Earlene Brown, a USA Track & Field Hall of Famer, who won the last medal by the U.S. in the women’s shot put. That was in 1960, and the color of the medal was bronze. I remember writing about Earlene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I wrote about Ramona Pagel and Connie Price-Smith. I was fascinated with Earlene Brown as she competed against the Press sisters of the old Soviet Union. A colorful lady, Earlene was a gifted athlete. But, as a women athlete in her day, Earlene Brown never got the respect she deserved. I love that she competed in roller derby, one of my favorite TV viewing pleasures as a kid in Saint Louis.
Well, the ghost of Earlene Brown shone brightly in Rio, watching over Michelle Carter, who just improved nearly all night, starting out at 19.12m, then, 19.82m, then, 19.44m, then, 19.87m, then, bammo! 20.63m.
The looks on Valerie Adams face, the two time Olympic gold medalist were priceless, but you won’t see that on TV, because, well, that would make too fine of a story on a women’s sports event. Adams is the ultimate competitor, and she grimaces as she walks into the ring, changing personas, from light and funny (Valerie Adams has a wicked sense of humor), to all business, do not mess with me. It is brilliant, and it is effective. It was effective all night until attempt six.
Michelle Carter has been studying the shot put since she told her father, Michael Carter (yes, that one, 49er football player, high school record holder, Olympic silver medalist) that she wanted to try the shot put. What was cool about that, she knew little of her dad’s shot put history, which is kind of cool in my mi. On my bucket list, I want to interview Michelle and Micheal Carter. What a blast that would be!
Well, Michelle gave the US its second American record of the day and first gold medal, heck any track medal of the 2016 Games!
Here is how I saw the shot put last night!
Michelle Carter takes gold in shot put on final throw, massive 20.63mAR!
Michelle Carter has been close before, but her final throw, the AR holder not only destroyed her own AR, but snatched the gold medal right out of the hands of Valerie Adams, two time Olympic gold medalist.
In a competition that had the lead seesaw, as Carter would throw a nice throw, Adams would respond with a throw and a snarl. In attempt 1, Carter threw 19.12m, Adams threw 19.79m, then, Carter threw 19.82m, then, Adams threw 20.42m. Round 3, it was Carter at 19.44m, Adams at 19.80m. In attempt 4, Carter at 19.87m, an improvement, and Adams fouled. In attempt 5, Carter went 19.84, Adams again fouled.
In round six, Michelle Carter took that certian spot in time, and threw her final attempt with all of her heart. The crowd roared as Carter threw 20.63m, a massive AR! With a quick look, then, snarl, Valerie Adams responded, in 20.39m, her second best of the event, but it was, alas, not to be!
What many do not understand about the shot put is the mental game that is required. One can do all of the lifting, stretching, practicing the power position, and throwing 10,000 times a year, but one must be ready for the challenges that surprise during a competition.
In the Rio Olympic shot put, Michelle Carter put pressure on Valerie Adams, and she responded. On the final time, in the final attempt, Michelle Carter put out the challenge, and Valerie Adams, try as she might, could not answer it.
Check out the warm way that all of the athletes greeted each other after the event. I believe, quite proudly, that track & field athletes are unique in their ability to compartmentalize: after the competiton, it is story telling and the sharing of experiences that make us different from amoebas!