By Gary R. Blockus | Aug. 06, 2017, 5:37 p.m. (ET)
Joe Kovacs reacts after the men's shot put at the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships at the London Stadium on Aug. 5, 2017 in London.

 

Joe Kovacs, the 2015 world champion who finished behind compatriot Ryan Crouser at the last two U.S. championships and the Olympic Games Rio 2016, won a silver medal in the shot put at the 2017 IAAF Track & Field World Championships in London on Sunday.

Kovacs, who won the world title with a toss of 21.93 meters at the 2015 world championships in Beijing, fouled on his final throw in London when his toes brushed the top of the toe box on what could have been a gold medal distance.

New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh took the gold medal with a throw of 22.03, followed by Kovacs, who went 21.60, almost a meter short of his season’s best. Crouser, the Olympic champion, finished sixth.

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Kovacs, a two-time Big Ten Champion at Penn State University, and Crouser swapped national records during the USATF Outdoor Championships in June. Kovacs hit 22.35 on his final throw, and Crouser brought down the hammer on his final throw with a 22.65, which is the top throw in the world this season. Kovacs has the season's second-best throw with a 22.57, accomplished in May in Tuscon, Arizona.

A native of Nazareth, Pa., Kovacs’ silver medal matched his finish in Rio, when he finished behind Crouser. Fellow American Ryan Whiting finished seventh with a throw of 21.09. Crouser fouled on his first two throws of the final round.

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.