In the 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games O’Brien won gold medals, and a silver medal in the 1960 Games. He won the Sullivan Award as the United States’ outstanding amateur athlete in 1959, and inducted to the United States Hall of Fame in 1984.
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