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Chasing Gold, Olympic Shot Putter Michelle Carter Opens Up About ADHD and Dyslexia

By Geri Coleman Tucker on

Michelle Carter is one of the top shot putters in the world. She’s a two-time Olympian and a seven-time U.S. champion. Currently, she’s ranked No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 3 in the world. And she’s determined to win gold at the 2016 Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

But Carter, who calls herself the “Shot Diva,” is equally happy and passionate talking about dyslexia and ADHD as she is about her success in track and field. She hopes her story of success will encourage others with learning and thinking differences.

“Talking publicly about my ADHD and dyslexia is something I’ve never been shy about,” says Carter, who is a powerful advocate for dyslexia and encourages kids and their parents whenever she can. “I tell them you can do whatever you set your mind to—you just may do it differently. You may have to work a little bit harder, but you can do it.”

That’s the lesson her parents taught her after she was evaluated and diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD in grade school. “I was definitely a handful back then,” she recalls. “I could not sit down long enough to study and to learn.”

Carter says once teachers understood that she learned differently, she got the help and support in school that she needed. She also received tutoring three to four times a week for reading, writing and math. And it paid off. By middle and high school, she was getting good grades.

As she improved in school, Carter also found a passion in track and field. She excelled at shot put and at 15, made the U.S. National Team. After graduating from high school, Carter was awarded a full track scholarship to the University of Texas. She earned her degree in Youth and Community Studies with a minor in kinesiology.

Carter’s passion has remained the shot put. “Once I realized I could do a sport I loved and have a career that would let me see the world, I was in,” she says.

This August, Carter is heading to the 2016 Rio Games. It will be her third Olympics. She placed 15th in Beijing (2008), then improved to 5th place in London (2012). “My big hope is to win the gold medal,” she says. “I want the third time to be the charm.” Her chances are good—she has the third-longest shot put throw in the world this year.

Carter’s success is especially meaningful for her father, Michael Carter. He’s the only person to have ever won an Olympic medal and a Super Bowl ring in the same year. Michael won a silver medal in shot put in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Shortly after, he was drafted into the NFL by the San Francisco 49ers, which went on to win the Super Bowl that year.

Yet Carter says her father didn’t push her to choose shot put as her sport of choice. “I grew up with my dad playing football,” says Carter, who wasn’t even born when her dad competed in the Olympics. “He wanted us to choose our own career paths.”

That path has led her to branch out in new and unique directions. In 2010, she started You Throw Girl, a program aimed at building the confidence of young female athletes. Carter is also a makeup artist and has founded her own professional makeup company. “I’ve been able to accept who I am—and a big part of that is I’m creative,” muses Carter.

Looking back, she attributes her success to her parents and to her faith. “I don’t know what else lies ahead, but my faith is everything to me,” says Carter. “God has given me the ability to do all things through him.”


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