Photo Credit: Kelly Wallace/iVillage
With all the talk about swimming and gymnastics, you would think there just aren’t any other sports in the Olympics. That’s one of the many reasons I jumped at the chance to interview Michelle Carter, a 26-year-old two-time Olympian in shot put, the track and field sport where a metal ball is thrown as far as possible. Isn’t it great to give some attention to the athletes who don’t get the Time Magazine covers and the TV appearances?
Carter, who is absolutely lovely, chatted with me as she was treated to a patriotic pedicure (see the picture above) at the P&G Salon, which is part of a family home for athletes and their families during the Olympic Games. I learned her dad, Michael Carter, who is also her coach, is believed to be the only person to win a Superbowl ring (he played for the San Francisco 49ers) and an Olympic medal (he won the silver in shot put in 1984) in the same year.
So is Michelle following in dad’s footsteps? Maybe but as Michelle tells it, she “kind of stumbled on it.” When she changed schools, she wasn’t able to play basketball at her new school because she missed the physical. It was then suggested that she try shot put. She didn’t really know much about her dad’s athletic past, since it always seemed like he went off to “work” and then came home to be with her and her two siblings, she said.
When she told her dad she was going to try playing shot put, he started questioning her. “Did anyone pressure you to do this, and who told you to try out for the track team?” she recounted. “When I told him that I wanted to try it out, he was like, ‘Alright.’ And he said, ‘You know what you’re getting yourself into but since you want to try it, you’ll try it and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Carter, who is from Dallas, placed 15th in Beijing. Her goal for 2012? “I want the number one spot,” she told me. “I at least want to be on the podium but the main goal is the gold medal. “
Check out some more of my interview with the 2012 Olympian here:
Biggest Misconception About Her Sport: “I guess the one thing I get, a lot of people think that I am a shot putter, people think someone who is big and manly looking but that is not true. You can be a girl. I wear eye lashes and lipstick and everything when I compete because I am a girl first and I just happen to throw the shot put. So it doesn’t matter what you look like, or what you want to do, how big or how small you are, (if) there’s anything that you want to do, you can do it.”
Getting Ready on Game Day: “I do my nails, I do my makeup and I do all my hair stuff … I may get my nails done the day before depending on what I want. If I have a later day competition, I’ll do them that morning. So I do all that before, because I always believe if you look good, you feel good, you perform well.”
How Much is it a Mental Game for Olympians? “I think it’s 99.9% mental,” she said with a laugh, “because once you lose just a little bit of focus mentally, it will take away so much. And I think I felt that in 2008, when I’m looking in the stands and looking at all the people. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m here and look at all these people and they are actually cheering but now since I’ve been through that before, I can come back and (say) ‘Look, okay, this is like any other track meet for me, I compete against these same girls all the time … The venue’s different but when I step into my 7 foot 2 inch circle, and my shot put is 4 kilos, 8.8 pounds, that’s the same, that doesn’t change.”
Kelly Wallace is chief correspondent of iVillage and is in London covering the Olympics. You can follow Kelly’s daily live blogs from London and follow her Olympic tweets by following her on Twitter (@kellywallacetv).
The cost of Kelly Wallace’s travel to London and accommodation was paid by Procter & Gamble.