"I am Swedish Viking," roared 6ft 7 in, 155kg Daniel Stahl as he celebrated his maiden Olympic gold medal at Tokyo's New National Stadium in 2021. Discus thrower Stahl, 29, heads into the World Athletics Championships in Oregon as the reigning Olympic and world champion. Stahl has the world's best throw to his credit since 2013.

Ice hockey over discus throw

Incidentally, Stahl was never fond of discus throw as a youngster. He was more interested in ice hockey. At 15, he started trying out multi-sports activities, which are an integral part of the Swedish school system. Stahl dabbled in the shot put and discus throw.

"I used to be a keen ice hockey player in my youth, but I quit aged 15 and the following year I started training for track and field. Back then as a junior, I just wanted to have fun and I didn’t take the discus too seriously," Stahl told World Athletics in 2017.

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For seven years after starting to compete internationally, he didn't win anything. His throws were not remarkable either.

Competing in his maiden international event at the World U-20 Championships in 2009 in Brixen, Italy, Stahl finished 16th both in the shot put and discus throw.

In the next edition in 2010, he didn't even compete in the discus throw, giving shot put a preference. This time, he went down further on the ladder to finish 27th, making the first-round exit.

In the 2011 European Junior Championships, too, he performed poorly in the shot put and again gave the discus throw event a miss.

How did things change?

After the failure at the European Juniors, he started training under Vesteinn Hafsteinsson, the coach who trained 2004 Olympic shot put silver medallist Joachim Olsen and 2008 Olympic discus champion Gerd Kanter.

Three weeks later, he hurled the discus 55.60 metres, an improvement of six metres, and won the gold at the Swedish Athletics Championships. This was the turnaround moment of his career.


In 2013, he gave up the shot put and focused on the discus. At the European U-23 Championships, he finished fourth with a throw of 61.29m, his then-personal best.

Long wait for gold

But success was still few and far between. In his first appearance at the senior World Championships in 2015 in Beijing, Stahl came up with 64.73m to finish fifth. In the 2016 European Championships, he put up another fifth-place finish show but threw the discus to a greater distance of 64.77m. In the Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, he was a big disappointment as he failed to qualify for the medal round.

A couple of weeks later, in his first competition after the Olympics at the Swedish Championships, Stahl won the discus throw event with his personal best of 68.72m.

After finishing the season on a high, Stahl breached the 70m mark for the first time in June 2017, registering 71.29m. This was the best throw in the world since 2013, when Piotr Malachowski of Poland hurled the discus 71.84m distance.

However, a gold medal on the big stages eluded him. Competing at the 2017 World Championships, Stahl threw a monstrous 69.19m, but won silver as Lithuania's Andrius Gudzius edged him out by just two centimetres.

In his next meet at the 2018 European Championship, Gudzius beat Stahl again.


Stahl's long wait for the coveted gold finally ended when he was crowned world champion at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, a decade after he first competed in an international meet. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the sports calendar, he had to wait for one more year to taste the joy of the ultimate glory of athletics, success at the Olympics.

As the Tokyo Olympics got underway in 2021, Stahl snatched the discus gold with a 68.90m throw.

In contention for the second Worlds gold

Stahl is on the verge of winning his second consecutive Worlds gold at Oregon. He is likely to face tough competition, especially from Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia.

Kristjan beat Stahl at the European Throwing Cup in March in Portugal.