American Laulauga Tausaga-Collins took gold in the women’s discus at the 2023 World Athletic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Tuesday, giving the U.S. its first-ever world championship gold in women’s discus.
The Hawaii-born, who finished last in the previous two world finals, won this year’s event with a massive throw of 69.49 meters, improving her personal best by over four meters.
“I can’t tell you what it means right now because I still can’t believe it. I have all the feels and no words. It’s amazing!” Tausaga-Collins told USA Network. Another American, Valarie Allman, took home silver with a fourth round 69.23m throw and Feng Bin from China won the bronze.
25-year-old Tausaga-Collins, who thanked her fans on social media for their support, said she dedicates the title to her mother. While in high school, Tausaga-Collins said she wanted to stay home and be a bookworm but her mother forced her into sports.
“You are growing into a big girl. You’re getting very strong for no reason. We might as well put you somewhere,” her mom Aveaomalo told her, according to NBC Sports.
She tried volleyball and basketball, and while trying track she was told that she could instead throw a steel ball. Not attracted to track, Tausaga-Collins took that advice and ended up at the University of Iowa, where she started discus and has since not looked back.
In Tuesday’s event, CNN reported that she had a first round foul before throwing a disappointing 52.28m in round two. But she came back stronger, leading to her win.
“I don’t know if I have a fairy godmother or my ancestors had some say in it, but I was able to do something tonight that I didn’t think was possible,” Tausaga-Collins said, according to Reuters.
“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.
“It’s unbelievable to go from 12th to first. I just said to myself, ‘You need to let it out and if it fouls, then so be it’. But it sailed out to that big throw and here I am.”