(USATF) - INDIANAPOLIS -- Brian Oldfield (Elgin, Illinois) set an American record in the men’s shot put on May 16, 1981 and was voted by fans as winner of the eighth USATF Throwback Athlete of the Week award, edging out Tom Petranoff. In the absence of competition during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are taking a weekly look back at some of the great efforts by American track and field athletes through the years.

Competing at the 1981 California Relays in Modesto, California, Oldfield launched a 22.02m/72-3 in the second round to break Terry Albritton’s AR of 21.85m/71-8.5 from 1976. He added a 21.95m/72-0.25 in round five. Only East Germany’s Udo Beyer had ever thrown farther with his world record effort of 22.15m/72-8 in 1978.
Sixth at the 1972 Olympic Games, Oldfield had his best throws as a professional on the ITA circuit, including a 22.86m/75-0 toss at El Paso in 1975 that would have been a world record if not for his professional status. A colorful character and fan favorite, Oldfield also competed in the World’s Strongest Man and in the Highland Games. He died in 2017, age 71.
Other historical performances of note from the May 11-17 period in USATF history:

  • May 11 — Helen Stephens American record in women’s 200m, 24.5 at Warrenton, Missouri in 1935 (also set 100m AR of 11.9 that day)
  • May 12 — Bud Spencer American record in men’s 400m, 47.0 at Stanford, California in 1928
  • May 13 — Lillian Copeland American record in women’s shot put, 13.14m/43-1.25 at Claremont, California in 1928
  • May 14 — Bob Seagren World record in men’s pole vault, 5.32m/17-5.5 at Fresno, California in 1966
  • May 15 — Tom Petranoff World record in men’s javelin, 99.72m/327-2 at Westwood, California in 1983
  • May 17 — Jane Frederick American record in women’s pentathlon, 3,960 points at Millbrae, California in 1969

Now in its 19th year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on USATF.org. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
2020 Winners: January 9, Miranda Melville; January 16, Paul Perry; January 23, Natosha Rogers; January 30, Tyler Day, February 6, Devin Dixon; February 13, Elle Purrier; February 20, Tori Franklin; February 27, Sandi Morris; March 4, Abdi Abdirahman; March 12 Marielle Hall; March 19, Tim Tollefson; April 2, Louise Ritter; April 9, Francie Larrieu Smith; April 16, Erin Gilreath; April 23, Suzy Powell; April 30, Joe Dial; May 7, Dawn Ellerbe; May 14, Ramona Pagel; May 21, Brian Oldfield.
We welcome your nominations!
To nominate an athlete for USATF Athlete of the Week, please send a detailed email about his/her performance to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Fans can follow along with #USATF on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.