13 November, 2019

"About 20cm further than I thought!"

  • © Gladys Chai von der Laage

In 2017, young US shot putter Darrell Hill shocked the sport when he snatched the Diamond Trophy away from Olympic champion Ryan Crouser with a monster effort in the sixth round. For the American, that career-changing performance confirmed a lifelong belief in what he calls "trusting the process".

Just 24 years of age at the time, Hill had already shown signs that 2017 was going to be a special year in his career when he marked a personal best of 21.91m in his first performance of the season. Yet come the Diamond League Final in Brussels city centre, he was by no means the favourite in a star-studded field which included Olympic champion Crouser, Diamond Trophy holder Tom Walsh and reigning world champion Joe Kovacs.

For five rounds at the Place de la Monnaie, it was Crouser who appeared to have one hand on the Diamond Trophy, as the rest of the field struggled to get close to his first round mark of 22.37. Struggled, that was, until Hill pulled out a jaw-dropping sixth-round effort of 22.44m, obliterating his own PB and wresting the title away from Crouser. 

"I thought: that's about 20cm further than I thought it would be, but I'll take it!" laughed Hill when speaking to the Diamond League earlier this year. Whatever the future holds for his career, claiming a major title with a PB in the sixth round will always be a highlight of his career.

For Hill, the performance didn't come as a surprise, but it did confirm his faith in what he calls "trusting the process". Having felt in fine shape throughout 2017, he claims to have been aware of his potential, even as he repeatedly fell short of the coveted 22-metre mark as the season progressed.

The fact that he eventually did clear the mark - and with the most important throw of the entire season at that - proved to Hill that if you keep doing the right things, the hard work will pay out.

That, he claims, is also true of his entire career. A keen basketball and American football player in his youth, Hill never dreamed that he would become a track and field star and compete at the Olympic Games. Yet a chance meeting with an athletics coach completely changed the direction of his life, and he has not looked back since. 

Since then, Hill has trusted the process, and his career has not only taken him to the Rio Olympics and to the very top of his sport, it has also secured him a high-quality education, and given him the chance to realise a major personal dream by meeting Barack Obama.

Watch the full interview with Darrell Hill below.