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Gwendolyn Denise "Gwen" Berry (born June 29, 1989) is an American track and field athlete who specializes in the hammer throw. She also holds the world record in the weight throw with a mark of 25.60 m (83 ft 11 34 in) set in March 2017.[1] On June 8, 2018, she improved upon her mark to 77.78 m (255 ft 2 in), which ranks her as #5 on the all time list. She is a three-time national champion in the weight throw at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships. She was the gold medallist in the hammer at the 2014 Pan American Sports Festival. She is also the 2019 Pan American Games Champion.

Gwen Berry
USATF day 3 2018 (28107017887).jpg
Berry in 2018
Personal information
NationalityAmerican
Born (1989-06-29) June 29, 1989 (age 30)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
ResidenceCarbondale, Illinois
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight88 kg (194 lb)
Sport
Country United States
SportTrack and field
Event(s)Hammer throw
College teamSouthern Illinois University Carbondale
ClubNYAC & NIKE
Turned pro2011

CareerEdit

Early life and collegeEdit

Born to Michael Berry and Laura Hayes, she grew up in Florissant, Missouri and attended McCluer High School.[2] While there she was a basketball player but started taking part in track in the off-season and competed in the triple jump. She began studying for a degree in psychology and criminal justice at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2007. She took up throwing events for the Southern Illinois Salukis collegiate team and came fourth in the hammer throw at the 2008 USA Junior Championships.[3]

Her throwing improved the following year and she was the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) champion in the weight throw and shot put and reached eleventh in the former event at the NCAA Indoor Championships. In 2010, she earned NCAA All-American honours in the weight throw and shot put indoors and the hammer throw outdoors (taking fourth at the 2010 NCAA Outdoors).[3] That season she set bests of 16.30 m (53 ft 5 12 in) for the shot put, 20.48 m (67 ft 2 14 in) for the weight throw and 62.55 m (205 ft 2 12 in) for the hammer throw.[4]

Berry's international debut for the United States came at the 2010 NACAC Under-23 Championships in Athletics. She took the hammer bronze, behind Heather Steacy and fellow Salukis athlete Jeneva McCall.[5]

In her last season at Southern Illinois, Berry reached new peaks. A shot put best of 16.99 m (55 ft 8 34 in) brought her the MVC outdoor title and she later placed twelfth at the 2011 Championships.[4] In the weight throw she 22.71 m (74 ft 6 in) in Bloomington, Indiana, which placed her second in the world for the event that year behind Amber Campbell.[6] She entered as favourite for the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships, but performed poorly, ending in tenth, and commented that she was psychologically affected by being one of the smaller athletes there. Moving to the outdoor season, she threw a personal record to win the hammer at the Drake Relays.[7] Her mark of 70.52 m (231 ft 4 14 in) ranked her in the world's top 25 athletes for the year. Nerves again affected her at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships, as she failed to reach the final despite being the country's third best thrower that year, behind Jessica Cosby and Amber Campbell.[8]

ProfessionalEdit

After graduation she kept on competing, with a focus on weight throw in the indoor season and hammer throw in the outdoor season. At the 2011 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships she ranked sixth. In the 2012 season she came third in the weight throw at the 2012 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships. A new hammer best of 71.95 m (236 ft 12 in) came in April and she entered the 2012 United States Olympic Trials as the number two ranked American woman after Jessica Cosby.[4][9] She did not live up to her previous performance, however, and ended in seventh with a mark of 68.84 m (225 ft 10 in). Despite the failure, she was approached by New York Athletic Club, who encouraged her to join them and remain in the sport.[2]

Berry secured her first national title at the 2013 USA Indoors, launching the weight throw 24.70 m (81 ft 14 in) to beat out a field including Amber Campbell and Jeneva McCall.[10] She achieved a best of 73.81 m (242 ft 1 34 in) for the hammer that year, but again did not perform well at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, placing ninth.[4] She defended her weight throw national title in 2014.[11] The 2014 season marked her first foray into the international professional circuit and she ranked eighth on the 2014 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge.[12] She was seventh at the 2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, but was still selected for the Pan American Sports Festival. There, she came away with a gold medal in a season's best of 72.04 m (236 ft 4 in) and beat three-time world champion Yipsi Moreno of Cuba, whose career was an inspiration for Berry.[2] She enjoyed her highest world ranking that season, placing 17th overall.[13]

