Randy Matson

History's Greatest Shot Putter

 

Randy Matson is this author's second cousin. As a child growing up in Kansas, I was privileged to follow Randy's career as my parents would take me to every event that Randy participated in which was within driving distance. It was an exciting time for a young child to have a family member who was considered one of the strongest men in the world. Randy became the first man to break track and field's 70 foot barrier in the shot put.

 

The following life story is taken from Wikipedia:

James Randel ("Randy") Matson (born March 5, 1945 in Kilgore, Texas) is a former United States Olympic shot put thrower. In 1968 he stood 6'6.5", and weighed about 20 stone (280 lbs/127 Kg).

Randy Matson was reared in Pampa, the seat of Gray County in the Texas Panhandle. At the age of twelve, he participated in his first track meet. He won the 50-yard dash, the 100-yard dash, the long jump and the high jump and finished sixth in the shot put. He attended Pampa High School, where he was a three-sport standout in football, basketball, and track and field. He won All-District football honors, and was a two-time All-District and one-time All-State basketball player, averaging 15 points per game. In track and field, he was a two-time State Champion in both the shot put and the discus and could run the 100 yard dash in 10.2 seconds. This led him to be named an All-State and All-American in track and field.

Randy Matson is considered by many to be the greatest shot putter of all time, considering his massive improvement of the world record. He chose to attend Texas A&M University, where he continued to work on his shot put skills. In his first full year of using the heavier college (adult or Senior) shot (16 pounds), Matson won the Olympic Silver Medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

From 1965 through 1971, Matson entered 79 competitions and won 73 of them. In a two month span in 1965 he broke the world record three times, adding over 2 feet to the previous mark, until it stood at 21.52m (70'7.25"). He earned his B.B.A. in Marketing from Texas A&M in 1967, and was then drafted by teams in the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and the American Basketball Association. He turned them all down to concentrate on track and field. He had a considerable rivalry with Neal Steinhauer, but usually came out on top.

Matson improved his world record to 21.78m in 1967, and was rewarded with the James E. Sullivan Award, given to the nation's outstanding amateur athlete. He earned the Olympic Gold Medal at the Mexico City Games in 1968, and was named the 1970 Track and Field News Athlete of the Year.

In 1967 he threw the discus to within three inches (8 cm) of the (then) world record, and was [briefly] considered as a possible double Olympic champion in shot and discus - like Clarence Houser in 1924 - but Matson only competed in the shot in Mexico City.

He just missed making the 1972 Olympic team when he finished fourth at the Olympic Trials. Matson retired after that contest as the only man who had ever thrown a shot put over 70 feet. He was inducted into the Texas A&M Hall of Fame in 1972, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, the National Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1984, and the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
 

 

 

Sports Illustrated articles on Randy.
Life Magazine article on Randy, May 21, 1965.
High school clippings sent to my Grandparents by Randy's Dad.
Mexico City photos
Career highlights
Randy's page from the Sullivan Awards website.
Video of Randy throwing.
Randy's basketball career.
2008 Beijing preview article by Bill Livingston of Cleveland, OH.
Cover article about Randy from England's World Sports Magazine, August, 1967.
Randy on the cover of the Official Collegiate Track and Field Guide, 1967
My relationship to Randy Matson.

 

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