On the verge of elimination, Stephanie Brown-Trafton saved her best for last during the Olympic women's discus qualifying last Friday, unleashing the best throw of the round in her third and final attempt.
In Monday's finals, her first throw was as good as gold.
Brown-Trafton's opening heave of 212 feet, 5 inches (64.74 meters) at the Bird's Nest in Beijing, China held up for six rounds, giving Brown-Trafton a stunning and historic victory.
Now, two months after becoming Galt's first Olympic athlete, Brown-Trafton will return home next Monday as the city's first Olympic champion.
"I came to the Bird's Nest to lay a golden egg, and that's what I did," said Brown-Trafton, whose winning effort was the shortest throw to win an Olympic gold since the 1968 Mexico City Games.
"When you make the finals, anything can happen," she said. "I had a far throw, nobody stepped up, so I have the gold medal."
Yarelys Barrios of Cuba won the silver medal with a throw of 208-9, and Olena Antonova of Ukraine won the bronze with a season-best throw of 205-4.
Brown-Trafton won the first gold for a U.S. woman in the discus since Lillian Copeland in 1932 and only the second medal of any color since then.
The 28-year-old said she recognized that the win was a big deal - and not just for herself.
"I'm surprised we haven't won more gold," she said. "But you know what? I hope this sets a trend."
Brown-Trafton's triumph was the American track and field team's first of these Olympics.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" finally played when the 6-foot-4 Brown-Trafton stood higher than anyone on the medals stand. Yes, a tear or two came to her eyes, but mostly she just stood there smiling.
"It's everything I thought it would be," Brown-Trafton told her husband, Jerry, during a phone call early Monday morning.
"She's like a kid in a candy store, and she doesn't get excited about too much," Jerry Trafton said after speaking to his wife.
After her victory, Brown-Trafton paraded around the Bird's Nest wrapped in an American flag that was given to her for good luck by her neighbor George Kirbyson, an Air Force Tech. Sgt. who brought the flag home with him three years ago after a tour in Iraq.
"The night she left for Beijing, I told her I was giving her the flag because it brought me good luck, so maybe it would bring her good luck," an excited Kirbyson said from his home on Monday evening.
"She won the gold," he said. "Now the topic of the day is what happens to the flag now that we both have ties to it. Shared custody?"
There's no question as to whom the gold medal belongs.
To say this has been Brown-Trafton's breakout year would be an understatement of Olympic proportions.
Brown-Trafton made the 2004 Olympic team, but didn't advance to the finals in Athens. In the following years, there was little to indicate she would win gold. She only had two throws over 200 feet before this year.
Not great credentials, but none of that matters now.
In May, she gave notice that she could compete, throwing a personal best 217-1 at a meet in Salinas. It's the No. 3 throw in the world this year. She then placed third at the U.S. trials in June.
Considered a field filler more than a medal contender, Brown-Trafton seemed headed for another early Olympic exit after a poor first throw and a scratch on her second effort during last Friday's qualifying.
Down to her final attempt, she delivered the most clutch throw of her life, a toss of 205-11 that was tops in the round.
On Monday, Brown-Trafton was golden from the get-go.
Although she scratched on her second and third attempts, she remained in firstplace as the field was cut from 12 to eight after three throws. By the time she entered the ring for her sixth and final toss, the gold was hers.
"I saw the first throw and it was awesome," Jerry Trafton said. "I didn't think anyone could catch her.
"She made a name for Galt. People are going to know where Galt is now."
Notable Quotes"I came to the Bird's Nest to lay a golden egg, and that's what I did. I am surprised we haven't won more gold. But you know what? I hope this sets a trend."
- Stephanie Brown-Trafton
"I saw the first throw and it was awesome. I was pretty
ecstatic. … I thought 'she's going to do this. This is what she set
out to do and she's going to win a gold medal.'"
- Jerry Trafton, Stephanie Brown-Trafton's husband
"I definitely think we'll be doing something to honor her -
we're so proud for her bringing the name of Galt to the
- Barbara Payne, Galt city councilwoman
"I think it's awesome somebody from Galt made it on the big
- Sue Roberts, Galt High School board member
"She has a big heart for kids. I think she's real
- Randall Morton, Fitness Pro trainer
"It's very important for Galt … I think it will inspire others
to get into sports."
- Dereck Run, Galt resident
Olympic medals at a glanceThe Olympic medals incorporate the design of "bi-discs," which are ancient Chinese artifacts made thousands of years ago. The discs are made of jade and have a circular opening in the middle and are decorated with a dragon.
Each medal has a jade circle on its reverse side as well as the Beijing Olympics logo. On the medals' obverse or "front" there is a depiction of the winged goddess of victory Nike and the Panathinakos Arena. The medals are 70 millimeters in diameter, 6 mm thick and weigh about five ounces.
The Olympics did not have standard rules for its medals until 1978 when specifications were added to the Olympic Charter. Medals must now all have the same dimensions and be made of 92.5 percent pure silver. The gold medal has a plating that must weigh no less than six grams.
To determine the medal's design, Chinese Olympic officials and International Olympic Committee members reviewed 265 submissions from various states in China as well as companies in the United States, Australia, Russia and Germany.
The final design was picked on Jan. 11, 2007, and the job of minting the medals went to the Shanghai Mint. The mint used about 29 pounds of gold, nearly 7 tons of copper cathode and 1.34 tons of silver to produce the 6,000 medals for the Olympics. The metals came from Australia and Chile, and the jade came from China.
Based on the weight of a medal and the current price of silver at around $13.10 per ounce a medal is worth about $60, add in the gold value and it comes to around $210. (With gold at $799 an ounce.) However, the true value of a medal is much higher. Prior to the Athens games in 2004 Polish swimmer Otylia Jedrzejczack read a novel about a boy who died of leukemia. The story was such an inspiration for the athlete that she announced if she won a gold medal at the Olympics she would auction it off to raise money for children with leukemia. Jedrzejczack did win and sold her medal for $80,000, which she donated to a children's cancer hospital.