Olympic Women’s Shot — Lijiao Gong Totally Dominant

Every one of Lijiao Gong’s 5 fair throws was good enough to win. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

SPECIAL DELIVERY WON’T BE NECESSARY for Lijiao Gong’s Olympic medal this time.

Gong was on the Tokyo podium, her first such Olympic honor, despite owning silver and bronze medals from her two previous Games. Those earlier medals — silver in ’12, bronze in ’08 — came well after the fact, the result of others ahead of her turning up doping positives.

Her position on the top step came after finishing with the 2 longest efforts of her career and the 5 longest marks of the competition. It seemed an appropriate place for the two-time reigning world champion.

Despite being defeated, Raven Saunders and Valerie Adams joined her on the podium and earned satisfaction with the silver and bronze medals.

The American, 5th in Rio as a 20-year-old, earned her first major medal with the best meet of her young career, while the Kiwi has delivered two children since the ’16 Olympics and now has 14 major medals.

It was impossible to miss Saunders, whose hair was died green on the left side and purple on the other. She alone donned a mask during the competition, à la the Olympic Trials. She duplicated her “Joker” mask during qualifying, then repeated with “The Hulk” for the final.

Casualties from the qualifying included Adelaide Aquilla of the U.S. as well as a pair of medalists from the Doha WC — Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd (silver) and Germany’s Christina Schwanitz (bronze). Also not advancing was Rio bronze medalist Anita Márton of Hungary.

Saunders’ renewed spirit was noticeable in the qualifying round, where she encouraged former training partner Jessica Ramsey, the OT winner, to advancing on her final attempt after two fouls.

In the final, Saunders got things started as the first thrower with a 64-footer, 64-5¾ (19.65). Except for her PR 65-6 (19.96) at the Olympic Trials it was her best of the year.

The front part of the throwing order was heavily tilted with potential medalists, as third-thrower Adams opened safely at 61-1¼ (18.62) and was followed in succession by Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo (63-3½/19.29) and Gong, whose nice opener of 65-5½ (19.95) would be good enough to win.

Those four would remain at the top of the leader board throughout the competition.

In round 2 Saunders went for broke, sailing the ball well over the 20-meter line (c65-7). But she couldn’t stay in the ring and it ended up a long foul and she remained in 2nd.

Adams improved to 63-11½ (19.49), moving into 3rd while Dongmo didn’t improve and Gong intentionally fouled a sub-par effort.

Round 3 saw Saunders and Adams pitch identical throws of 64-4½ (19.62). Dongmo didn’t improve, but Gong inched up to 64-11½ (19.98).

Ramsey was the most notable casualty from the first three rounds, fouling each time as the field was reduced to its final 8 with the requisite reordering.

Dongmo, who represented her native Cameroon in Rio, was the only one to improve in round 4, joining the 64-footers at 64-2½ (19.57), just 2 inches away from a medal. Despite two more strong efforts, that was as close as she’d get.

Adams didn’t improve, sealing her bronze with the first complete set of Olympic medals in this event (she has golds from ’08 and ’12 along with a silver from Rio).

The only fireworks left came from Gong and Saunders. In the fifth stanza the American unleashed a heave of 64-11¼ (19.79) to come within some 7 inches of Gong. Then the favored Chinese increased her margin substantially on the very next throw, a world-leading PR of 67-4¼ (20.53).

After Saunders had a round 6 foul, again around the 20-meter line, the gold belonged to Gong, the first for China in this event. She responded with another PR and world leader at 67-6¼ (20.58).

Gong, 32, had tears in her eyes after her PR in round 5. She explained, “When I got 20.53 I felt like I could win the gold medal, so yeah, I was pretty sure the championship was mine.”


WOMEN’S SHOT RESULTS

(August 01) (temperature 90F/32C; humidity 66%)

1. Lijiao Gong (Chn) 67-6¼ (20.58) PR (WL)

(65-5½, f, 65-6¾, 64-11½, 67-4¼ [WL], 67-6¼) (19.95, f, 19.98, 19.80, 20.53, 20.58);

2. Raven Saunders (US) 64-11¼ (19.79)

(64-5¾, f, 64-4½, 63-11½, 64-11¼, f) (19.65, f, 19.62, 19.49, 19.79, f);

3. Valerie Adams (NZ) 64-4½ (19.62)

(61-1¼, 63-11½, 64-4½, f, f, 61-6¾) (18.62, 19.49, 19.62, f, f, 18.76);

