Saunders secures U.S. shot put silver, Adams bronze for 4th medal

Posted at 10:55 PM, Jul 31, 2021

China's Gon Lijiao launched a massive 20.58m personal best Sunday morning in Japan to capture women's shot put gold, rounding out a career Olympic medal yield of every color, while mother-of-two Kiwi Valerie Adams earned a record fourth medal with bronze.

American Raven Saunders, known for her energetic, mask-wearing showmanship, captured silver in her second Games to follow up fellow countrywoman Michelle Carter's historic gold in Rio, which was USA's first medal in the event since 1960. Saunders was fifth in 2016.

Carter had surgery in June to remove a tumor from her right ankle, later revealed to be benign.

New Zealander Adams, competing in her fifth Games, won bronze to become the most decorated Olympic women's shot putter of all time, passing Soviets Galina Zybina and Nadezhda Chizhova's three-medal totals as well as staying ahead of Gong's updated count.

The five-time world medalist made her Olympic debut in Athens at the age of 19, finishing seventh. Seventeen years later, now 36, Adams gave birth twice over the past Games cycle — she had daughter Kimoana in October 2017 and son Kepalili in March 2019.

"It's not only my journey, it's their journey, too," Adams said after the competition, holding a photo of her two children.

SEE MORE: The many faces of American shot put standout Raven Saunders

In the sole final of the day's morning session with no shade in temperatures exceeding 102 degrees Fahrenheit, Gong and Saunders opened up with 19.95m and 19.65m heaves, then both fouled on their second attempts.

Gong improved to 19.98m on her next attempt before unleashing two colossal puts on her last two attempts, twice breaking her 20.43m personal best in 20.53m and 20.58m to seal the victory.

The two-time reigning world champion said in a post-race interview he next goal is to break the 21-meter mark.

Her previous Olympic medals were both earned retroactively, ergo Sunday's win offers a first chance to stand atop the podium.

Gong was fifth at her home nation's 2008 Beijing Games, but nearly a decade later was elevated to fourth, then bronze, after the Belarusian silver and bronze medalists were disqualified in 2016 and 2017; in the meantime, she took fourth at the 2016 Rio Games and shortly thereafter was upgraded to silver after the disqualifications of the gold and bronze medalists.

SEE MORE: China's Gong, Song, USA's Saunders through to shot put final