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Word of the Week

Kugelstossen

How far can you throw?

If you were listening to any Olympic coverage in German, you would have heard the term Kugelstossen quite often during the last week. German athlete Christina Schwanitz was considered a force to be reckoned with in this sport at this year's games, but missed out on a medal, coming in eleventh place. Nadzeya Ostapchuk of Belarus (pictured) took home gold.

Kugelstossen is German for shot put, a discipline with that can be traced back over 2,000 years to the Scottish Highlands. In the 16th century, the notorious King Henry VIII had a reputation for being a very fine shot put sportsman - perhaps he got plenty of practice defending himself from his six wives. But the first records of the sport date from the 19th century, when it is said that soldiers started throwing cannon balls and competing as to who could throw the cannon ball the longest distance. It was only in 1866 that the sport became part of the British Amateur Championships.

Like many German words, Kugelstossen is beautifully literal and gets to the essence of the sport: Kugel means ball, sphere or even bullet, whereas stossen means to push, thrust or bump.

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