4. Auriol Dongmo (Por) 64-2½ (19.57)

(63-3½, 62-2¼, 62-10¾, 64-2½, 63-9¾, 63-9¾) (19.29, 18.95, 19.17, 19.57, 19.45, 19.45);

5. Jiayuan Song (Chn) 62-9½ (19.14)

(59-5, 62-9½, 61-5¾, f, f, 59-11) (18.11, 19.14, 18.74, f, f, 18.26);

6. Maddison-Lee Wesche (NZ) 62-3¼ (18.98) PR

(57-3, 60-5¼, 62-3¼, 59-7¾, 60-8½, 60-7¼) (17.45, 18.42, 18.98, 18.18, 18.50, 18.47);

7. Fanny Roos (Swe) 62-½ (18.91)

(59-¼, 59-1½, 62-½, f, 61-5, 61-6¾) (17.99, 18.02, 18.91, f, 18.72, 18.76);

8. Sara Gambetta (Ger) 61-11½ (18.88) PR

(60-3¼, 59-2¼, 61-11½, f, 60-7¾, 60-3¾) (18.37, 18.04, 18.88, f, 18.48, 18.38);

9. Aliona Dubitskaya (Blr) 61-5½ (18.73)

(58-3¼, 60-11¼, 61-5½) (17.76, 18.57, 18.73);

10. Yang Gao (Chn) 61-3 (18.67)

(60-6½, 61-3, 60-8¾) (18.45, 18.67, 18.51);

11. Portious Warren (Tri) 60-1¼ (18.32)

(59-1¼, 59-1¼, 60-1¼) (18.01, 18.01, 18.32);

… 3f—Jessica Ramsey (US).

first 3 rounds
Saunders 19.65* f 19.62
Warren 18.01 18.01 18.32¶
Adams 18.62 19.49 19.62¶
Dongmo 19.29 18.95 19.17
Gong 19.95* f 19.98
Dubitskaya 17.76 18.57 18.73¶
Ramsey f f f
Song 18.11 19.14¶ 18.74
Gambetta 18.37 18.04 18.88¶
Wesche 17.45 18.42 18.98¶
Gao 18.45 18.67¶ 18.51
Roos 17.99 18.02 18.91¶
rounds 4–5
Gambetta f 18.48
Roos f 18.72
Wesche 18.18 18.50
Song f f
Dongmo 19.57¶ 19.45
Adams f f
Saunders 19.49 19.79¶
Gong 19.80 20.53
final round
Gambetta 18.38
Roos 18.76
Wesche 18.47
Song 18.26
Dongmo 19.45
Adams 18.76
Saunders f
Gong 20.58¶

QUALIFYING (July 30; auto-qualifier 61-8¼/18.80)

Qualifiers: Gong 63-10¼ (19.46), Song 63-1¼ (19.23), Saunders 63-¾ (19.22), Roos 62-4½ (19.01), Dubitskaya 61-11¾ (18.89), Adams 61-9½ (18.83), Gao 61-8¼ (18.80), Dongmo 61-8¼ (18.80), Warren 61-6¼ (18.75) PR, Ramsey 61-6¼ (18.75), Wesche 61-2¼ (18.65) PR, Gambetta 60-11¼ (18.57);

Non-qualifiers: Danniel Thomas-Dodd (Jam) 60-3¼ (18.37), Christina Schwanitz (Ger) 59-4 (18.08), Katharina Maisch (Ger) 58-8½ (17.89), Emel Dereli (Tur) 58-5¼ (17.81), Sophie McKinna (GB) 58-5¼ (17.81), Klaudia Kardasz (Pol) 58-3¼ (17.76), Jessica Schilder (Neth) 58-2½ (17.74), Adelaide Aquilla (US) 58-¼ (17.68), Anita Márton (Hun) 57-8½ (17.59), Lloydricia Cameron (Jam) 57-2¼ (17.43), María Belén Toimil (Spa) 57-¼ (17.38), Markéta Červenková (CzR) 56-10¼ (17.33), Ahymará Espinoza (Ven) 56-4 (17.17), Olha Golodna (Ukr) 56-3¼ (17.15), Paulina Guba (Pol) 55-8½ (16.98), Sarah Mitton (Can) 54-6½ (16.62), Dimitriana Surdu (Mol) 54-3¾ (16.55), Geisa Arcanjo (Bra) 54-0 (16.46), Sopo Shatirishvili (Geo) 50-2¾ (15.31);… 3f—Brittany Crew (Can). ◻︎

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