Mykolas Alekna Breaks Longest Standing Men’s Track and Field World Record, Launches Discus 74.35M

By Paul Hof-Mahoney

April 16, 2024

Ramona, Oklahoma is a magical place. This is something we’ve seen glimpses of over the past 12 months, but it fully came to fruition this past weekend.

On Saturday, Yaime Pérez stepped into the discus circle in Throw Town and launched a second-round mark of 71.96m. This throw was a 2.57m PB for the 2019 world champion and puts her at 12th on the all-time list. Pérez’s day was far from over, as her 3rd round effort was somehow better. A mammoth toss of 73.09m moved her up to 9th all-time, the first time an athlete has entered the Top 10 in this event since 1989.

Pérez now sits behind only a collection of Eastern European throwers from the 1980s. Given the doping suspicions around Eastern Bloc athletes in that time frame, many have already dubbed 73.09m the “clean World Record” including Pérez’s coaches and teammates at Garage Strength.

In 2022, following the World Championships in Eugene, Pérez made the decision to defect from her native Cuba. Since then, she has been training under coach Dane Miller in Reading, Pennsylvania. The past year-and-a-half has been a whirlwind of challenges for Pérez and her team, as they are still working towards her being able to compete for the IOC Refugee team in Paris this August.

A glimmer of hope, according to an interview Miller did with Daniel McQuaid after the competition, is that “She just got her permanent residency… so she’s gonna be able to compete in the Diamond League.”

As track and field fans, all we can do is hope a performance of this magnitude can get the ball rolling with some higher-ups in World Athletics and the IOC and we’ll be able to see one of the greatest discus throwers in world history return to the Olympics.

Alongside Pérez, huge props need to go out to Vanderbilt’s Veronica Fraley, who improved her PB by well over 3-and-a-half meters to 67.17m, placing her third in the world and second in the U.S. right now. The mark is a very encouraging sign for Fraley, who looks to make her 3rd straight national team this summer, but her first Olympic appearance.

The elite men’s field was the premiere competition on Sunday afternoon, and somehow it was even better than the women’s field.

Mykolas Alekena preparing to throw discus. Mykolas Alekena preparing to throw discus.

Photo courtesy of Cal Athletics

Not to brag or anything, but we here at CITIUS did say last week in our preview of this meet that we should be on World Record watch. Well, Mykolas Alekna made us look like geniuses. By most accounts, the wind was a little less intense on Sunday than on Saturday, but that didn’t matter.

The first flight saw 3 PBs (shoutouts to Jordan Roach, Youssef Koudssi and Dan Greaves) and the second flight saw 5 (Dallin Shurts, Joseph Brown, Mika Sosna, Turner Washington and Connor Bell). When the third flight, including Alekna, began warming up, there was already plenty of good mojo in the air.

Alekna’s first throw of the competition was 72.21m. Despite moving up from number 10 to number 4 on the all-time list and recording the farthest throw in almost 18 years, he exited the circle shaking his head and then hit us with a double face-palm. It was at this precise moment I knew Jürgen Schult’s record would not survive the day.

His third round effort was an improvement, up to 72.89. Then, in the fifth round, at 5:57pm EST, it happened. As the 21-year-old exited the ring with his right hand held high, everyone in the audience knew it was big. I don’t think anyone outside of Alekna himself knew just how big it was.

A “crowd pop” is a term usually used in professional wrestling, describing the sudden explosion of cheers from a crowd, typically when a fan-favorite makes an unexpected appearance or return. The crowd pop at Millican Field when official (and U.S. women’s javelin record holder) Kara Winger read out the mark of 74.41m was absolutely spectacular (there’s a great video of it on Throws University’s Instagram). It wasn’t the biggest crowd, but it was a collection of people who love track and field and who just had the privilege of witnessing the greatest discus throw in history. One of the people in that crowd was shot put world record holder Ryan Crouser, who was fulfilling his duty as volunteer throws coach for Arkansas thrower Rojé Stona.

In the World Athletics ratification process, the throw was measured by a steel tape and adjusted to 74.35m, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a World Record by a significant margin.

While the best mark of the series is jaw-dropping and will catch the most attention, for obvious reasons, don’t let that take away from the fact that this was also the best, most consistent series of throws we have ever seen. Six legal throws. All beyond 70m. Three throws over 72m. Neither one of those feats had ever been accomplished before. Mykolas’ father, Virgilijus (now second in the family rankings), Gerd Kanter and Daniel Ståhl have each had a series with 4 throws over the 70m mark, and the elder Alekna and Kanter each had a pair of 72m throws in the same series. But nobody, in the 130-plus year history of organized discus throwing, has reached the heights that Mykolas Alekna reached on April 14, 2024.

One final time, because this is probably the most absurd thing about this, Mykolas Alekna is. Twenty. One. Years. Old. He just threw farther than anyone in history and is potentially still 4-5 years from his “traditional” peak.

Finishing in second and third were Stona, with a PB of 69.05m that put him 4th on the world list this season, and Mika Sosna, who threw a nearly 3-and-a-half meter PB to improve from 65.57m to 68.96m, fifth in the world in 2024. Sosna is the World U20 Record holder with a mark of 71.37m with the 1.75kg discus from 2022. In the senior ranks, he now sits 5th in German history, which is incredibly impressive to rank that highly at only 20 years old in a nation with such a rich history in the event.

With the Diamond League circuit picking up over the next few weeks, it’s tough to say if we’ll see another field like this one return to Ramona in 2024. But if we can make any predictions based on this weekend, I think it’s safe to say that this is only the beginning of a historic legacy for the place they call Throw Town.

Paul Hof-Mahoney

Paul is currently a student at the University of Florida (Go Gators) and is incredibly excited to be making his way into the track and field scene. He loves getting the opportunity to showcase the fascinating storylines that build up year-over-year across all events (but especially the throws).