The first stones thrown in sport were by the Ancient Greeks, but it was not until the Highland Games in Scotland in the 19th century that competitors officially threw a rounded stone from behind a line. A metal ball – the shot – is not thrown – it is put and has now been a part of every modern Olympics since 1896. With a weight just over 7kgs, the shot must travel 10.6 metres in competition. In Paralympic athletic competitions, the shot put must land within a 35-degree-wide area and the current world record in the F38 class is held by Australian athlete Cameron Crombie with a distance of 15.95 metres achieved in 2017.
Cameron’s record may be challenged by CatholicCare Sydney’s very own, Solon Toiava, in next year’s Para Athletics in Paris – Solon recently recorded a distance of 8.34 metres and a silver medal at the 2023 NSW Para Championships, and he promises he has better distances to come.
With a French Polynesian father and a mother with Samoan and Tongan backgrounds, it seems Solon could have his choice of countries to represent but he proudly competes under the Australian flag and cannot wait to represent his country of birth.
First putting the shot in 1999, Solon is inspired by his extended family – many of whom have represented Samoa on the world athletics stage, and his favourite superhero - the Incredible Hulk.
But it is not just muscle when it comes to shot put – Solon has worked incredibly hard on balance, focus, and believing in himself. Great shot putters have strength in their legs giving them the force to propel the shot, but Solon competes as an F38 athlete – indicating he has coordination impairments in the lower trunk and legs, making his achievements even more remarkable.
The close-knit team at CatholicCare Sydney’s Disability Services couldn’t be prouder of their countryman’s achievements, nor of the inspirational words of wisdom he lives by...
“Try to be a good person, eat well, exercise and find a focus in life so that you can be the best you can.” Solon
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