By Gary R. Blockus | Aug. 05, 2017, 4:29 p.m. (ET)
Mason Finley competes in the men's discus qualification at the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the London Stadium on Aug. 4, 2017 in London.

 

Mason Finley ended an 18-year medal drought in the discus for the United States by winning a bronze medal on the second day of the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London.

No American had medaled in the discus at the world championships or the Olympics since three-time Olympian Anthony Washington won the world title in 1999. Finley's bronze is only the third discus medal ever earned by an American at either the world championships or Olympics.

The 6-foot-8, 350-pound Finley made a career-best throw of 68.03 meters that came in the carryover opening round of the finals. He crushed his previous personal best of 66.72 set last year. He had earned a spot in the finals with a toss of 64.76 during Friday’s qualifying.

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Finley, a 26-year-old native of Kansas City and two-time U.S. champion, finished 11th at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. He uncorked his medal-winning throw on the second toss of the opening round to surpass his sixth-place standing heading into the championship round.

His previous best distance this year was 65.48 meters, set last month in Switzerland.

Lithuania’s Andrius Gudzius took the gold medal with a personal best throw of 69.21 to knock off top-seeded Daniel Stahl of Sweden, who hit 69.19. All three of the medal-winning throws came in the first round of the championship flight.

The field also included 2015 world champion Piotr Malachowski of Poland, three-time world champion Robert Harting of Germany, and 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.