Berry skipped the 2015 indoor season and again competed on the circuit, placing tenth in the 2015 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge final standings (second only to Amanda Bingson among Americans).[14] Berry cleared seventy metres for the first time nationally at the 2015 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, but strong performances by Campbell, DeAnna Price and Bingson left her in fifth place overall.[15]

American recordEdit

At the start of 2016, Berry was dominant in the weight throw, winning four straight meetings with throws over 24 meters, including a third career win at the 2016 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, and ranking number one globally for the season. Her hammer throw was also much improved with consistent throws beyond seventy meters.[4] A best of 75.11 m (246 ft 5 in) in Memphis was shortly followed by a national record and North American record throw of 76.31 m (250 ft 4 14 in) at the Tucson Elite Classic.[16]

2016 US TrialsEdit

Gwen Berry placed second in hammer behind Team USA teammates Amber Campbell, ahead of DeAnna Price at 2016 Olympic Trials and represented   United States at 2016 Summer Olympics.

ProtestEdit

During the award ceremony in the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru where Berry was awarded the gold medal for the hammer throw, she raised her arm at the end of the playing of the Star Spangled Banner in protest against injustice in America "and a president who's making it worse."[17]Video on YouTube

Personal recordsEdit

Outdoor
Indoor

International competitionsEdit

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
2010 NACAC U23 Championships Miramar, United States 3rd Hammer throw 62.55 m
2014 Pan American Sports Festival Mexico City, Mexico 1st Hammer throw 72.04 m
2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 14th (q) Hammer throw 69.90 m
2017 World Championships London, United Kingdom 14th (q) Hammer throw 69.12 m
2019 Pan American Games Lima, Peru 1st Hammer throw 74.62 m
World Championships Doha, Qatar 10th (q) Hammer throw 71.72 m1

1No mark in the final

National titlesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ World Indoor All-Time List - Women. Track & Field News. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  2. ^ a b c Gwen Berry: Road to Success by E. Brown. E. Brown/Youtube. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  3. ^ a b Gwen Berry. SIU Salukis. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  4. ^ a b c d e Gwen Berry. Tilastopaja. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  5. ^ Berry, McCall earn top-three finishes at NACAC Under 23 Track & Field Championships. SIU Salukia (2010-07-11). Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  6. ^ Rorick, Jim (2011). 2011 World Indoor List - Women. Track & Field News. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  7. ^ Southern Illinois' Gwen Berry after winning the womens hammer at the 2011 Drake Relays. Missouri TrackFanatic/Youtube. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  8. ^ Rorick, Jim (2012). 2011 World Absolute List - Women. Track & Field News. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  9. ^ Rorick, Jim (2013). 2012 World Absolute List - Women. Track & Field News. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  10. ^ Former Saluki Gwen Berry wins USA Indoor Championship weight throw title. SIU Salukis (2013-03-09). Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  11. ^ USA Indoor Track & Field Champions Women's 20-lb. Weight Throw. USATF. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  12. ^ 2014 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge Final Standings Women. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-05-22.
  13. ^ Rorick, Jim (2015). 2014 World Absolute List - Women. Track & Field News. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  14. ^ 2015 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge Final Standings Women. IAAF. Retrieved on 2016-05-22.
  15. ^ USATF Championships - 6/25/2015 to 6/28/2015 Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore. Results. USATF. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  16. ^ Battaglia, Joe (2016-05-22). Gwen Berry Sets American Record in Hammer Throw. FloTrack. Retrieved on 2016-05-29.
  17. ^ Armour, Nancy (10 August 2019). "Opinion: US fencer, hammer thrower show principles with podium protests at Pan American Games". USA Today. Retrieved 11 August 2019.

External linksEdit