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B. Plucknett, 48; Discus Thrower Set Two World Records

November 20, 2002|From Associated Press

Ben Plucknett, a great American discus thrower who twice set the world record in 1981, has died. He was 48.

Plucknett died Sunday at his home in Essex, Mo. The cause of death was a brain aneurysm.

Visitors to his home found him soon after his collapse Sunday morning and summoned emergency help, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, officials of the funeral home handling the arrangements told reporters.

Plucknett set the world discus record of 237 feet, 4 inches on July 7, 1981, in Stockholm, according to USA Track & Field, governing body for the sport in the United States.

His showing in Stockholm broke his first world record, a throw of 233 feet, 7 inches set in Modesto on May 16, 1981.

Plucknett's world record was broken by a 243-foot throw in 1986 by Jurgen Schult of Germany.

Plucknett's mark of 237-4, however, still stands as the top discus performance by a U.S. athlete.

"A testament to his greatness is how long the U.S. record has been in place. It's very, very impressive. He is one of the greatest throwers this country has produced," USA Track & Field spokesman Tom Surber said Tuesday in Indianapolis.

Plucknett was born in Beatrice, Neb. He lettered in track and field at the University of Missouri from 1973 to 1976.

In 2001, he was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame.

The 6-foot-7 Plucknett, who weighed 300 pounds when competing, qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, but did not participate because of the U.S. boycott of the Moscow games.

He finished fourth in the 1988 Olympic trials, just short of qualifying for the U.S. team in Seoul.

Plucknett's career was marred by allegations of steroid use.

In 1981, he was banned for life by the International Amateur Athletic Federation. That ban was later cut to 18 months.

Plucknett is survived by his mother, a brother and a sister.

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