Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Tolo ready for a shot at Olympics glory

As the new Asian record holder, earning automatic entry into Paris Games has set up the young shot putter for bigger, brighter days.

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For 23-year-old Saudi shot putter Mohammed Daouda Tolo, the forthcoming Paris Olympics could be the springboard to greater glory as his sights are set firmly on the quadrennial showpiece.

Tolo’s rise to stardom was phenomenal as it took just a single throw to change the course of his career. Last month, at the Estadio Vallehermoso in Madrid, Tolo didn’t just set a new personal best of 21.80 meters but also smashed his previous mark by more than a meter.

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His imperious feat saw him earn automatic qualification for the 2024 Olympics in Paris and become the new Asian record holder, edging out the continent’s previous best – India’s Tajinderpal Singh Toor – by 3cm.

“For a long time, my goal was to reach this [Asian record] number and I am so happy with this achievement,” Tolo told Al Arabiya English. “But I will not stop at this, I want to continue to beat this record and throw further.”

Battling with the world’s best


Last month’s throw propelled Tolo into the top 10 of shot put world rankings and he is now set to battle with the world’s best on August 2 for a place in the Olympics final on August 3.

“It is a beautiful and indescribable feeling to compete in the Olympics, and this is something I am very proud of,” Tolo says. “As any athlete would in this situation, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride.”

While Tolo is making his Olympics debut, Americans Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs are back among the contenders in 2024, having won gold and silver, respectively, at Tokyo 2020, while bronze medalist Tom Walsh is also in the field again.

Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Daouda A Tolo reacts during the men’s shot put final. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Daouda A Tolo reacts during the men’s shot put final. (Reuters)


The Saudi shot putter, whose late entry means he “unfortunately” won’t have any friends or family present in Paris to cheer for him, would love to win a medal, though he insists participation alone represents a major milestone.

“I just want to compete honorably and to honor the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and all Arab athletes in the world,” Tolo said of his Paris goals. “I want to make them proud.”



Teenage quest


Tolo celebrated his 23rd birthday this March, but it was a teenage quest to improve his strength that first inspired him to take up the shot put.

“I always aspired to gain strength and become powerful,” Tolo explains. “I found this fit perfectly with the sport of shot put. I saw, and still see, that shot put has this spirit of competition and courage, but at the same time it is something fun,” Tolo said.

He also dabbled into throwing discus and though his focus is now on shot put, he sometimes competes in the other discipline as well, doing so as recently as the Saudi Arabian Athletics Championships in May.

The Saudi athlete cites “adaptability” as the most important quality for any shot putter and it was a characteristic he demonstrated last October at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.


Significant accolade

After three shorter throws, Tolo set a mark of 20.18 at the fourth attempt and looked headed for a gold medal, only to be denied by Indian rival Toor on the final throw. Still, the silver medal was a significant accolade for Tolo, who was competing in his maiden Asian Games.

Gold medalist India’s Tajinderpal Toor poses after winning the men’s shot put final with silver medalist Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Daouda A Tolo and bronze medalist China’s Yang Liu. (Reuters)
Gold medalist India’s Tajinderpal Toor poses after winning the men’s shot put final with silver medalist Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Daouda A Tolo and bronze medalist China’s Yang Liu. (Reuters)



“It was a very important moment for me because it was my first-ever participation,” Tolo recalls. “To win silver was an excellent achievement and a major reward for the work I have done so far in my career.”

That career will reach a new pinnacle in Paris, where Tolo will be one of just two Saudis competing in athletics, along with pole vaulter Hussain al-Hizam. But Tolo is confident that he will be part of a bigger Saudi delegation by the time the Los Angeles 2028 Games are held.

“I am sure we will see more athletes from the Kingdom competing in the Olympics,” Tolo said. “The development of sports is happening fast in Saudi Arabia and we can see the performance of athletes is improving across multiple sports.”

Read more:

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