Hammer time! Former SIU star says America's ready to medal
The women’s hammer throw event in track and field has been dominated by countries like China, Poland and other European powerhouses for decades, leaving the United States in the back of the pack.
But a new group of American stars is working to swing things in the other direction.
One such thrower is former Southern Illinois University (SIU) star DeAnna Price.
Price, who graduated in 2016, recently qualified to represent Team USA in August at the World Championships in London.
“Right now we have three girls who are all throwing over 74 meters,” Price told the SW Illinois News. “That’s huge for Team USA. This is probably the deepest team that we’ve had for a world championship meet, and it’s completely amazing to be part of it.”
The London event will be Price’s third major international competition. In 2015, during her junior year at SIU, she competed for Team USA at the world championships in Beijing, placing 18th. Last year, she took eighth in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
No American woman has ever medaled in the hammer throw at a world championship, but Price said that could change this year.
“Hands down, this is our best chance to medal,” she said. “When I made the world championship team in 2015, my best throw was 72 meters. This year, the minimum throw to make the team was 72 feet, 8 inches."
Price is now in San Francisco, getting ready to take part in a Track Town Series meet. She will compete a few more times before heading to London.
“After San Francisco, I will be heading to New York City to compete in the Track Town championships,” Price said. “I am a volunteer assistant coach at SIU, so I will be training there as well while I prepare for the World Championships.”
Price said she is looking forward to going up against the best hammer throwers in the world.
“We have all really been building toward this,” she said. “Records are meant to be broken, and the U.S.A. is coming through the ranks to where we can compete with the dominant countries in hammer throw.”
Fellow former Saluki Gwen Berry qualified as well, thanks to her strong performance at the United States Track and Field Junior Championships.
“Great girls are coming through the ranks,” Price said. “There’s not a barrier anymore between the U.S. and the other top nations. You can keep striving and reach further and further. The sport is really growing here, and we want to prove we can compete.”
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