Olympic Shot Put Legend Brian Oldfield of Elgin Dies at 71
Brian R. Oldfield, one of the most-famous and most-internationally influential athletes in the history of Kane County, died Sunday, March 26, in his Elgin home at the age of 71.
Oldfield was born on June 1, 1945, in Elgin, the son of Ray and Dorothy (Sportsman) Oldfield, and went on to become an Olympic shot putter and world-record holder who revolutionized the sport by introducing the “Oldfield spin,” a twirling shot put move that has since been adopted by many if not most of the world’s great shot putters.
“The mass of the 16-pound shot creates gravity, and I was drawn to the event the first time I picked one up,” Oldfield wrote on his website, Oldfield.com. “That gravity pulled me out of the little city of Elgin, Illinois, and into a much larger orbit around world.
“The shot put was my religion, my faith, but it was also a demanding (disciplinarian); practice, practice, practice, throw, throw, throw, lift, lift, lift, run, run, run. I tortured myself for the love of the throw.”
“Bigger than life” are the words that appear over and over in Oldfield’s obituaries, which have already appeared in major newspapers and sports magazines throughout America and Europe. At 6 feet, 5 inches tall and nearly 300 pounds at his peak, he was considered a giant during his competitive years in the 1970s and early ’80s.
But he was at least as well known for what Wikipedia describes as “his unconventional persona and on-field antics.”
In 1972, he made the U.S. Olympic team but finished in sixth place. But less than a year later, he set his first world record with a throw of 70 feet, 10½ as a track and field professional — a world record that was not official because of his professional status.
In 1975, his throw of 75 feet set another unofficial world record that captured the attention of a nation and earned him a cover spot on Sports Illustrated. Astonishingly, he finally set an official world record in 1984, at age 38, when he set a new American mark at 72 feet, 9 inches.
Oldfield was known for his shaggy beard and wild mop of hair, his flamboyant outfits and tie-dyed shirts, his participation in the World’s Strongest Man and Highland Games competitions and his brief stints as an actor, ranging from TV cameos to his role as the crazed drug lord Mongo in the 1989 film Savage Instinct, later renamed They Call Me Macho Woman!
But in this corner of the world, Oldfield will always be remembered as the kid from Elgin who made a name and left a legacy on an international stage.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 1, 2017, at the Wait Ross Allanson Funeral & Cremation Services Chapel, 51 Center St., Elgin. Burial will follow at Bluff City Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 31, in the chapel.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be given to the Special Olympics. For information 847-742-2100 or www.lairdfamilyfuneralservices.com.
SOURCE: Laird Family Funeral Home, brianoldfield.com