100 days of Kansas City-area Olympians: Christian Cantwell, shot put

Beijing Olympics Athletics Mens Shot Put
Posted at 12:03 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 13:40:46-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lightly recruited in high school, Christian Cantwell was never a Missouri high school state champion or NCAA champion at the University of Missouri, but he went on to be a world champion, two-time Olympian and Olympic medalist in the shot put.

Cantwell grew up in Eldon, which is in central Missouri between Jefferson City and the Lake of the Ozarks.

During his Mizzou career, Cantwell was a six-time first-team All-American and the 2000 Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Freshman of the Year, but he found his greatest success on the international stage after turning pro.

He finished fourth at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in the shot put, fouling on five of six throws and missing a spot on the 2004 Athens Games team by one place.

Cantwell, who failed to mark at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, had won 14 consecutive meets in the shot put entering the 2004 Trials, including the first of three World Indoor Championships gold medals in March 2004 in Budapest and a personal record 73-11 1/2 earlier in June 2004.

He atoned with a second-place finish at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

The U.S. men were expected to dominate the shot put at the 2008 Beijing Games and all three, including Cantwell, easily made the final.

None were in medal position entering the final throw before Cantwell unleashed a put of 69 feet, 2 1/2 inches to claim the silver medal.

Four years later, he finished fourth at the 2012 London Games with a mark of 69-6 1/4, missing the bronze medal by less than two inches.

Cantwell is also a four-time U.S. champion indoors and three-time U.S. champion outdoors in the shot put.

With the Tigers, he finished seventh as a freshman in 2000 and third both as a junior and senior at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Cantwell also finished fifth as a sophomore in 2001 and as a junior at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He was the NCAA runner-up as a senior in 2003 (70-9).

Additionally, Cantwell qualified for the NCAA indoor championships in the weight throw, finishing as high as ninth on three different occasions (2000, 2001, 2003), and qualified for the NCAA indoor championships in the discus.

He won two more World Indoor Championships titles in the shot put in 2008 and 2010 and also claimed gold at the 2009 IAAF World Outdoor Championships.

Cantwell, who added a bronze medal at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships, is one of three Olympic medalists from Mizzou since 1960 along with Natasha Brown, née Kaiser, and J’den Cox.

Entering the Tokyo Games, he owns eight of the top 95 best marks all-time in the shot put.

Cantwell was inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.

The Kansas City region has a deep, rich history with respect to the Olympic Games. As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games approach with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for July 23, we will profile an athlete with ties to Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas each day.

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