Considered by many to be the greatest modern Olympic competitor, Al Oerter defied all odds—too young, needing help from a teammate, injured severely and too old. Al was mentally tough during the 1,460 days between Olympics making sure he worked harder than his competitors. When he entered the stadium his confidence was apparent. There was nothing he could do to make himself any better. Most of all, Al enjoyed being with the best of the best in the world.
· Six National Championships
· Four time World Record Holder
· Member of 19 Halls of Fame
· First athlete to receive IOC Olympic Order
Al Oerter retired after the 1968 Games in order to raise his two daughters and continue his management career in the computer industry. He resumed training in 1976 at age 40 and recorded his lifetime best results between the age of 43 and 47
May 1980, Oerter threw his best official throw ever, 227 feet 11 inches. This throw, more than 15 feet farther than his winning effort in Mexico City in 1968, could have won him the Moscow Olympic gold medal, but the United States boycotted these Games. During the Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR, the fans showed Al their appreciation for his discus career with a 10-minute standing ovation.
In September of '82, at age 45, while filming for ESPN's "Future Sports", Oerter threw the discus beyond 240'. In a competition, this would have been a world record.
The discus, however, was not Oerter's livelihood. He worked in data processing management for Grumman, helping with developing software for the lunar landing. After retirement Al had a successful career in promotions and as a successful motivational speaker.
Al was a thriving abstract artist and founder of Art of the Olympians featuring Olympian artists from around the world, demonstrating the relationship between art and sports as the Olympic founders intended.
As his wife and most devoted fan, it can honestly be said that Al was a greater man than he was an athlete. Although his accomplishments on the field of play were outstanding in all record books, his human qualities shined far brighter. Al's inspiration was a living example to those he met and a reminder of the simple pleasures that life offered. Comfortable in his own skin, Al enjoyed the moment in front of him...watching a sunrise or birds floating in the sky.
He was a big ship on the ocean of life, never wobbling or unsure, content to steadily move forward, enjoying every part of the voyage.
The $50 million Al Oerter Recreation Center was opened March 7, 2009 in Flushing Queens and is nestled near the Billie Jean Tennis Center and World Ice Rink. As a young child Al attended the 1939 World’s Fair and no doubt walked the very grounds his namesake fitness center sits. The family is thankful for NYC Parks and Recreation for naming this center after one of New York’s finest.
Copyright © 2020, Al Oerter. All Rights Reserved.