CARBONDALE — Gwen Berry was inducted into the SIU Hall of Fame in January, but the school might have to consider reworking her plaque on the SIU Arena concourse.
Berry broke the indoor weight throw world record, held by another Saluki Hall of Famer, Brittany Riley, Saturday at the U.S. track and field indoor championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The St. Louis native, who competed at the Rio Games last summer in the hammer throw, broke the meet record with her first throw of 25.22 meters (82 feet, 9 inches). She went 82-8.5 on her second throw, and set the world record on her sixth and final throw at 25.6 meters (84 feet) to beat Riley's previous mark of 83-10.25.
"I didn't know what I had in me today," Berry said in an interview with FloTrack.org.
Former Saluki DeAnna Price, who set a personal-best with a throw of 79-8.75, took second place. Price's throw put her fourth on the all-time world list, according to U.S. track and field. It would have been good enough for a gold medal if not for Berry fighting through a back injury that nearly knocked her out of the competition two weeks ago.
"I wasn't even gonna come two weeks ago," said Berry, who pinched a nerve in her lower back and couldn't even stand up late last month. "I fought it out, and my coach told me that I was in good shape despite my injury, and I just fought it out."
Berry got a text from Riley earlier in the day, saying she wanted her to throw 84 feet. She delivered, and became one of four athletes to throw over 24 meters.