DeAnna Price wins the Women's Hammer Throw at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 on Sept. 28, 2019 in Doha, Qatar.
DOHA, Qatar - There’s no question the women’s hammer throw is on the upswing in the United States as DeAnna Price won the gold medal Saturday night at the IAAF World Championships.
Price, the two-time national champion and American record holder, won the first medal for Team USA in the event for men or women on the world championships stage.
Price dominated the competition with three of the four best throws, including the winner of 77.54 meters on her third attempt.
Price, who won back-to-back NCAA titles at Southern Illinois University gave an Arnold Schwarzenegger-like muscle pose during the introductions, grinning broadly.
She earned the first hammer gold medal in a major competition for Team USA since Harold Connolly won the Olympic gold in in 1956 and Lance Deal won a silver in 1996.
Before every competition Price writes three questions and some tips on the inside of her left arm with a Sharpie.
“Today it was, ‘Relax my left arm, walk straight back and then keep my head back on entry,’” she said. “And then I write, ‘Who am I doing it for, why and what’s the purpose?’ I always say I ask those three questions and for me, that’s what keeps me going. The day that I can’t answer those three questions is the day that I retire from track and field.
The who is her husband. Price told Track & Field News that the purpose is to show “show that women are powerful, women are strong,” And her why is that she throws “for ‘we’ and not for ‘me.’”
Even though a Sharpie is a permanent marker, Price said the questions don’t stay on her arm long. “I sweat a lot,” she said, “so it kind of rubs off.”
But she had already taken the words to heart. Price delivered a first throw of 76.87 meters, which was farther than anyone else in the field has thrown this year. She raised her fist in the air. After all, Price, of St. Charles, Missouri, knew when she released it that it was good.
“But I knew they could come up behind me,” she said.
Joanna Fiodorow of Poland answered with a personal best of 76.35, which held on for second place, while Zheng Wang of China was third at 74.76.
After that first throw, Price said her husband, James Lambert, who is also her coach, told her, “Don’t stop. Keep going.”
“I went a little too hard on my second one,” Price said, “and then my third one, lined it up and smacked that 77. After that I got a little zapped, but it’s probably one of the best series I’ve had.”
On her sixth and final throw, Price already knew she had won, but still unleashed a 75.68-meter throw, which was better than every rival throw except one.
She fell to her knees crying, and then celebrated with an American flag, tears still in her eyes.
She didn’t know what was wrong with her. “I felt like I had a harness on,” Price said. “I couldn’t throw.”
She wondered if she had mononucleosis. Could she be pregnant?
“I was like, ‘It would be great, but at the same time, wrong time!’” Price said.
She finally got in touch with a chiropractor named Brian Murer who sorted her out.
“I give him so much credit because he got me back on track,” she said, “and I got a gold medal for the United States.”
Price, 26, came in as the world leader after setting the American record of 78.24 meters (256 feet, 8 inches) at the U.S. championships on her last throw. That made her the fourth-best performer in history. Brooke Andersen, who did not make the final in Doha, was second on the world list and Gwen Berry was third.
Unfortunately, Berry, the former national champion and former American record holder, had a frustrating outing Saturday. She failed to get the hammer out of the ring as all three of her attempts hit the net.
The hammer is a metal ball attached to a wire with a grip on the other end. In the women's event, the implement weighs 8.82 pounds (4 kilograms) and is 3 feet, 11 inches in length. The athlete spins several times before letting it fly.
Berry changed her technique after moving to work with new coaches.
“It’s really different, especially for a skilled event like hammer throw,” she said. “So I’ve just got to keep on working and obviously I don’t have it down pat yet.
“Imagine a glide shot putter going to a spin shot putter. That’s what I’m doing.”
After qualifying 10th for the final, Berry came into the competition with her lipstick more subdued than usual.
“One of my coaches told me, because yesterday I really didn’t compete well, it was just like, ‘Come different. Your makeup doesn’t need to be bold, your throwing does,’” Berry said.
“I still messed up.”
However, she was pleased that she finally made the the final after placing 14th at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and again at the 2017 worlds.
“So this was my step forward, but my step back was probably not getting the mark that I know I could get,” Berry said.
Price made her first world championships team in 2015 and her first Olympic team in 2016, placing eighth.
Now she’s the favorite for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, although she may have to contend with Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland, the two-time Olympic and four-time world championships gold medalist who had knee surgery and was not entered in Doha.
Berry said Price’s win “shows that U.S. women’s hammer throwing is coming along… and that’ll give everybody confidence to keep pushing forward and to keep getting on the podium.”