August 1, 2012

Michelle Carter wants to follow in her father's footsteps in shot put

Michelle Carter needs a career-best showing to pass up father Michael.

LONDON -- Michelle Carter was more than a year from being born when her father, Michael, won an Olympic silver medal in the shot put in 1984. Competing in her second Olympics, Michelle doesn't have to be reminded she has a lot to live up to.

The Grand Prairie resident has worn the medal, heard the stories and seen the videos.

"That's like an ongoing competition," Michelle said Wednesday. "We always talk about who has the most high school titles, and who has the most college titles, and he has the Olympic silver medal. So for me to beat him, I have to get gold."

Michael is better known for his football exploits. He was a defensive tackle on SMU's undefeated teams in 1981 and '82. Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in '84, Michael earned three Super Bowl rings and three Pro Bowl trips in his nine-year career with the 49ers.

"I can't do anything about [matching her dad's] Super Bowl rings," Michelle said, laughing, "because I'm a girl."

Michelle, 26, will have to have a career best and then some Monday to match Michael's Olympic medal. Ten shot putters are ranked ahead of Carter's season-best, including teammate and good friend Jillian Camarena-Williams.

Michelle finished second to Camarena-Williams at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June with a put of only 60 feet, 111/4 inches. Her career-best is 65-2, which she had last year in winning the national title.

Belarus' Nadzeya Ostapchuk, the world's best, has a put of 70-9 3/4 this season.

Still, Michelle continues to dream the dream.

"I want to be on that podium," said Michelle, who finished 15th in Beijing four years ago. "My No. 1 goal is to get a gold, but I'll take a silver or bronze. I really want that gold, though."

Michael is more proud of his Olympic medal than his Super Bowl rings. Football was something he did because he was big and strong and grew up in Texas, and eventually, it was something that paid his bills. But the shot was something he loved.

"I put the Olympics above the Super Bowl," Michael said. "I get chills when I watch the Olympics. I watch the Super Bowl every year, but this comes around once every four years."

Michael's career now is a throwing coach. He works with the Texas Throwbacks Track Club in Ovilla, and he resumed coaching his daughter in 2010 after a two-year break. (Michelle also spends half her training time in Arlington, working with former TCU star Jon Drummond.)

It is natural to assume that Michelle became a shot putter because her father was a shot putter. But she actually took up the shot in the seventh grade only because she missed the deadline for basketball physicals. The coaches sent her to track, where she informed them that she doesn't run.

"They said, 'You don't have to run if you do the shot,'" Michelle said.

After Michael was sure the shot put was her idea, he began coaching her in the driveway. Their coach-athlete relationship continued even at the University of Texas, which didn't have a throwing coach.

But the two needed a break before the Beijing Olympics, and SMU track and field coach Dave Wollman worked with Michelle in 2008-09. Michael didn't go to Beijing.

"It was rough at first," Michelle said of her father as her coach. "It was like, 'Oh, I don't want to see him today.' At the end of the day, we both have the same goal. I know what I want from myself, and I know what he expects from me.

"Our expectations are the same, so now, it's not as much pressure. We're working together to get the same goal accomplished."

Michael wants only one thing from his daughter: her best, which is all he's ever wanted.

"And wherever that lands, that's where it lands," Michael said.

Charean Williams


Twitter: @NFLCharean

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