ROAD TO RIO: U.S. field team looks promising

Still frame from NBC Olympics video

Vashti Cunningham learned the sport of high jumping from her father, a former NFL quarterback. Joe Kovacs learned the sport of shot put from his mother, who never threw one in her life. Both will be going for Olympic gold in Rio this summer as part of the U.S. Track and Field team.

“Greatness is often achieved far from glamor. With no shot put facility at his high school, Joe Kovacs learned his craft in a parking lot,” NBC Sports reporter Todd Harris explained.

Kovacs’ mom was his first coach. She coached him throughout high school.

“She didn’t know as much about throwing as she does now, but she knew a lot about coaching, so she got as many resources as she could and she taught me along the way,” Kovacs said.

“Kovacs spun his unorthodox ingredients into a recipe for a World Championship in 2015,” Harris said.

The U.S. field team heading to Rio offers a lot of promise. Brittney Reese won gold in London in the long jump. Her teammate, Tianna Bartoletta, is the defending world champion.

Then there’s Cunningham. Her dad, Randall Cunningam, played quarterback in the NFL in the 1980s. His daughter “lit up the Indoor Track World Championship with a jump no one could beat,” Harris said.

The Opening Ceremony for the Rio Olympic Games can be seen August 5 on News Channel 8. News Channel 8’s Paul Ryan will be in Rio with live reports during the Olympics, which run from Aug. 5 – 21. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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