China’s Gong Lijiao won the women’s shot put gold in a personal best 20.58 meters on Sunday under blistering conditions at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium as the United States’ Raven Saunders picked up silver and New Zealand’s Valerie Adams claimed bronze.
Gong, the winner of 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships, showed no loss of form as she came in to Tokyo and picked up her first-ever Olympic gold in her fourth Games.
The top-ranked 32-year-old, who previously won silver in London and bronze in Beijing but missed out on the podium in Rio de Janeiro, let out a roar as she retained her claim as the sport’s best.
Shot put’s 36-year-old grand dame Adams proudly displayed a picture of her two children after the competition, as she capped a remarkable comeback to return to the top level of her sport following the birth of her son in 2019.
She had already made history on Sunday as the first athlete to compete in five different Olympic shot put finals and as New Zealand’s first woman to compete at five Olympics in track and field.
The affair kicked off amid Tokyo’s notoriously fierce heat as a track side thermometer in the open, placed about 50 meters from the finish line, touched 40 degrees Celsius and the humidity hovered around 60 per cent, with sun beating down on the fan-free Olympic Stadium.
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The day was not without its misfires as American Jessica Ramsey, among the favourites after clinching her countries June trials, was out of the competition after fouling on her first three attempts.