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The Women's Sports Alliance

PRESENTS...

USA's Maggie Ewen: Pushing Body Positivity and Shot Put Popularity

“It (shot put) is a sport which is not always the most body-positive and gets a really bad rap, but you don’t have to be a giant, or have a (stereotypical) ‘thrower-body-type’,” Maggie Ewen tells the WSA. “You just have to be a strong athlete and it’s empowering!”

Image courtesy of @magdalynmae (Insta)


A Diamond League Finals title and three NCAA champion trophies are among Maggie Ewen’s proudest possessions, but the shot putter believes she is capable of much-more.


When pushed, she smiles at the prospect of pushing for a podium place at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games; because evidence suggests the American has that level of potential.


In May Maggie threw a life-time best of 20.45m to beat reigning world champion Chase Ealey at the LA Grand Prix and go third on the USA all-time list.


It was also further than countrywoman Chase threw (20.43m) in the successful defence of her global crown this summer.


“What motivates me? It’s that lingering feeling that I haven’t accomplished what I believe I can,” Maggie says with a look of conviction.


“It’s not easy maintaining that optimism when you don’t achieve the distance you’re looking for, but I try to keep that (positive) mindset and the belief that I’m getting closer.


“I just want to throw further, be better than I’ve ever been and that has driven me since I was young.”



Switching sports and finding focus


As a youngster that focus centred on the sport of volleyball though, with track and field activities seen as simply something to pass the time during the volleyball off-season.


Towards the end of high school that changed and Maggie “fell in love” with the “technical complexity” field events offered.


She dabbled in Shot Put, Discuss and Hammer and while she still competes in the latter, the former is certainly now her main focus at the age of 28.


“I like how it’s 100% on you,” the athlete states. “There’s nothing your competitor can do to stop you throwing far, which means you can’t blame or hold anyone else accountable other than yourself.


“It’s pretty hard to describe what it feels like when you throw well and achieve success, but when your whole technique kind of lines up you get like this feeling off your hand when you flick the ball.


“You know then if it’s gone well and yes there’s excitement, but I think honestly the biggest feeling that comes to mind is relief that you’ve finally done what you thought you could!”


‘You win, or you learn’

Image courtesy of @magdalynmae (Insta)


After finishing an impressive fourth at the 2019 World Championships Maggie knew she had the potential to reach the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which took place in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


However, another fourth-place-finish – this time at the USA Olympic Trials – saw her not only miss out on a further podium, but also her national team for the Games in Japan.


Maggie was unsurprisingly “absolutely gutted” but insisted that despite her frustration she was “far from defeated” and immediately turned her thoughts towards Paris 2024.


“Those stumbles, those misses, you can let them fester and drag you down, or you can learn what you can from the experience and use it to make us better and stronger,” she tells the WSA.


“The strength in America is incredibly deep in shot put and now me and Chase (who also missed out on Tokyo 2020) have kind of like this extra fire under us because we've felt like we had something kind of taken away from us.


“If anything, it's actually probably pushed me to this point and to continue to better myself.”


‘Entertainment’ crucial to athletics’ future


While Maggie’s passion for the sport is clear she is aware that athletics often struggles attain large-scale popularity outside of major events and particularly in the USA.


“It (shot put) has always been kind of that outlier sport and when you tell people ‘I do track and field’ they always ask ‘oh, so what do you run?’ and that’s unfortunately something we've just kind of had to live with,” the American admits.


“I would love to see it grow in popularity and I'm hoping that people like Ryan Crouser (USA double Olympic champion) or Chase (two-time World champion) bringing home to back-to-back gold medals will improve awareness and excitement for the next generation.”

Image courtesy of @magdalynmae (Insta)


Maggie heads into the 2023 Diamond League finale off the back of claiming bronze at the penultimate event of the season.


She feels the series has an important role to for field athletes and the future of the sport, particularly when it comes to growth in the USA.


“I think having Worlds (IAAF World Championships) here (in Eugene, USA) last year helped bring more awareness and more attention to track and field,” Maggie states.


“Hopefully bringing something like the Diamond League final, which is always a little bit more tailored to entertainment and has that ‘wow’ factor is what the Americans really need to get invested into track and field to see it’s an exciting thing.


“The Diamond league circuit is also incredibly important because it brings a lot of intention to our sport and frankly, it brings a lot of money for us.


The shot putter continues; “There are not as many opportunities for us to compete throughout the year as say the 100m runners or hurdlers, so the Diamond League gives us the same opportunity and brings attention to our sport.”

Image courtesy of @magdalynmae (Insta)


‘Shot put takes self-confidence and self-awareness’


As determined as Maggie is to see more fans engage with her sport, she is also aware that throwing disciplines have something of a historical image problem, particularly when it comes to perceptions about and attitudes towards women in the sport.


“It (shot put) is a sport which is not always the most body positive and gets a really bad rap, but it’s empowering,” tells the WSA.


“I think recent generations have begun to show you don’t have to be a giant, you don’t have to have a (stereotypical) ‘thrower-body-type’ you just have to be an athlete, who is strong and powerful.


“Having that self-confidence and self-awareness is what it really takes to be a good thrower.”


Where might Maggie’s confidence take her? Unsurprisingly she sees Paris as an ideal target next year, but she is taking it “one-step-at-a-time.”


Image courtesy of @magdalynmae (Insta)


“My coach and I always say it's about making the team first,” she insists to the WSA.


“It’s about getting onto that team, wearing that uniform, getting to Paris and then, like I said earlier, just going to try and throw our farthest and put our best foot forward on the day.


“Personally, it’s not necessarily like ‘I want to win this medal’ it’s always that I want to be better than I’ve ever been, but hopefully doing that puts us in a position where we’re walking away with a medal.


Maggie concludes; “With this group of girls being so talented and so young, who are constantly improving, you just have to give it your all and hope that puts you in a place to walk away proud of what you’ve achieved, regardless of the result.”

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