At the 1956 Olympic Games, a 19-year-old American took part in the discus throw. No one considered him a threat until with his very first throw, he upset the favourites and broke the Olympic record. Al Oerter had said before the Games that he hoped to compete in three Olympics before he retired. Now, that prospect chilled his rivals.
Their fear was not unjustified. In the 1960 Rome Olympics, Oerter, this time the favourite, produced another personal best with his fifth throw. In the 1964 Tokyo Olympics he displayed almost superhuman courage. He had come to the games with a dislocated cervical vertebra. In the qualifying round, he cast off his neck brace and inspite of the obvious pain he was in, produced an Olympic record throw of 60.54 m! In the final, he came from behind to win an amazing third gold medal, saying," These are the Olympics. You die for them."
Oerter again won the gold medal in the 1968 Mexico Olympics, at the age of 32, performing his best-ever, with a record throw of 64.78 m. It was a unique achievement — golds in the same event at four consecutive Olympics. His rivals shuddered at the mention of his name and they all heaved a sigh of relief when he decided not to compete in 1972!