If you had explained my season to me a year ago, I would’ve taken it with open arms, says SA shot put star Kyle Blignaut
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CAPE TOWN - BEING among the top six shot put athletes in the world at the age of 21 is an “awesome achievement”, says South African star Kyle Blignaut.
The giant from Pretoria took his international reputation to another level with a powerful display in the Tokyo Olympics shot put final on Thursday.
The world junior champion in 2018, Blignaut knows what is required to be competitive at the top of the sport, and his pedigree showed as he went toe-to-toe with world record-holder Ryan Crouser of the United States, his American teammate Joe Kovacs and New Zealander Tomas Walsh.
Blignaut was nearly knocked out of the competition in the early stages as he produced a first-round effort of 20.29m, but followed it up with a foul, which meant that he needed a big distance in his third round to ensure he is in the top eight positions, in order to have three more attempts.
And he did just that, heaving the 7.26kg metal ball to exactly 21.00m to move into fifth spot. He was unable to go further, with 20.96m, 20.46m and a foul in his last three rounds as he finished in sixth position.
As expected, Crouser grabbed the gold medal to successfully defend his title from Rio with a new Olympic record of 23.30m – just 7cm shy of his own world record – with Kovacs second with 22.65m and Walsh third with 22.47m.
“If you had explained my season to me a year ago, I would’ve taken it with open arms. Me and my coach (Pierre Blignaut, no relation), we are very ambitious, so every time we achieve a goal that we’ve set out, we always set new goals immediately,” Blignaut said afterwards.
“So, the day before yesterday, the goal was just to make the finals. And out of the blue, the goal was to try to get as close to a medal as possible. But I think I’m happy with the finish for today.
“I think shot put is at an all-time high at the moment, so to be in the top six in the world at a major championships, I feel like that is an awesome achievement. You can’t complain, doing that at a young age, so I’m pretty happy with the achievement.”