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

Posted at 7:55 PM, Jul 31, 2021

China's Gon Lijiao launched a massive 20.58m personal best Sunday morning in Japan to finally 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 at the Rio Games, 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 and 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 while holding a photo of her two children.

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

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

"I really think I can break the 21-meter mark," Gong told reporters after the win.