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Al Oerter

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 4
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 4
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameAlfred Adolph "Al"•Oerter, Jr.
Used nameAl•Oerter
Born19 September 1936 in Astoria, New York (USA)
Died1 October 2007 in Fort Myers, Florida (USA)
Measurements192 cm / 125 kg
AffiliationsNYAC, New York (USA)
NOC United States

Biography

With four successive victories in one event, Al Oerter stands among the top of any pantheon of Olympic history. A superb competitor in major meets, he did not set his first world record until 1962, when he became the first man to throw beyond 200 feet with 200-5½ (61.10). He posted three more world records, but it was competition, not records, that motivated Al Oerter. He won the AAU title six times (1957, 1959-60, 1962, 1964, 1966), was NCAA champion in 1957, sharing that title in 1958, and won the Pan American Games in 1959.

Oerter was favored only going into his 1960 Olympic victory, and he was never the world record holder going into the meet, nor did he ever win the U.S. Olympic Trials, but such was his competitive greatness that at three of the four meets he responded with the longest throw of his career to win the gold. He walked out of the record books into legend at Tokyo in 1964 when he threw with torn rib muscles and a pinched cervical nerve that required a neck brace. On his fifth throw, he almost had to be carried from the field because of the pain, but that throw gave him the gold medal.

Oerter retired at the end of the 1969 season, but he made a comeback in 1977 and the following year set a personal best of 221-4 (67.46). Incredibly, in 1980 he placed fourth at the Olympic Trials, having earlier in the season, at the age of 43, raised his career best to 227-11 (69.47). Oerter was a systems analyst and computer engineer for an electronics firm on Long Island, and after graduation from the University of Kansas, he competed for the New York AC.

Personal Bests: SP – 57-0i (17.37) (1958); DT – 227-11 (69.47) (1980).

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1956 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Al Oerter
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1960 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Al Oerter
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1964 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Al Oerter
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
1968 Summer Olympics Athletics USA Al Oerter
Discus Throw, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1968 Summer Olympics Flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony USA Al Oerter

Special Notes