[I haven’t had the privilege of meeting the great man, but a close friend from Long Island, NY, knows him well and says he is a wonderful guy. And what a legend - kk ]
Among Olympic gold medallists who gathered at the New York Athletic Club on October 11th, 2006 to honour Al Oerter were Otis Davis, Bob Beamon, Jenny Thompson, Pat McCormick, Horace Ashenfelter, Tom Courtney, Ray Lumpp, Charley Moore ands Ollan Cassell. (Victah Sailer / Photo Run)
Al Oerter honoured in New York
Thursday 12 October 2006
New York, USA - In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his victory in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, discus throwing legend, Al Oerter, was honoured last night (11) at the New York Athletic Club (NYAC), the club for which he competed for his entire career.
Oerter claimed four Olympic gold medals, in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1968, a feat unparalleled until Carl Lewis took four consecutive golds in the Long Jump (1984 to 1996). Oerter may claim the better record, however, having set an Olympic record with each of his winning throws.
A galaxy of Olympic legends gathered at the NYAC to pay tribute to Oerter, including Bob Beamon, Horace Ashenfelter, Tom Courtney, Charley Moore and Lindy Remigino.
James O’Brien (NYAC) for the IAAF
Al Oerter - Career summary:
Al Oerter of USA throwing for his first Olympic Discus gold in Melbourne in 1956
The greatest athlete ever to compete in the men’s Discus Throw, Al Oerter of the USA, participated in four Olympic Games, always as the underdog, and came out each time as the winner, having set an Olympic record in the event. A native of Astoria, NY, Oerter won his first gold medal in Melbourne in 1956, while he was a student at the University of Kansas, upsetting fellow American Fortune Gordien and establishing an Olympic record of 56.36m.
Four years later, at the Olympic Trials for the Rome Games, he suffered his first defeat in more than two years when he lost to Rink Babka. Yet at the Olympics themselves, he topped Babka with an Olympic record throw of 59.18m.
The drama continued at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, where Ludvik Danek of Czechoslovakia, who had won 45 straight competitions, was the favourite. Suffering from a disc injury and torn cartilage in his lower ribs, Oerter was given little chance of success. Yet on his fifth throw, after removing his neck harness, Oerter became the first thrower to win three consecutive gold medals, thanks to a mighty 61.00m heave.
He won his fourth gold in 1968, throwing another Olympic record, 64.78m, which was also then his life-time best, and in doing so he again upset Danek, and World record holder Jay Silvester.
After retiring in 1968, he returned eight years later to challenge for the 1980 and 1984 Olympic teams. Incredibly, in 1980, he achieved his best-ever throw (69.46m), aged 43. Oerter was elected to the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.
Throughout his career Oerter set 4 World records. Today he is an abstract painter having won several awards and has had numerous one man shows. His work can be viewed on his web site www.aloerter.com