Joe Kovacs
2016-06 Kovacs Bislett.jpg
Kovacs in 2016
Personal information
Full nameJoseph Mathias Kovacs
Born (1989-06-28) June 28, 1989 (age 33)
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Height6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight295 lb (134 kg)
CountryUnited States
SportTrack and field
Event(s)Shot put
College teamPenn State (2008–2012)
Coached byAshley Kovacs
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)
  • Shot put:
  • Outdoor 22.91 m (75 ft 1+34 in) (Doha 2019)
  • Indoor 22.05 m (72 ft 4 in) (Geneva 2021)

Joseph Mathias Kovacs (born June 28, 1989) is an American track and field athlete who competes in the shot put and has a personal record of 22.91 meters outdoors and 22.05 meters indoors. He won gold medals at the 2015 and 2019 World Championships. He won silver medals at the 2017 World Championships, 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympics. His personal best of 22.91 metres ties him for the fourth best competitor in the shot put event. Since college he was coached by Art Venegas, widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the world and the only coach to have athletes reach 73' with both the glide and rotational techniques in the shot put. Since 2019 he has been coached by his wife, Ashley Kovacs.

Before attending Penn State, he excelled in high school and won PIAA titles in the discus and the shot put during his senior season. The winning shot put mark of 64 ft 10.75 in (19.7803 m) is the PIAA Class AA state record.[1]

Personal life

From his paternal side is of Hungarian origins and from his maternal side of Italian.[2] Kovacs was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1989. He was raised in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, by parents Joseph (deceased 1997) and Joanna Kovacs. He is a 2007 graduate of Bethlehem Catholic High School. Kovacs attended Penn State University and graduated in 2011, majoring in Energy Business and Finance. He is of Hungarian ancestry. He is married to former collegiate shot-putter and Vanderbilt throwing coach Ashley Kovacs (Muffet). In 2019 Ashley also began coaching Joe professionally.[3]


Kovacs, in his first year as a professional, was sponsored by Nike, Inc. He missed the podium with a 4th-place finish in the United States Olympic Trials with a best throw of 21.08m/69-2, placed 4th at the NCAA Division I outdoor championships with a best throw of 19.58 m (65–1.5 feet), but won the shot put at the Big Ten Conference outdoor championships with a best throw of 20.85 m (68–5 feet). He enjoyed a success filled summer on the European track circuit with 2nd in Paris (20.44 meters, 67–0.75 feet); 2nd in Madrid (19.56 meters, 64–2.25 feet) and 6th in London (19.61 meters, 64–4 feet).


Kovacs, in his second year as a professional, threw a season best of 20.82 meters (68–3.75 feet)[4] at Tucson Elite Meet on May 18, 2013 which ranks him 6th in the US.[5]


Kovacs won the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix with his first 70-foot throw. He then placed 3rd at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships with a throw of 70 ft 5.5 in (21.476 m).[6] On June 25, 2014 Joe Kovacs won the 2014 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at a special venue in front of the California State Capitol, with a personal best of 22.03m (72' 3.5"), the top throw in the world for 2014.


As a guest competitor at the UCLA hosted Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational on April 11, 2015, Kovacs improved his personal best (though not a stadium record) with a 22.35 m (73 ft 3+34 in)[7] to again take the early season world lead, by almost a full meter at the time. It was the farthest throw in the world since 2010 and ranked him as the No. 12 performer of all time.[8] He backed that up with his following throw over 21.70 m (71 ft 2+14 in). After winning his second National Championship in June, Kovacs improved again, adding another 21 cm to throw 22.56 m (74 ft 0 in) at the Herculis meet in Monaco.[9] That throw moved him past four Americans to the number 8 performer in history and the best throw since 2003.


On July 1, 2016 Kovacs qualified for his first Olympic team by finishing in second place at the Olympic Trials. He then won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics with a throw of 21.78 meters (71' 5.5"). He finished behind teammate Ryan Crouser, who threw an Olympic Record 22.52 meters (73' 10.5").[10]


On Oct 5, 2019 Kovacs won the Gold Medal at the Outdoor World Championships with a 22.91 meter Shot Put on his final throw of the event. He was coached by his wife and they are featured in an Olympic Channel feature commercial together.

See also


  1. ^ Joe Kovacs Bio – Penn State Official Athletic Site Archived September 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on May 28, 2015.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Joe and Ashley Kovacs: The making of a human cannon".
  4. ^ Athlete profile for Joe Kovacs. Retrieved on May 28, 2015.
  5. ^ USA Track & Field – 2013 Top USA Outdoor Track & Field Marks – Men. (December 30, 2013). Retrieved on May 28, 2015.
  6. ^ USA Track & Field – Joe Kovacs. (June 28, 1989). Retrieved on May 28, 2015.
  7. ^ UCLA Rafer/JJK Collegiate Invitational – 4/10/2015 to 4/12/2015 Archived July 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Shot Put – men – senior – outdoor. Retrieved on May 28, 2015.
  9. ^ Shot Put Result | Herculis. Retrieved on August 19, 2016.
  10. ^ "Rio 2016 shot put men Results - Olympic athletics".