Shot put to be held on Capitol grounds during USA Championships
Shot putters will give the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships a powerful boost when they compete for national titles on June 25 – not at Hornet Stadium, but on the public grounds of California’s state Capitol.
Extensive planning among USA Track & Field, Sacramento Sports Commission and California State Capitol officials led to the creation of the Capitol Shot. While the shot put has been contested in non-stadium settings in invitational and relay meets around the world, the Capitol Shot marks the first time it’s been done at the USATF Championships.
“Featuring the shot put at the State Capitol will give fans a chance to experience one of track and field’s most exciting events in an intimate and innovative setting,” USATF CEO Max Siegel said. “Our shot putters for years have been among our most fan-friendly performers and are always willing to step out of the box to bring their event the attention it deserves. We thank our partners at the Sacramento Sports Commission and the State Capitol for making this event a reality.”
Three-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist John Godina joined local officials in making the announcement Thursday on the west steps of the state Capitol. Godina, a former UCLA standout, won his first U.S. championship in Sacramento back in 1995, and he also qualified his second and third Olympic teams here at the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. He retired in 2008 as one of the decorated and respected figures in the sport and now owns and operates the John Godina World Throws Center in Phoenix.
“Holding the shot put at the Capitol will increase the visibility of the event and raises awareness of the USA Championships,” Godina said. “I have fond memories of competing in Sacramento, and I applaud the organizers for giving the throwers this historic opportunity. It should be a great show.”
Shot-put qualifying for the men and women will be held between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25, followed by finals between 4 and 6 p.m. – just when foot traffic outside the Capitol is heaviest.
Students in Sacramento State’s engineering department built the concrete ring that will be set near the sidewalk along 10th Street. The ring and the landing area will meet all national and international specifications. Typically, the men’s national title is won with a throw beyond 70 feet, while the top women throw between 62 and 66 feet.
The Capitol steps provide a built-in viewing section, and grandstands will be set up outside the throwing sector. There will be no admission to watch many of the world’s top throwers compete against the majestic backdrop of the Capitol dome. The Tower Bridge and the Capitol Mall are visible behind the throwers, a tableau that encapsulates Sacramento.
Following the Capitol Shot, the remainder of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships begins Thursday, June 26, at Hornet Stadium. The event continues through Sunday, June 29, on the Sacramento State campus. Tickets are available for purchase at sacsports.com.
Ryan Whiting, the top-ranked putter in the world last year, is the defending U.S. men’s champion with a personal best of 73 feet, 1¼ inches. His competition at the Capitol could include veteran Christian Cantwell, the 2009 world outdoor champion who has the world’s top outdoor throw this season of 71-8¼; Reese Hoffa, the 2007 world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist; and two of the newest members of the 70-foot club, Joe Kovacs and Texas collegian Ryan Crouser.
Michelle Carter is the top-ranked U.S. female shot putter. She set an American record of 66-5 in winning the USA title last June in Des Moines, Iowa. Michelle is the daughter of Michael Carter, a 1984 Olympic silver medalist in the shot who starred on the defensive line for San Francisco 49ers. Michelle Carter’s competition at the Capitol should include Tia Brooks and Brittany Smith, among others.
The Capitol Shot is perhaps the most prominent example of the Sacramento Sports Commission’s intent to add fan-friendly events to the USA Championships. A street pole vaulting exhibition was held last weekend in Old Sacramento, and a Billy Mills 10K Run will be held June 26 in conjunction with the men’s and women’s 10,000-meter finals at Hornet Stadium. This run also celebrates the 50th anniversary of Mills’ gold-medal run at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. The Golden West Invitational high school meet will be held June 28 following the conclusion of that day’s USATF events.