Parry O’Brien, the man who made the shot put popular.
The legend who single-handedly invented a new technique that helped shot put to reach a whole new level.
William Patrick “Parry” O’Brien is an American shot putter who won 2 gold medals and a silver medal in the Summer Olympics and made a name for himself with his special technique that many shot putters use to this day.
Parry was born on January 28, 1932, and sadly passed away on April 21, 2007. During his lifetime, he broke many records.
O’Brien is still remembered as one of the greatest in the shot put history, and he was enlisted into the hall of fame by IAAF and U.S Olympics a few years ago.
Let’s look at some quick facts about Parry O’Brien.
|Full Name||William Patrick “Parry” O’Brien|
|Birth Date||January 28, 1932|
|Birth Place||Santa Monica, California|
|Death||April 21, 2007|
|Cause of Death||Heart failure|
|Education||Santa Monica High School, University of Southern|
|Father’s Name||Parry O’Brien sr.|
|Age||75 years (at the time of death)|
|Height||6 feet and 2 inches (189cm)|
|Weight||245 lb (111 kg)|
|Profession||Track and field (Shot put)|
|Individual Awards||Olympic Gold Medal in 1952 and 1956 (shot put)
Olympic Silver Medal in 1960 (shot put)
Sullivan Award in 1959
Track and Field Hall of Fame(US) in 1974
US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984
|Wife’s Name||Terri Bakondi, Sandra Cordrey, and Arden Arena|
|Children||Two sons & Two daughters
Sons: Erik Skorge and Norman Skorge
Daughters: Shauna and Erin
|Active Years||1950 – 1966|
|Net Worth||$1 million – $5 million|
|Merch||Autographed Olympic Card, Signed Photo Card, Magazine|
|Last Update||March, 2023|
Parry O’Brien: Body Measurement
Parry stood tall at 6 feet and 2 inches and weighed about 111kgs.
From those body measurements, we can imagine that he must have been a titan in front of any ordinary person.
Parry O’Brien: Early life, Family, and Childhood
William Patrick “Parry” O’Brien was born on January 28, 1932, in Santa Monica, California.
Patrick grew up in Santa Monica and studied at his local school named Santa Monica High School.
O’Brien was a truly blessed child in terms of athletics, and he was always involved in different sports since his childhood.
He had a pretty good relationship with his father while growing up. His father was a sportsperson too who played baseball for a minor league.
Parry O’Brien senior wanted Patrick to follow in his footsteps and become a baseball player, but Parry jr. was never into the sports of baseball.
Parry O’Brien: Wife and Kids
The big man had a tough time finding a stable relationship as he had to go through two divorces before finding someone to settle with.
The giant was first married to Sandra Cordrey on March 16, 1955, and they were together for 5 years before they parted due to unknown reasons.
Then he got married to Arden Arena in June of 1960, hoping for a better relationship, but only if he had known that it would not last as well. They got divorced after few years.
He found the woman of his life, Terry Bakondi, who was there for him till his death.
During all three relationships, he had four kids, 2 sons and 2 daughters.
Erik Skorge and Norman Skorge are his sons, and Shauna and Erin are his daughters.
Parry O’Brien: Career
Parry O’Brien’s father was a baseball player that played minor league baseball.
His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps, but the blond youngster Parry O’Brien resisted his father.
Parry was involved in different sports as he was growing up, but the sport he excelled at was football.
But apparently, when he was on a family trip to Canada, he played by the river bed by casting huge round stones into the river and comparing how far he could throw it.
That’s how he picked up interest in the shot put, and there began the story of a legend who would be remembered as one of the greatest in the history of the shot put.
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At a later date, after rejecting his father’s proposition to pursue baseball, Parry O’Brien ended up playing on the Santa Monica High School football team.
After graduating from Santa Monica High School, he entered the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles on a football scholarship. He acquired the scholarship by winning a state championship in football.
But he was soon steered into track and field by the football coach Jess Hill, who saw his potential in the other sport.
