My last post examined the prospects of US men making the finals and/or medaling next year in Beijing and the following year in Rio.
Now, let’s consider the ladies.
8th:62.80m Bronze: 64.96m Silver: 66.28m Gold: 67.99m
3rd: Shelbi Vaughan 59.75m
2nd: Liz Podominick 59.96m
1st: Gia Lewis-Smallwood 65.96m
Gia’s career seemed dead in the water just a couple of years ago, but she pulled off a rare trick for an American thrower: she found a way to stay in the sport long enough to find her groove. She finished fifth in Moscow, and has shown the ability to throw 64-65 meters overseas in stadiums. She is also, to my knowledge, the only thrower to defeat Sandra Perkovic in the past two years. (Fun Fact: over 600 people have climbed Mt. Everest in that time). The big question is, can Gia at thirty-five years of age hold off the ravages of time long enough to get on the podium in Beijing and Rio? If she does, it will be a great, great moment for American throwing.
(This just in! As I am about to post this article, Gia has thrown 65.59m to take third at the Paris DL meet)
Another question: Can 2008 Olympic champ Stephanie Brown Trafton come all the way back from taking time off to have a baby? She had to be encouraged by her performance in Sacramento (58.84m), but she and Gia are about the same age, so…
A final question: What about the youngsters? Shelbi Vaughan is a special athlete, but she cannot be expected to throw bombs overseas in August after enduring the rigors of the NCAA season, especially if she continues playing volleyball. Whitney Ashley (fifth in Sacramento at 58.68m) is another gifted athlete waiting in the wings. (Fun Fact: At the 2013 Adidas Grand Prix meet, Perkovic’s coach told me that he thought Ashley had a lot of potential but that she should reverse instead of using a fixed-feet finish).
Outlook: In my dream scenario (the one that does not involve Angelina Jolie) Gia and Stephanie both elbow their way onto the podium next to Perkovic in Beijing or Rio.
8th: 61.30m Bronze: 65.09m Silver:66.60m Gold: 69.05m
3rd: Leigh Petranoff 57.80m
2nd: Brittany Borman 62.05
1st: Kara Patterson 62.43m
Does anyone else view the javelin as a fickle event? Three weeks ago in New York, I watched the Australian javeliner Kathryn Mitchell throw 66.02m easy as pie and Linda Stahl (a German) throw 67.32m easy as strudel. Then, earlier this week at the Lausanne DL meeting, they went 58.23m and 63.20m respectively.
Outlook: Given the “on any given day” nature of the event, it is entirely possible that Borman or Patterson could make the final in Beijing and/or Rio. A medal, though, is unlikely. Their best route to the podium at a major international meet is to pull a Gia and stay in the sport into their thirties (Mitchell, by the way, is having her best season at the age of thirty-one).
The Shot Put
8th: 18.09m Bronze: 19.95m Silver:20.41m Gold: 20.88m
3rd: Tia Brooks 18.83m
2nd: Felisha Johnson 19.18m
1st: Michelle Carter 19.45m
Loads of potential among this threesome of young gliders, two of whom have already garnered significant international experience. Tia was 8th in Moscow, Michelle missed the bronze by a centimeter.
Outlook: There is no reason the US should not have two shot finalists in Beijing and Rio. And after that? Valerie Adams is only twenty-nine, but the Herculean effort behind her seemingly effortless domination of the sport (two Olympic, three Indoor World and four Outdoor World golds since 2007) has left her contemplating retirement after 2016. Carter, who threw an American record 20.24m last season, is only a year younger than Val, but seems to be just coming into her own. If she can hang in there for another Olympic cycle after Rio, she might be able to contend for that rather large open space at the top of major championship podiums.
8th: 72.70m Bronze: 75.58m Silver: 78.46m Gold: 78.80m
3rd: Amber Campbell 71.35m
2nd: Jessica Cosby Toruga 71.72m
1st: Amanda Bingson 75.07m
In the past two seasons, three American women (Bingson, Cosby Toruga, and Jeneva McCall) have thrown 74 meters or better. Cosby Toruga is thirty-two, but both McCall and Bingson are just two years out of college. Same for Gwen Berry, who threw 73.81m last year.
Outlook: For Beijing and Rio, getting two in the top eight is certainly attainable. Beyond that, one or more of the Bingson/McCall/Berry trio needs to get her PB into the 77-78 meter range to increase the odds of hitting a medal-winning 76m in a major championship.