By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent
The discus throw is one of the classic events of the Olympic Games – and will never be in danger of being dropped from the schedule.
The men’s discus throw is one of the iconic events contested at every edition of the modern Olympic Games since 1896.
However, discus throwing existed for hundreds of years before the inception of the Games, making it one of the oldest sports you will see on display in London this summer.
There is one simple aim in a discus competition – throw further than anyone else. Competitors throw from an enclosed circle, and face away from the direction they shoot before building up speed and power by swinging the holding arm before turning. If performed correctly, the discus will soar through the air after release.
Whilst the objective of discus is straight forward, perfecting the technique takes a lot of hard work and practice.
At London 2012, the women’s competition runs from the 3-4 August with the men following on 6-7 in the Olympic Stadium.
Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania holds the Olympic record, which was set somewhat fittingly at the Athens Games in 2004. His throw of 69.89m, whilst short of the World Record, remains the benchmark for competitors stepping into the Olympic Arena this summer.
Unusually, the women’s record is bigger than the men’s. Martina Hellman of East Germany’s mammoth throw of 72.30m way back at Seoul 1988 remains unbeaten nearly 25 years later.
Currently, Great Britain have never medalled in the discus at the Olympics. Should he qualify, Brett Morse is hoping to change that.
“I’ve always been competitive – it’s good fun proving yourself against others. I got into discus through a school sports day – before I’d always played rugby and football,” he said.
“I won – and went on to represent the county and then Wales. My Mum pushed me into it really! She told me that if I could represent the country with no training, I could take it even further.”
Mrs Morse was right – since starting his training full time, he has represented Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships, reaching the British number one spot.
He believes Team GB’s potential for London 2012 is promising – and competition between the athletes is fuelling that.
Lawrence Okoye currently holds the British record after throwing 67.63m last July and he is also gunning for London 2012.
“The standard has increased all of a sudden over the past couple of years – there was four of us at the Worlds, and then Lawrence broke the record,” Brett said.
“Our main focus is the Olympic team. We are all training very hard. I’m disappointed it wasn’t me who broke the record, but hopefully I can put that right this year.”
Fancy giving discus a try? The Manchester Regional Arena at SportCity has specially designed nets for discus throwing and complete amateurs are welcome.
Details can be found on www.manchesterregionalarena.co.uk or by phoning 0161 220 3800.
Follow Steven Oldham on Twitter – @spoldham