'Diva' Carter shines in golden glitter

Michelle Carter of the United States competing in the shot put final at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, in which she won the gold medal.
Michelle Carter of the United States competing in the shot put final at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, in which she won the gold medal.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Fashion lover is the first American woman to win a shot put medal at the Games since 1960

RIO DE JANEIRO • With crimson lipstick, eyeliner, mascara and a beaming smile, Michelle Carter on Friday won a stunning Olympic shot put gold to sprinkle a little glitz on an event often cruelly ridiculed for the shape of its women athletes.

Holding her nerve, the self-proclaimed "Diva" etched her name in the history books with a last-gasp throw at Rio.

Now the bubbly, fashion-conscious American wants to change the perception of her event and the strong women who compete in it.

"I'm in a sport where people don't look at us like women, they don't look at us like being girls, or feminine," Carter said.

"But I've been girly all my life and so I couldn't separate... between the sport and being a woman.

"I love hair, I love make-up, I love fashion and I love throwing the shot put."

When Carter hurled her last heave of 20.63 metres, she toppled New Zealand's two-time Olympic champion Valerie Adams (20.42m) and became the first American woman to win a shot put medal at the Games in 56 years.

On top of beating Adams, Carter also trumped her coach and father, Michael, who won a shot-put silver in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Now, she teased, the plan is to regularly remind him she went one better.

"I'm gonna be walking around the house saying 'yo daddy, I got you'," she told reporters afterwards, as Michael, who later built a successful American football career, laughed in the audience.

The path to success has not been smooth for Michelle, who finished 15th at the Beijing Games, and then fifth at the London Olympics.

Yet for Michael, both as her father and as her coach, the Rio victory was worth the wait.

"The coach has retired for this year and the dad is now just walking around happy, with his chest stuck out," he said.

In the men's discus competition, German Christoph Harting hurled 68.37m with his last throw of the final to dramatically snatch the Olympic title from Piotr Malachowski and keep it safely in the family.

Harting's older brother Robert won the gold in London four years ago but failed to get through qualifying in Rio after suffering a back injury while trying to switch off a lamp with his foot from his bed.

That appeared to clear the way for the year's form thrower Malachowski and the big Pole did not disappoint with long throws on his first three attempts that would have been good enough for gold until Harting's final attempt.

Malachowski had a chance to get back in front with the last throw of the competition but could not surpass Harting or improve on his earlier 67.55m, settling for silver ahead of German bronze medallist Daniel Jasinski (67.05m).

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 14, 2016, with the headline ''Diva' Carter shines in golden glitter'. Print Edition | Subscribe