Olympics

Texas alum Carter first U.S. female shot putter to win gold

United States’ Michelle Carter competes in the final of the women’s shot put during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.
United States’ Michelle Carter competes in the final of the women’s shot put during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. AP

Michelle Carter bent down and appeared to shed a tear. But, no, instead the “Shot Diva” was applying her lip gloss.

It’s best to throw good AND look good.

“That’s Michelle,” said Michael Carter, Michelle’s dad and her coach. “She thinks about her looks first.”

Michelle Carter, a certified personal makeup artist, became the first American woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in the shot put. Earlene Brown won the bronze at the 1960 Games in Rome for Team USA’s only other medal in the sport.

Carter, 30, saved her best for last, with her sixth and final throw of 67 feet, 8  1/4 inches (20.63 meters), a personal-best.

“I just said to myself, ‘Really?!’ ” Carter said of her reaction when she saw the result. “To see that distance, it was a great feeling because I knew 20.21, 20.24 has been my max, but I knew I had more in the tank and to be able to go out there and put the pieces together and put it out there, I’m just really excited.”

The Red Oak and University of Texas product overtook two-time defending Olympic gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand, who had a 67-foot throw on her second attempt. Adams, as the last thrower, had one more chance to reclaim the gold.

The drama built as Adams released the 8.8-pound shot, but Adams, Carter and the entire Olympic Stadium knew immediately when it landed that Adams’ last effort had come up short.

“That was a big throw,” Adams said of Carter’s winning effort. “You can never underestimate anybody, especially Michelle. She’s one of these people who can pop out anything, especially in the last round as she’s done in the past. I’ve done the same thing in the past.

“…It’s sport. You’ve got to run with it and give it your very best shot, and that’s what I did tonight.”

Not everyone believed in Carter.

Sports Illustrated failed to pick Carter to medal in its Olympic preview, something Michelle and Michael duly noted.

“I always told her, ‘You have a chance to win the gold. You just have to keep practicing and continue to do what you’re supposed to do,’ ” said Michael, who won a silver medal in the shot and three Super Bowls as a defensive lineman with the 49ers. “I told her she could throw 21 meters. She came close with a 20.63. To beat Valerie and all the other favorites [was sweet]. Even in Sports Illustrated, her name wasn’t even mentioned for a medal. That was a motivating factor.”

Carter used her Olympic experience to her advantage.

She finished 15th in 2008 and fifth in 2012 and could soon see that result rise to fourth. Russian Yevgeniya Kolodko, the 2012 silver medalist, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs earlier this year and likely will lose her medal.

“I’ve been to three Olympics, so I hope I learned something along the way,” said Carter, who lives and trains in Ovilla. “I was trying to pull from my experience and give it my all on my last throw.”

She did just that, one-upping her dad and becoming the greatest female shot putter in U.S. history.

“Everybody wants to come out and win the gold,” Carter said. “Sometimes it takes a personal-best. Sometimes it doesn’t. But to be able to have all those pieces finally kind of come together that you’ve been working and putting together and it all comes together for that one moment, it’s a great feeling.”

Wearing her red lip gloss, Carter’s smile was hard to miss.

Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean

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