Last Saturday afternoon at the Mt. SAC Relays at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., a pleasant southerly breeze was blowing through the open-ended stadium as 6'4", 260-pound Mac Wilkins moved into the ring to make his first throw in the final round of the discus event. He and his rivals would be throwing toward the southeast, meaning that the zephyrs amounted to a lovely "quartering wind" from the right that would tuck in under their spinning missiles and perhaps nudge them a little farther along.
As Wilkins uncorked his toss, the PA announcer was giving his all to the final leg of an 880-yard high school relay, and the discus landed almost unnoticed by the diverted fans. Finally, the PA blared that Mac Wilkins had thrown the discus "69.18 meters!"
Silence in the stands. Who even knows how tall he is in meters, much less that 69.18 of the things equals a new world record? Down on the field, however, Mac Wilkins was being mobbed. At last, the announcer informed the crowd that the bearded giant from San Jose, Calif. had set a world record of 227 feet, breaking John Powell's mark by four inches. There was warm well-after-the-fact applause, as Wilkins nervously watched officials reweighing his discus, which turned out to be two ounces heavier than the required four-pound, six-ounce weight.
Wilkins, 25, and now competing for the Pacific Coast Club, was known as Multiple Mac when he threw the javelin, shot, hammer and discus as a somewhat gangly 210-pounder at the University of Oregon. Since then he has added weight on a brew of potatoes, tomatoes, soybean extract and whole mackerel that he and his college roommate, decathlete Craig Brigham, invented. But as he grew, a chronic elbow injury forced him to drop the javelin, and now a recently bruised collarbone has prevented him from training for the shot, an event in which he has thrown 68'4½" indoors.
Did his discus record indicate he had peaked too early for the Olympics? "No way," Wilkins said. "I really didn't feel that good. They were just going far today. It was more of a power throw. I think my technique is catching up with my athletic ability. It's not there yet, but it's getting there."