Discus Gold Medalist Shows Why Carbs Are for Winners

Valarie Allman went from background dancer to standing on the Olympic podium. She can thank years of consistent training. And spaghetti.

Discus Gold Medalist Shows Why Carbs Are for Winners banner

Main | Inspiring Olympic Physiques | Meet the Olympic Weightlifting Team | Shi Zhiyong's Dominant Lifting | Hidilyn Diaz Wins Gold | Olympic Sprinters Announce a New Era of Speed | Discus Medalist Powered by Spaghetti

A decade ago, Valarie Allman was a freshman in high school who moonlit on a touring dance program created by the choreographers of the reality TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance." On August 2, 2021, she won the first track and field gold medal for the United States in the 2020 Olympics.

What made the difference in this remarkable feat? Carbs. Or more specifically, spaghetti.

In her first of six throws, Allman uncorked an epic 68.98-meter discus toss on Monday, setting a mark no one else in the field—including herself—could match. Or in layman's terms, she threw something the weight of a pineapple 3/4 of the length of a football field. It's only the third U.S. gold medal in the event in the history of the Olympics, all the more impressive because it took place in a driving rain.

She told reporters that she found the ancient sport of discus when she was looking for a non-dance-related sport in high school. Eyeing track and field but unsure of which event to pursue, she noticed that the throwers were holding a spaghetti dinner that night.

"They said anybody that came to try throwing could come to dinner," she recalled. "But, gosh darnit, that was the best spaghetti I ever had. Looking back. I'm so thankful for it."

Allman found that her background as a dancer carried over remarkably well to the rotation-heavy mechanics of the discus throw. You can watch video of the throw here.

Those who follow Allman's IG can see her doing Olympic lifts and power cleans aplenty leading up to the games, but also practicing many, many throws. She has been a high-level discus specialist since coming in second at the World Junior Championships in 2014, although this is her first international victory.

The lesson for the rest of us: Carbs bring people together to forge community and lead them to achieve dreams they didn't even know they had. You can time your carb intake around your training if you're trying to stay lean, but if you need to be ready for anything on a moment's notice—like nailing your biggest throw on your first attempt—your chances are likely better on Team Carb than on Team "How Many Net Carbs Does That Carrot Have?"

Not sure if your intake matches your needs and goals? Dial in your macros with Bodybuilding.com's macronutrient calculator. You can also learn how to pick a carb intake that matches your athletic and physique demands in Bodybuilding.com's free Foundations of Fitness Nutrition series. Check out the video "Exercise and Nutrition: Fine-Tuning Food for Training" in particular.