Reigning Olympic women’s discus champion Valarie Allman earned a bye into this week’s World Track & Field Championships thanks to her 2021 Diamond League overall discus title, but that didn’t mean she held back last month at U.S. nationals, where she captured her fourth consecutive U.S. title.
Allman aims keep the momentum rolling next week in her second appearance at worlds, where she’ll look to become the first American woman to win the world discus title. It’s not out of the question for the 27-year-old, who last summer in Tokyo became only the third American woman to capture Olympic gold.
“There was so much pure joy in that moment,” recalled Allman in a recent interview with NBC Sports. “All of the hard work, the sacrifice, the deferred dream, and finally that moment of a dream coming true and being an Olympic champion felt so good.
“And it also felt like such a weight off my shoulders. To have worked so hard for something, wanted it so bad, [to] be the favorite going into the competition, it was a lot to handle. I felt just so grateful that when that moment came, I was able to be at my best. And on the day, it ended up being the best overall.”
The Delaware native has some notable records on her side ahead of this week’s meet in Eugene, Ore., including the North American record of 71.46m (234 feet 5 inches) from this April at the Triton Invitational in San Diego, marking the world’s best throw in 30 years. She also owns the top eight discus throws on the U.S. all-time list and 14 of the top 15, with all the results coming in the last two years.
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Perhaps the most meaningful record that Allman holds is the Hayward Field record of 70.01m (229 feet, 8 inches), set at last year’s Olympic Trials in Eugene.
“Hayward is incredibly special to me,” she added. “In my athletic journey, I’ve gotten to compete here over 10 times. One of the first times was as a junior, making my first team, representing United States. And honestly, this last one — this past year at Olympic trials, setting the facility record, securing my first time as an Olympian, made to some moments that have deeply resonated with me and helped me find my footing as a professional thrower on the world stage.”
It won’t be easy, however, as Allman faces a loaded field that includes defending champion Yaime Perez of Cuba and four-time worlds medalist Sandra Perkovic of Croatia. The 32-year-old Perkovic, a two-time gold medalist at the Olympics (2012, 2016) and worlds (2013, 2017), is the only woman to have beaten Allman this season (at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, in June) and could become the first woman to win five world medals in discus.
But all comers must first get past Allman, who shared some lofty goals ahead of Eugene.
“Truthfully, Eugene world championships — I do want to win,” Allman said. “I think the next goal is, I want to compete at the best of my ability. In discus, 70 meters is kind of that mark that everyone talks about as really being absolutely elite. And I think if I’m in 70-meter shape, I’ll feel really proud of the result regardless of what color medal that I walk away with.”
The women’s discus throw begins with qualifications rounds on Monday, July 18, with the final set for Wednesday, July 20.
Current discus records:
- World record: Gabriele Reinsch, East Germany, 76.80 meters (252 feet, 0 inches), 1988
- World Athletics Championships record: Martina Hellmann, East Germany, 71.62 meters (235 feet, 0 inches), 1987
- Hayward Field record: Valarie Allman, United States, 70.01 meters (229 feet, 8 inches), 2021