Randy Barnes

Charleston Gazette
July 27, 1996

Barnes wins gold medal on last throw

The Associated Press

St. Albans' Randy Barnes won the Olympic gold medal in the shot put Friday with a toss of 70 feet, 11 1/4 inches.

In Atlanta, U.S. teammate John Godina of Los Angeles won the silver at 68-2 1/2. The bronze went to Oleksandr Bagach of the Ukraine at 68-1.

Barnes, the 1988 silver medalist, won on his final throw, moving up from sixth place to leave a stunned Godina with the silver.

Godina was the favorite heading into the Olympics and was hoping for a double win in the shot put and discus. He took the lead on the fifth round of the shot with a toss of 68-2 1/2 and thrust his right arm in the air in triumph.

But Barnes, who lost the 1988 gold to East Germany's Ulf Timmermann on the final throw and missed the 1992 Olympics while serving a drug suspension, unleashed a toss of 70-11 1/4 on his last attempt.

Barnes, whose previous best throw in the competition was 66-8, leaped into the air and spread his arms wide in excitement. Godina, standing nearby, lowered his eyes to the ground.

"John had some big throws in the warmups today, so I feel lucky," Barnes said.

Barnes is West Virginia's first gold medalist since 1992, when James Jett of Shenandoah Junction won a gold medal as part of the winning 200-meter relay team.

Earlier Friday, Barnes, 30, the world-record holder, was fourth among the qualifiers with a toss on his third attempt. He fouled on his previous two attempts. Italy's Paolo Dal Soglio qualified first with a toss of 67-6 1/4. Godina was second at 67-4 and Germany's Oliver-Sven Buder was third at 67 1/2.

Barnes missed the 1992 Barcelona Olympics while serving a two-year suspension after testing positive for steroids, which he denies ever using.

The 1985 St. Albans High School graduate moved to South Point, Ohio, from South Charleston in January and began intensive training for the Atlanta Olympics.

Barnes threw 73 feet, 5 inches at a meet in Switzerland earlier this month, the best in the world this year. He holds both the indoor (74 feet, 4 inches) and outdoor (75-10 1/4) world records.