THE QUESTION TO DeAnna Price in the aftermath of her recordbreaking evening in the hammer was about Gwen Berry’s anthem protest, but Price’s answer gave a snapshot of the mindset that led her to becoming the second woman in history to break 80m (262-5).
Greatness is easier to attain in any endeavor when life lines up.
“I want everybody to be happy, I want everybody to be who they are and who they want to be,” Price said in what amounts to a mission statement on her existence. “If you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, if you love what you’re doing and love what you’re seeing, I’m good, I’m happy for you, I support anybody who wants to be happy.
“Finding your way in life, you do you. It’s a good thing. When you wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, it’s about not having any regrets. And let me tell you something, I don’t have any. I hope every athlete has that same voice in their head. My message is body image, love. I want people to be happy, that’s all I can ask for, being happy.”
Price comes across as a permanently happy type but her day in Eugene would have pleased anyone. She broke her AR on her third throw with a 262-5 (79.98), then nailed a 263-6 (80.31) on her fifth attempt, joining Poland’s Anita Włodarczyk in the 2-member 80-meter club.
“The first throw [255-4/77.82] set the tone, then each throw you try to build each rep to get a little further each distance,” Price said. “Whenever I hit the 79 — it was .98 — my husband [coach JC Lambert] was like, ‘Two centimeters.’ ‘I know!’ It was pretty mind-blowing.
“The next one was a foul and he said, ‘You have more in that tank. You know that, right?’ ‘Yeah, I think I do.’ I don’t even know what my next mark was, all I saw was 8-0. ‘I threw over 80m!’ Oh my God, it was mind blowing. My mind is just, ‘pow!’, it’s just insane.
“To even be in the same sentence as Anita, is… holy moly. She’s just this amazing athlete, throwing 82.98. Me throwing over 80m, oh wow, this is pretty crazy. Even being in the same territory, to be the second woman to throw over 80, it’s an honor just to be next to Anita’s name.”
Getting there was perhaps dicier than most people realize. Price, who had a recent diagnosis of celiac disease, suffered a mysterious illness — not C19 — in late April, at one point losing 12lb (5.5kg) in a week.
“I was just sick as a dog,” Price said. “There were points I was asking my husband, ‘How am I going to make this team?’ Luckily this past month I’ve been working with my physical therapist a lot.
“We’ve been doing dry needling, a lot of massage therapy. Any little pain I’d get, he’d hold me together with bailing wire and duct tape, that’s what we called it.
“It took me a month and a half, two months to come out of whatever was shaking me. I was indicating 80m in April, then I got really, really sick. I remember in Tucson, I threw 75 [248-11 for 3rd], I felt terrible. My husband was saying, ‘Let’s go back to the drawing board, we have to figure this out.’”
She got it figured out by June, setting her up for her biggest hour, with American Records Nos. 5 & 6 (see chart). Once she got in the ring, the focus went to having fun. Price’s game face is a big smile. (Continued below)
“That helped me stay calm,” she said. “I was so nervous, ‘Smile, belly breathe.’ If I try to be too intense I can’t relax. Me smiling was being so nervous and so excited at the same time.”
Then she moved herself to tears.
“I could look up and see my grandpa,” Price said. “My family has lost so many people to COVID, my grandpa almost died. He was here today, he watched me throw. I have such a fantastic family. When you wake up in the morning surrounded by these amazing people, it’s not me, it’s we.
“I could not be who I am without these people who impacted me in my life. This world is hard enough, but when I step in the ring I can smile because it’s not just me in the ring, it’s us. I can feel that love. Let’s do this, I want to make you guys proud.”
Price’s efforts in Eugene served to set up a new, obvious question and created a new, obvious goal: Włodarczyk’s 272-3 (82.98).
“It is on my whiteboard, it’s in the sights,” Price said. “Today it didn’t even feel like a really good throw. That’s where it gets crazy. There’s more in the tank, there’s more you can do. My goal is to get ready, gear it up. It’s about staying healthy, keeping your mind clear, it’s making sure you take every day for what it is. That’s where I will hopefully one day get close to that record.”
She’s already closing in.