USA’s Michelle Carter caused an upset as she won gold in the women’s shot put on the opening night of the track and field at the Rio Olympics. Carter beat the heavy favorite, New Zealand’s Valerie Adams, with a throw of 20.63m. Adams had won the event in 2008 and 2012, and had not lost since 2010. Adams won silver on Friday with a throw of 20.42m.
It has been a long time since an American woman has won a medal in shot put – 1960 to be exact, when Earlene Brown won bronze in Rome. The event has been in the Olympics for more than 120 years but women couldn’t participate until 1948.
Carter has spoken in the past about how she hopes to change perceptions of women in the event. “I think now, it’s like, ‘You know what? We’re girls and we can throw heavy balls and be in the dirt and we look good while we’re doing it,’”she told the New Yorker. “I think it’s bringing more attention to the sport and girls are realizing, Hey, I can do this and it’s OK to do this as a girl.”
The 30-year-old Carter is the daughter of Michael Carter, who won shot put silver at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, and also won three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.
When she first told her father she wanted to try shot her father asked if she was serious. “At that time, I was not aware of what my dad had accomplished,” Carter told the Team USA website. “I grew up with him playing football, so that’s all I knew. So he asked me a few questions and he was like, ‘OK, well, then since this is what you want to do I’m going to teach you, I’m going to make sure you do it right.’ And the rest is history.”
Carter finished 15th at the 2008 Olympics, and fifth at London 2012.