American did not consider herself sporty as a child but is now world champion after an inspirational throw in Budapest
It is the moment every athlete dreams of. Laulauga Tausaga-Collins stepped into the discus circle at the World Championships in Budapest on Tuesday (Aug 22) and with an inspirational effort improved her PB by just over four metres to win gold.
“I don’t know if I have a fairy godmother or something, or my ancestors had some say in it, but I was able to do something tonight that I didn’t think was possible yet,” said Tausaga-Collins, whose 69.49m earned her the title ahead of fellow American and favourite Valarie Allman, who threw 69.23m, with reigning world champion Bin Feng of China third with 68.20m.
Tausaga-Collins had finished 12th in the last two world championships in Doha and Eugene and here she began with a no-throw and then only 52.28m in the second round before improving to 65.56m in round three, another no-throw in round four and then her winning effort in the fifth before backing it up with 68.36m in the sixth.
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It was an amazing performance from an athlete who has had an extraordinary career so far. As a child she did not consider herself sporty but was cajoled into being active by her mother, firstly taking up volleyball and basketball before discovering shot put and, finally, discus.
“I just wanted to stay home and be a bookworm,” she remembered. “But my mum was like ‘no’.”
Born in Oahu, Hawaii, she moved to San Diego as a seven-year-old and then Iowa to study. “It was almost like a lucky streak,” the 25-year-old said. “Something would happen and every time it got sweeter and sweeter, where people invested in me and I was able to get further in life. I’m just so thankful for my mother, all the way to the coach I have now and everyone who has supported me through everything.”
With her Hawaiian background she was asked about the recent fires and said: “I’m constantly praying for them,” she said. “Pacific Islanders stick together.”
On her competition in Budapest, she added: “I was confident if I was on my A game I could sneak through into a medal place and not be 12th like I was in the last two world championships.
“I’m just so happy. It’s unbelievable to go from 12th to first. No one was expecting me and I just showed up.”
“I wanted to be the champion tonight, it is not a secret,” said Allman. “I have been training very hard, putting everything in for the victory. It’s tough when you are in a good form and you cannot reach the gold medal. But I feel so proud of being on the podium and a one-two for USA is also so special, to stand together with Laulauga.”
Further down the field, two-time world champion and Olympic gold medallist Sandra Perkovic was fifth with 66.57m.
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