It was feared that a late Olympic games, scheduled to capitalize on summer weather in Melbourne’s southern hemisphere location, would throw off those northerly athletes who were used to resting in the winter. But TIME’s report from the 1956 games highlighted one reigning Olympic champion that was sure to twist and spin his way to a second consecutive victory. The December 1956 profile of Parry O’Brien described the theatrics of his shot put:
“The show begins with Parry snarling around the track, sinking into what he calls his “competitive trance,” beneath which lies the quick temper of a scalded hog. When the spirit moves him, he snatches up the shot in his left hand, licks the fingers of his right hand and rubs the saliva on the back of his neck.”
Sure enough, nearly every top shotputter adopted a similar form. But O’Brien, first and presumably best at it, would claim gold in Melbourne.