LONDON – The U.S. is on the board in track and field, albeit slightly colder and lower on the podium than hoped.
With an evening cold snap in the mid-60s, the United States' powerful shot putting duo of Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell finished third and fourth, respectively, in the event Friday night, giving the Americans their first medal of what could be a huge track and field haul. Hoffa captured the bronze despite his throwing mechanics falling out of whack with dropping temperatures – the same fate suffered by Cantwell.
The two were considered medal favorites entering the event, and Hoffa in particular was seen as a potential gold medalist. Instead, Poland's Tomasz Majewski and Germany's David Storl finished 1-2, with scores of 21.89 and 21.86 meters. Hoffa finished at 21.23.
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"When I started off the competition, and started out at 20.98 [meters], the first thing that went through my mind was Daegu, [South Korea]," Reese said of his disappointing fifth-place finish in the 2011 world championships. "That's about how I started in Daegu. And then to back that up with another 20.95 [on his second throw], I was like, 'Snap out of it Reese. You've got to snap out of it.'
"Throughout the competition, I felt like there was always that puncher's chance that I would be able to hit a throw that might potentially win. Unfortunately, there was a lot of glaze [on the shot put]. I'm an old dog. Hey, I came out of here with a medal. That's pretty awesome."
It was Hoffa's first Olympic medal, and it also continued a string of podiums for the U.S., which now has had a medalist in the men's shot put for eight straight Games dating back to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. And had it not been for the constant starts and stops in London's cold weather, the performance might have been even better.
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All three Americans – Reese, Cantwell and Ryan Whiting – appeared to grow frustrated and cold with the delays. At various times, all three could be seen complaining about their mechanics, and Reese even donned his jacket prior to his final throw as he tried to warm up.
"I don't do well in the cold competitions," Cantwell said. "Unfortunately, I live in an area that's pretty warm, and to me, there was a lot of cold in there. I just couldn't stay warm.
"I gave it my best effort and it just wasn't enough tonight. There was nothing else I could do. I was ready. I was prepared. That's just the way it goes."
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