Catastrophic Injuries Pull Focus On Field Event Safety

Paul Steinbach Headshot

Duffy Mahoney didn't see the impact. Just hearing the dull thud of a 16-pound shot crushing a man's skull and the shrieks of witnesses was sickening enough.

Mahoney, one of USA Track & Field's foremost experts on meet management, was working the 2005 U.S. championships when 77-year-old Paul Suzuki, himself a 30-year officiating veteran, was fatally struck as he stood within the shot-put sector during practice. Imagine being hit in the head with the heaviest available bowling ball after it has been launched some 60 feet through the air - the full brunt of that force concentrated within a sphere measuring a mere 130 millimeters in diameter.

"I was watching the athletes in and around the circle as they were picking up their shots and warming up," Mahoney recalls. "This official was out in the field. An older gentleman, he was not fleet of foot and, in my judgment, had a lapse of awareness. He just turned and moved the wrong way at the wrong time."

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