Joe Kovacs is the first shot putter to join the Rogue Athlete family. A 2-time Olympic Silver Medalist (2016 & 2020), two-time USATF Outdoor Champion (2014 & 2015), and two-time Gold Medalist at the IAAF World Championships (2015 & 2019), Kovacs is recognized as one of the most accomplished and popular figures in his sport. His name reached a new level of notoriety in 2019, when he clinched a narrow victory at the World Championships with a personal best throw of 22.91 meters . . .at the time, the longest recorded throw by any shot putter in nearly 30 years.
Joe was born in Bethlehem, PA, and was originally trained by his mother Joanna Kovacs, a former district high school champion in shot, discuss, and javelin. Honing his skills at Penn State, Joe became a four-time All-American while earning his degree in energy economics and petroleum and natural gas engineering. After missing out on a spot on the U.S. Olympic track and field team by a matter of inches in 2012, Kovacs re-focused and started his professional career, training under celebrated coach Art Venegas in California. This helped lead to a first Gold Medal at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, as well as a 2015 Diamond League Championship and the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where Joe won Silver. In the span of a couple years, Kovacs had increased his PR from 69 feet to 74 feet, putting him in an elite all-time class.
In 2017, Kovacs moved to Columbus, OH, to be with his girlfriend and eventual wife, Ashley Muffet; a throws coach at Ohio State. Ashley soon took on the role of coach for Joe, as well, and became his central inspiration as he overcame a lingering slump to re-emerge as a world champion in 2019.
After that, Kovacs had the 2020 Olympics in view, but the postponement of the Games to 2021 didn’t damage his enthusiasm or confidence. “Mentally, I’m probably doing better than most athletes, because I’ve been around and I’ve been at a low in my career and I’ve come back from it,” he said. Sure enough, Joe returned to the podium in Tokyo, taking his second Olympic Silver with a best throw of 22.65 meters.