SI Names Joe Kovacs One of the World's Fittest Athletes

Joe Kovacs, Penn State grad and two-time world shot-put champ, makes Sports Illustrated's "Fittest 50" list of international athletes.
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Penn State graduate Joe Kovacs heads to Oregon in June for the U.S. Olympic Track & Field trials, seeking to qualify for his second trip to the Summer Games. Kovacs will do so as one of the world's fittest athletes, according to Sports Illustrated.

Kovacs was named to SI's "Fittest 50" list, which seeks to identify the best-conditioned athletes in the world. The list includes athletes from track & field, water polo, sport climbing, swimming, hockey, surfing, soccer, MMA, ultra-running, and more. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was recognized, as was San Diego Padres slugger Fernando Tatis Jr. and MMA star Amanda Nunes.

Kovacs, the 2019 world shot-put champion, made the list after showcasing his elite strength recently. Kovacs (6-0, 295) posted an Instagram video of himself squatting 705 pounds for 10 reps, then maxed out at 870 pounds for four reps in April.

Kovacs, a two-time world champ, won the silver medal in the shot put at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. He has been living and training in Columbus, Ohio, under the guidance of his wife Ashley, a throwing coach at Ohio State.

Kovacs spent much of 2020 returning to his training roots. He worked out in his home gym and practiced throwing at a local middle school, recalling the days when he trained with his mother, Joanna Royer, in a high school parking lot in Bethlehem, Pa.

At 31, Kovacs views himself as a veteran in the sport. He recently returned to competition to begin preparing for the Olympic Trials.

"I would love to say I’m going to throw 80 feet, which would be four feet, past the world record, but that’s not what’s going to get me on the team and that’s not what’s going to get me a medal [in Tokyo]," Kovacs said in a 2020 interview. "So, if I'm going to keep on doing this and doing it right, I have to approach things as a veteran."

The U.S. Olympic Trials are scheduled for June 18-27 at the University of Oregon. The men's shot put will be held on opening day, with the finals scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PST.

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