The road to Rio wasn’t an easy one for US World Champion shot putter Joe Kovas. Born in Nazareth, Pennsylvania in 1989, Joe lost his father Joseph to colon cancer when he was 8 years old. Joe’s mother, Joanna Kovacs, became a single mom. “All these years, it’s been Joey and me,” said Joanna Kovacs-Royer, who remarried last year. “I would do anything to make his life better.” And so she did.
When her son started high school at Bethlehem Catholic, and joined the track team, she became the school’s throwing coach. (She was a high school track and field star too.) Joe Kovacs went on to Penn State, where during his senior year (2012), he qualified for the U.S. Olympics Trials. He didn’t make it to London but after throwing the shot put 21 meters at the Trials, he was approached by a sports agent and Nike representatives. Kovacs moved to California to work with former UCLA throwing coach Art Venegas. Rio is Kovacs’ first appearance at the Olympics. His mother will be there cheering him on. Watch Kovacs compete in the shot put during the 2016 Summer Olympics Primetime coverage on Thursday, August 18 on NBC, beginning at 8pm.