“In this, my life became the shot
put and a collection of those moments when the dream is at its most brilliant,
in that instant when you try to connect with heaven and nirvana and that deep
place within you where all of your motivations, desires and instincts reside,
that deep well of power we can all tap into if we focus long enough and hard
enough. That’s what I loved about throwing. That instant burst, like lightning.
The sudden release of all that pent-up energy and desire. And then, hopefully,
the thunder in the stands.”
When he competed, there was thunder in the stands, and thunder in the ring. Much as Parry O’Brien had done some 20 plus years before, Brian Oldfield would revolutionize the shot put. He not only took the event to new levels, but he put his own, unique trademark on it.
Coming out of Middle Tennessee State, he was a 1972 Olympian, with teammates like George Woods and Jay Silvester. But for Brian, his greatest moment would come later. A competitor in events like the highland games, and televisions “Superstars”, he made the decision after the 1972 Munich games to turn professional, and became a part of the ill-fated International Track Association. While the venture may have failed, it was certainly not due to Brian’s efforts.
He was the first man to crack the 72’, 73’, 74’ and 75’ barriers, distances that in the middle 1970’s were unheard of. But you won’t find his name in any “official” record books. While these show names like Baryshnikov, Timmerman and Andrei as eclipsing these milestones, it was Oldfield who didn’t just break them, he shattered them.
Always a colorful figure, both in and out of the ring, his rotational style was a dominant force in changing the landscape of shot putting forever. Although not the first to try is, he certainly was the first to make it work. His methods, shot putting with the Big O, would influence more than one generation of shot putter, and forever make him the icon of the rotational style.
Today, some 30 years later, his 75’ throw in May of 1975 is still among the 5 longest throws ever in the event. And it took 12 years for anyone else to “officially” break it.