Brian Oldfield, an Olympic shot-putter likened to a “blond mountain,” died Sunday in his native Elgin, according to his website.
Mr. Oldfield, 71, had struggled for years with ailing health and declining finances. But in the mid-1970s, “he was the single best shot-putter in the world,” said Dave Johnson, director of the Penn Relays competition and a longtime Track & Field News editor.
He used a signature rotation, dubbed the “Oldfield spin,” that gave him explosive power.
“He was agile for such a big man and very quick,” Johnson said.
Once, Mr. Oldfield strode through competitions — and discos— like a golden god. A 1976 People magazine article about him was headlined, “Scramble 12 Eggs and Hide All the Chicks — Brian Oldfield’s Back in Town.”
On a Track & Field News forum, one mourner called him “the only guy I’ve ever seen compete in Speedos while chain smoking as he paced the field between jumps.”
After graduating in 1963 from Elgin High School and attending Middle Tennessee State, Mr. Oldfield made the 1972 Olympic team, beating out Randy Matson, a gold medalist at the 1968 games. In Munich, Mr. Oldfield finished sixth in the shot put.
He then joined a pro track-and-field tour. He threw 75 feet in 1975, “well beyond the world record,” Johnson said. And though “it was a hard thing for him to get back amateur standing in time for the 1980 Olympics,” he managed to do it, Johnson said, only to be disappointed when the U.S. boycotted the games because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Mr. Oldfield also sparred with Muhammad Ali and set multiple records in Highland games. He once dunked a 16-pound shot put.
He sometimes wore a T-shirt that said “King of the Whirld.”