AFTER 63 YEARS, AMERICA REACHES GOLD STANDARD
IN THE HAMMER THROW EVENT
By ELLIOTT DENMAN
DOHA, QATAR - It's been a 63-year-wait.
Remember 1956? Or might have read about it/heard about it/been told about it?
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was in the White House. Anthony Eden resided at 10 Downing Street, Congress passed the minimum wage act - and it was exactly one dollar an hour. An Oldsmobile "88" luxury sedan went for just under three thousand bucks, Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" topped the charts.
And, in the wake of the Hungarian Uprising, and the Suez Canal Crisis, the Olympic Games raged on in Melbourne, Australia.
These were the first Games ever held in the Southern Hemisphere and the Games held furthest into the calendar year - late November and early December.
The USA men's track and field team gave an amazing performance at Melbourne, running and jumping and throwing its way to a 15-gold medal performance, and one of those was Harold Connolly's victory in the hammer throw.
With 15 golds, that left just nine for all the rest of the world, an amazing factoid - but true.
Connolly's hammer win had been the first by an American since Fred Tootell in 1924.
And it has not been repeated since.
In all the years since Bostonian Connolly's win, just one American has even won a hammer medal at the Olympics. That was Lance Deal's silver in 1996.
The IAAF World Championships were first staged in Helsinki in 1983 and are now running their 17th edition here in Doha 36 years later.
The men's hammer throw, of course, has been on the Worlds program since the Helsinki beginning but no American has even come close to a medal. Ken Flax (seventh in 1991) and Deal (fifth in 1995) are the only Americans to even have made the top eight at Worlds all these years.
The women's hammer throw has been on the Worlds program since 1999 and no Americans had even come close to a medal from '99 to 2017, Anna Mahon (seventh in 2003), Jessica Cosby (seventh in 2009) and Jeneva McCall and Amanda Bingson (7-8 in 2013) have been the lone Americans to reach the top eight,
So we write all this as a prelude to DeAnna Price's magnificent, historic, wholly cheering win Sunday at Khalifa International Stadium,
The Missourian took the lead with a 76.87-meter throw in the first round, reached her eventual winning distance of 77.54 in round three, and had three more solid throws, 74.56, 73.77 and 75.68, to wrap up her great day. Poland's Joanna Fiodorow was happy with her 76.35 silver and China's Zheng Wang with her 74.76 bronze.
But DeAnna Price was incredibly overjoyed and brought to tears with her historic win.
She's a big woman, "strong and beautiful," as she puts, and downright proud of it.
Offered congratulations, she's often been known to express thanks with a big-league hug and a gentle lift off the ground.
It's the trademark that makes her a fan favorite everywhere.
Originally a softball player, she gave that up years ago "to give this track and field thing a go."
So just look at her now - "strong and beautiful", on top of the Worlds, and thus favored to win again at the Tokyo Olympic Games of 2020.
Yes, 63 years later, she's first American hammer thrower, male or female, to rule the planet since Connolly in 1956,
Connolly, who did much to popularize the hammer throw event in the years following his Olympic win, passed away in tragic accident in 2010.
But to those who knew Harold, he was surely smiling down from "up there" as events unfolded at Khalifa International Stadium on Sunday, September 28, 2019.