First Track & Field Medal for Team USA

By Emily Kaplan | Aug. 03, 2012, 11 p.m. (ET)

Reese Hoffa

When it comes to Team USA’s history in the shot put, Reese Hoffa is somewhat of a history buff. He knows those who have come before him and the great things they accomplished.

“I’m a big traditionalist kind of person,” Hoffa said. “I know we consistently win the world indoor championships, we consistently get medals at the Olympic Games. And I want to be a part of that history.”

Now, he is.

Hoffa won the bronze medal in men’s shot put at Olympic Stadium Friday night. The medal was the first for the U.S. track & field team in these Games. It also ensured that Team USA would extend its impressive streak, having earned a medal in the shot put at every Olympic Games since 1984.           

“It was a great competition for the gold,” Hoffa said. “It was incredibly tough and I am happy I got a medal.”

Hoffa led the qualifying round with a single throw of 21.36 meters before hitting 21.23 meters in the final, just 0.66 meters off the gold-medal effort of Poland’s Tomasz Majewski (21.89). The silver medal went to Germany’s David Storl, who logged a 21.86-meter throw.

Christian Cantwell, who won the bronze medal in Beijing, narrowly missed the podium, finish­ing in fourth place with a 21.19-meter toss. Rounding out the U.S. contingent in the final, Ryan Whiting placed ninth with his 20.64-meter effort.

For Hoffa, his first Olympic medal was a long time coming. The three-time Olympian com­peted in Athens, but did not advance to the finals, and placed seventh in Beijing.

After the 2008 Games, rumors began circulating that Hoffa – the 2007 world champion – was finished competing. Then, the 34-year-old had a resurgent year in 2012, where he recorded a world-best 22.00 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.

During Friday’s final, Hoffa admits he was somewhat affected by the cold weather and wait­ing period between throws.

“I wasn’t executing my technique the best I possibly could I knew there was a lot more there,” Hoffa said. “But at the end of it, I was very happy because if I would’ve walked away from these Olympics without a medal, I would’ve been even more disappointed.”

Hoffa hinted that this might be his last Olympic Games, but affirmed that he is not ready to retire from the sport just yet. He still has a few more throws in him.

“I’m an old dog,” Hoffa said with a laugh. “But hey, I came out of here with a medal. That’s pretty awesome. And not only did I walk away with a medal, but I continued that tradition of the U.S. getting medals and that’s even better.”

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