This was an unexpected decision since O’Brien was six feet, three inches tall, weighed 220 pounds, and could run 100 yards in fewer than 10 seconds.
However, later on, Parry O’Brien left football.
The particular reason that he left football was the kick in the stomach during a freshman scrimmage.
After leaving football, O’Brien said, “I gave up football because I wanted to be able to take the credit or the blame for what I did in sports. I always wanted to be the soloist.”
Career: Shot put
His career began in 1951 from sophomore year at USC. He used to train for long hours and prepare himself mentally and physically.
Development of the new technique
In 1951, he came second and was very disappointed because he could have done better.
Even if he was disappointed, his determination was as strong as ever, and later after the tournament, he kept practicing.
While practicing his throws, he realized something that would change the shot put from thereon.
O’Brien developed his own technique of throwing where he would start by facing the back of the circle and rotate 180 degrees and put the shot farther with the spin’s momentum.
This technique was later on known as ‘O’Brien Glide’ or ‘Glide technique.’
The American giant would then go on to win 116 games consecutively with that new technique of his.
During this period, he even broke the world records in the shot put 17 times.
He became the first man to have ever thrown the 16 pounds shot more than 60ft.
He achieved National Collegiate Athletic Association titles in 1952 and 1953.
Then he became the Pan American Games champion in 1955 and 1959.
He also obtained 18 AAU championships, including one in the discus throw. He received the Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete of 1959 as well.
Parry participated in his first Olympic games in 1952, where he set a new record of 57 feet and 1/2 inches.
This led him to win the gold medal in his first Olympic games. He must have been overwhelmed by happiness.
The next Olympics that he competed in was the 1956 Olympics, where he would again win his second gold medal for his country and set a new record once more with the shot of 60 feet, 11 inches.
Then he competed in the 1960 Olympics that was held in Rome.
As the beast was past his prime, he couldn’t win the gold medal for his country this time, but he still got the silver medal despite being in his 30s.
Lastly, He competed in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Despite the throw of 63feet, O’Brien was only able to achieve fourth place this time. Even if he was way past his prime at this point, Parry only kept on improving till he retired in 1966.
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Parry O’Brien: Career after retirement
In 1966, Parry O’Brien retired from competition and continued to pursue other successful careers.
Banking, real estate, and civil engineering were some of the successful careers he established after retiring.
He won the shot put and discus events at the Senior Sports International competition in 1971.
In the mid-1980s, he began competing in “masters” events, setting age-group records in both shot and discus.
Then, He became a charter member of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974 and was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984.
After some time, he took up another sport, competitive swimming, in 1987.
Parry began swimming and was the best among his age group. He placed 2nd in the 200-yard butterfly and swam on a record-setting 200-free relay team in the year’s national master.
He coached himself, studying videos and other swimmers. “I learn by doing,” said O’Brien.
Parry O’Brien: Death
Parry got in countless numbers of top ten swim performances over the past twenty years.
Many of his top ten performances were in butterfly events.
Competitive to the last, he died after suffering a heart attack in a 500-meter freestyle race on April 21, 2007, in Santa Clarita, California.
His wife Terry, two sons, and two daughters were there till his last moments.
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Parry O’ Brien: Net worth
Parry had amassed a huge amount of money during his career and through his real estate businesses.
It is estimated that the net worth of Parry O’Brien was $1 million to $5 million
Parry branched himself out into various directions, which helped him to enjoy different careers in life stages while having the luxury to spend on what he wants to.
Parry O’Brien: Social Media
Unfortunately, Parry passed away before social media like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook were a thing.
So he does not have any social media accounts or any online presence.
What is O’Brien’s style in the shot put?
O’Brien’s style in the shot put is commonly known as the gliding technique these days.
Is Parry inducted into the hall of fame?
Yes, Parry was inducted into the US Track and Field hall of fame in 1974 and the US Olympic hall of fame in 1984.
For which event in athletics is the Parry O’Brien style used?
The Parry O’Brien style is used in the sports of “shot Put.”