Shot Diva

Shot Diva

Shot putter Michelle Carter is at the top of her game.

When Michelle Carter stepped into the throwing circle for her final heave at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the podium was within her reach; she was slotted to win silver. The distance to beat was 20.42 meters, held by two-time gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand. In her third Olympic appearance, Carter was ready and focused—and not willing to settle for second place.

Hey, this is it. You might as well go for the gold, she thought to herself.

Then she unleashed a throw of 20.63 meters that shattered the American record and made Carter the first U.S. woman ever to win gold in shot put. She also became the first American woman to stand on the Olympic shot put podium in more than 50 years.

“I couldn’t believe it happened,” she says. “It is great to let the world know the USA women are competitors internationally in [shot put] and are capable of winning major championships—it opens doors for other women to see that these things are possible.”

A Red Oak, Texas, native, Carter, BS ’07, Life Member, is already setting her sights on the IAAF World Championships next year in London. In 2015, she placed third. Looking ahead to her next feat, she speaks with confidence and energy.

“I believe I have more to give. I want to see how far I can actually throw the shot put,” she says. “The only person who can beat me is myself. Even if I don’t win that day, but I gave 100 percent, I still won.”

Carter trains in Dallas alongside her father and coach, 1984 Olympic shot put silver medalist and former San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Michael Carter. She credits her competitive drive to her father’s coaching and her parents’ support.

“They always pushed me to be my best,” Carter says. “They always said, ‘You have more to give,’ and I’d figure out how to get it done.”

While training for Rio, the duo started at 8 a.m. to beat the high Texas temps, beginning with throwing drills before heading to the gym to lift weights and do physical therapy. A typical training day for Carter lasts 12 hours.

But when she isn’t in the throwing circle, she explores her other passion: beauty and fashion. The champion athlete is also a professional makeup artist. Carter, 31, has always enjoyed incorporating her glam habits into her sport.

“It is a part of me and I take that with me,” she says.

Carter prepared for her gold medal-winning shot put throw just like any other competition: She relaxed and focused on the task ahead. The last step of her preparation routine? Applying her NYX Monte Carlo lipstick in bright matte red, her color of choice when she represents Team USA. Only then was she ready to throw.

“When you feel good and you look good,” Carter says, “you have the confidence to do your best.” It’s a motto she takes to every competition.

While on UT’s track and field team, she earned the nickname Shot Diva for her confident demeanor. The only shot putter on the team, her teammates initially called her Track Diva, but she quickly changed the nickname to reflect her sport, and it’s stuck ever since.

“In sports, you are taught that you are supposed to be rough and tough and you can’t dress pretty,” she says. “Putting on makeup is what I do when I get ready for church, an interview, or a special event to look my best. I like to carry that into my sport. I get my nails done, get put together, and get ready to go to work.”

Carter has combined her two worlds into a body-positive identity she hopes to share with young female athletes. Next February, she will launch her first young girls’ sports camp in Dallas focused on female athletic empowerment and body-positive messaging. It’ll be called You Throw Girl Sports Confidence Camp.

“As a female athlete, we don’t look like the average woman,” she says, of shot putters. We have more muscles; our thighs may be bigger or our shoulders may be bigger. I want to break down these stereotypes and teach girls that we can’t all be built the same.”

The camp will focus on healthy eating habits, the importance of stretching and weight lifting, and setting personal goals.

“If Gabby Douglas was built like me, she couldn’t flip, and if I was built like Gabby, I couldn’t throw,” she says. “I want them to learn to appreciate it and learn good habits.”

Michelle Carter prepares to throw at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Berlin in 2009; Photo by Texas Athletics

 

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