Penn State's Joe Kovacs Will Make His Third Trip to the Olympics

The two-time world shot put champion seeks his first Olympic gold medal in Paris.
Joe Kovacs throws the shot put at the 2025 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field in Oregon.
Joe Kovacs throws the shot put at the 2025 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field in Oregon. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Kovacs, the two-time world shot-put champion and 2011 Penn State graduate, is headed to his third Olympics, where he likely will duel yet again with fellow American Ryan Crouser.

Kovacs finished second to Crouser on Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, throwing a final-round best of 22.43 meters. That was plenty to land Kovacs on his third Olympic team with his biggest rival in the sport. But it wasn't quite eoughto top Crouser, who topped Kovacs for the past two Olympic titles. The duel certainly will continue in Paris.

Kovacs entered the Trials on an assertive run, having recorded the season's best throw of 23.13 at the 2024 Prefontaine Classic. Meanwhile, injuries prevented Crouser from competing at an outdoor event this season before the Trials. Crouser didn't need much runway, winning the Trials with a throw of 22.84 meters. Crouser cleared 22 meters on four of his six attempts in the finals.

Kovacs has been among the world's best in the shot put for nearly a decade. He won his first world title in 2015, followed that with a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and won his second world championship in 2019. Kovacs also has won two world silver medals.

Kovacs is one of the U.S. Olympic Team's more interesting stories. He and wife Ashley, who have twins, will go to Paris together to represent Team USA. Ashley Kovacs, the associate head coach for Vanderbilt track & field, will serve as the women's throws coach for Team USA at the Olympics. Ashley Kovacs also has been Joe's personal coach since 2019, helping him turn around a career that seemed frozen the year before. She was in Doha when Joe Kovacs won the 2019 world title by one centimeter.

After qualifying for the Olympics on Saturday night at Hayward Field, Kovacs called their trip to Paris a "family affair."

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich.


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Mark Wogenrich

MARK WOGENRICH

Mark Wogenrich is Editor and Publisher of AllPennState, the site for Penn State news on SI's FanNation Network. He has covered Penn State sports for more than two decades across three coaching staffs and three Rose Bowls.