RIO DE JANEIRO – Like father, like daughter.
And a bit more.
Michelle Carter won the shot put gold medal Friday night at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games 32 years after her father, Michael, took the silver in the same event at the Los Angeles 1984 Games.
"Of course, I can't wait until I get the medal and I can walk around the house and say 'Daddy, I got you,'" said Carter, who will receive her gold medal in a victory ceremony Saturday.
Carter, the 2016 world indoor champion, broke her own American record on her sixth and final throw with a heave of 67 feet, 8 ¼ inches to defeat two-time Olympic gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand. Adams’ best throw was 67 feet as she and Carter dueled in Olympic Stadium.
“All I could do was just pray in that moment, ‘You know what, Michelle? You have to give it your all. This is it.’” Carter said.
The Carters became the first father-daughter combination from Team USA to win medals at the Games.
In her third Olympic appearance, Carter not only became the second person in her family to win a medal, she is also only the second U.S. woman to win a medal in the shot put, joining Earlene Brown who claimed the bronze in 1960.
After his Olympic appearance, Michael Carter became a pro football player and won three Super Bowl rings as a nose tackle with the San Francisco 49ers.
“I’m numb right now,” said Carter, who has been his daughter’s coach since she came to him in the seventh grade and told him she wanted to try the shot put.
“I said, ‘Who put you up to it?’” Michael Carter said, “‘because do you realize what you’re getting yourself into?’”
It was Michelle’s junior high coach, but Michael said he doubted the coach deliberately put Michelle in her dad’s old event.
“I don’t think they knew,” he said. “She didn’t know anything about it because we don’t have anything on our walls about what I did.”
His silver medal was then in a safe deposit box, though now it is in its final year on display at the San Francisco 49ers museum.
“They saw it,” Michael said of his children, “but I didn’t say, ‘Look what dad did.’ I showed it to them, ‘If you want to see an Olympic medal, here it is,’ and that’s it.”
Soon it will join the gold medal Michelle will receive.
According to Olympic historian Bill Mallon, 230 father-daughter combinations have competed at the Olympics, but only 26 have won medals. Fifteen father-daughters have competed for Team USA, but until Friday, they had never both won medals.
Carter was 15th at the Beijing 2008 Games, when she admitted she was “overwhelmed” by the entire Olympic experience, then was fifth in London four years ago.
The 12 finalists in Rio were introduced to the accompaniment of drumming from a samba band.
Carter opened with a throw of 62-8 ¾, surpassed only by Adams’ 64-11 ¼.
Carter then dug deep for a heave of 65-0 ½ to move into the lead, but Adams took it back with a throw of 67 feet.
At the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, in March, Carter handed Adams her first major loss since 2010, so she knew she could beat her.
“I think our competition always brings out the best in all of us,” Carter said.
Carter improved to 65-2 ¼ on her fourth attempt, but it still wasn’t enough for the gold.
“I knew I had more in the tank,” Carter said, “and to be able to go out there and put the pieces together and pull it out, I’m just really excited.”
Carter knew before her final attempt that she would win the silver medal – since only she and Adams had throws remaining – and she said that took some pressure off.
“But at the same time, I knew I wanted to win,” Carter said. “So I knew that last throw still counted, because the competition’s not over until the last person threw.”
When she saw the distance of her final throw, she thought, “Really?”
“That was a big throw,” Adams said. “You can never underestimate anybody, especially Michelle. She’s one of these people that can pop out anything, especially in the last round.”
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But so could Adams, though this time she came up short.
“I want New Zealand to know that I threw my heart out there today,” said Adams. “I threw a season best, the best I’ve thrown since 2014, so I cannot ask for more than that.”
She added that one aspect of sports is sometimes “you have to take it on the chin. I had a tough road to be here and to make it to the final and get a medal is pretty awesome.”
Adams is also part of an athletic family. Her younger brother Steven is the center for the Oklahoma City Thunder and two other brothers have played pro basketball in New Zealand.
Raven Saunders of Team USA placed fifth, coming through with a personal best on her final throw of 63-6 after four straight fouls.
Michael Carter said there’s no comparison between his daughter’s Olympic title and his Super Bowl rings.
“Winning a gold medal at the Olympics, you’re the best in the world at that time,” he said. “With a Super Bowl, you’ve got the chance to win it every year. This only comes around once every four years or once in a lifetime.”
So was he better as a shot putter or a shot put coach? “Since I coached the gold medalist,” Michael Carter said, “I guess a coach.”