The modern hula hoop was invented in the late 1950s but people around the world have played with hoops for centuries. Traditional materials for hoops include willow, rattan, and stiff grasses. The Hula Hoop Games in Buenos Aires were started in 1959 and now attract contestants from around the world.
At these Games the emphasis lies on throwing and rolling the Hula Hoop rather than twirling it around the body while running along or standing still. There are two types of events: the distance events and the accuracy events. The standard 40-inch diameter adult hula hoop is mandatory for all events.
The distance events involve throwing the hoop as far as possible. There is the plain hurl event where the contestant grips the outside of the hoop and throws it into the distance, often twirling around in a circle like a discus thrower to build up momentum before releasing the hoop at the optimum moment. The winner of the event is the person whose hoop lands at the furthest distance from the start line. The furthest distance ever recorded was 156 feet 11 inches by David Nelson from Accra in Ghana in 1997.
From the books Sports the Olympics Forgot