Joe Kovacs and Brittney Reese served notice that they are ready to challenge for medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by winning their Diamond League events Friday evening at the Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Kovacs won the men’s shot put with a season best throw of 22.13 meters. The reigning world and Diamond League champion moved into the series lead Friday, pushing his total to 14 points. That was enough to vault him pass Kurt Roberts, who came to Eugene with the series lead but placed out of the points with a throw of 20.13 meters, which left him in eighth. Reese Hoffa, a three-time Olympian who won bronze at the London 2012 Olympic Games, finished third with a mark of 20.58 meters.
Establishing himself as a medal favorite in Rio, Kovacs’ effort was the world’s best this year. He has the top two throws of 2016 after surpassing his previous season best of 21.47 meters, recorded April 23 in La Jolla, California. Friday’s toss ranks 18th in outdoor shot put history. The Penn State graduate won the Pre last year with an almost-identical mark of 22.12 meters.
Reigning Olympic champion Reese showed she is in excellent form as she prepares for U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field, which will be held July 1-10 in Eugene. She won the women’s long jump with a season-best 6.92 meters, the world’s third-best outdoor effort this season. The two-time outdoor world champion surpassed Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic by 0.04 meters for the win, also moving into a tie with Spanovic for the Diamond Race lead. Janay DeLoach finished sixth at 6.59 meters, while Tianna Bartoletta, who won the event last year, was seventh with a best effort of 6.48 meters.
Competition continues at Hayward Field Saturday, beginning with the men’s triple jump at 12:15 p.m. PT.