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Valarie Allman ’17 wins first track and field gold for team USA in the women’s discus

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Stanford alum Valarie Allman ’17 emerged as the women’s discus throw champion in her Olympic debut last Monday. And she did it with one formidable throw.  

Allman came to Tokyo ready to win. The only finalist to throw past the 70 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, she was a strong contender in the discus throw and she didn’t disappoint. She stormed into the lead by throwing an impressive 68.98 meters in her very first throw, beating the silver medalist by over 2 meters. 

The competition paused for an hour after the first round due to an unexpected downpour. Despite the disruption, Allman’s strong first throw secured her gold despite fouls in her second, third and final attempts. She threw 64.76 meters on her fourth throw and 66.87 meters, the third-longest throw of the night, on her fifth throw. 

Germany’s Kristin Pudenz and Cuba’s Yaime Perez won the silver and bronze medals, respectively. 

Allman became the first athlete to score a podium finish for team USA in track and field events at this year’s Olympics. And that isn’t the only reason her gold is historic: Allman is now one of three American women discus-throwers to win a gold medal in the history of the Olympics. Her win is the first gold in women’s discus since Stephanie Brown-Trafton in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The discus thrower previously broke records when she threw a record-breaking first throw at the Iron Wood Throws Center Invitational in Idaho. Allman threw the discus 70.15 meters — the first time in a decade a discus thrower crossed the 70-meter mark, making her the American discus record holder. This throw remains her personal best.

Allman majored in product design at Stanford. She was a six-time All American, a two-time Pac-12 champion and Pac-12 Woman of the Year in 2018 as a member of the University’s track and field team. She is also a three-time U.S Champion and represented the U.S. at the 2019 Doha World Championships, where she placed seventh. 

Allman is currently taking a break from her master’s degree in communications to focus on training and competing full time. Reflecting on her win, Allman said, “I couldn’t be any happier or proud. I’m still waiting for my feet to touch the ground,” in a post-interview.

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Saaniya Makandar is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Summer Journalism Workshop. Contact them at workshop 'at' stanforddaily.com.