RED OAK — With a classic smile, a double fist pump and a world record, Red Oak, Texas had all the material it needed to add a second throne beside former high jumping legend Louise Dorothy Ritter. Michelle Carter, a recent 2016 Rio Olympics gold medalist and Ovilla and Red Oak, Texas’ greatest female shot putter, rose from her throne to begin her road to London after earning a place on the World Championship Team on Sunday. A second gold medal could also help her keep pace with her father Michael Carter. He is a shot put gold medalist and a piece of San Francisco 49er lore.
"Mission Accomplished!!! I am happy to have made the 2017 World Championship Team," Michelle said via her Instagram account Sunday.
Michelle broke her own American Record with the Olympic Gold Medal winning toss of 20.63 meters on Aug. 12 after edging two-time defending champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand for her first medal. She also won bronze and gold at the 2012 and 2016 World Indoor Championships.
The 31-year-old thrower and University of Texas alumnus also placed fifth at the 2008 Olympic Games and fifth in 2012. Claiming a spot in 2020 London Olympics — the fourth of her career — could help her surpass the exploits of her father, too.
As an 18-year-old Southern Methodist University football recruit, Michael tossed a 12-pound sphere 81 feet and 3.5 inches at the 1979 Golden West Invitational in Sacramento, California. It was a throw dubbed as "the shot heard round the world" and one, if you look hard enough, can see first hand on the modern marvel that is YouTube.
He still owns that record today and set it after breaking the Texas high school record five times.
He has 10 titles under his belt, three University Interscholastic League 4A state championships and seven NCAA shot put titles while a Mustang at SMU. He also is the only athlete in history to win a Super Bowl (San Francisco, 1984-85) and an Olympic medal (Los Angeles Games, 1984) in the same 12-month period.
All Michelle did was become the first woman to medal in the shot put in 56 years.
“It has been a long time,” Michelle told the New Yorker a day before capturing gold. “And it’s something I think a lot of girls and women shy away from because it’s not looked at as something a woman would want to do or a woman should do. I think now, it’s like, ‘You know what? We’re girls and we can throw heavy balls and be in the dirt and we look good while we’re doing it.’ I think it’s bringing more attention to the sport and girls are realizing, Hey, I can do this and it’s OK to do this as a girl.”
As a Red Oak High School under current throwers Head Coach Hope Porter, Michelle earned the National High School records in the shot put. While Michael's 24.77-meter toss while a member of Dallas Jefferson High School topped the boys in 1979, Michelle's 16.73-meter (54 feet and 10.75 inches) topped the girls' national standings in 2003.
She also won back-to-back-to-back-to-back 4A state championships as a Lady Hawk — before almost literally juggernauting her way through the collegiate and professional ranks with a 2006 NCAA Indoor Championship and as a six-time USA Track and Field outdoor champion, and a two-time USA Track and Field indoor champion.
And strangely enough, Michelle was the first American female athlete to win the shot put since the competition began in jolly old England during the 1948 London Games. Earlene Brown was the last United States female competitor to medal since 1960.
Seemingly, that is where the legend intends to take her next step in her historical march. A proper showing at the World Championships could etch the second letter in the annals of golden antiquity. Another gold medal could also help the United States' tighten its stranglehold on the all-time gold (1,022) and total medal (2,521) counts.
"This is my fifth [World Championships]," Michelle exalted through her Instagram account. "I am excited to have the opportunity to wear the red, white and blue to represent Team USA once again!"
Marcus S. Marion, @MarcusMarionWNI