Rudy Winkler, who competed at Rutgers as a graduate student in 2018, broke the American record in the hammer throw with a massive 271-4 to successfully defend his title at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
The 26-year-old Winkler, who starred at Averill Park High School in N.Y. and was 2017 NCAA champ for Cornell, broke the American record of 270- 9 that was set by Lance Deal in 1996. Winkler's record-breaking 271-4 is No. 2 in the world this year behind the 272-3 that Pawel Fajdek of Poland threw on May 30.
After he opened the competition with a meet record 264-11, Winkler surpassed Deal on his second attempt. All six of Winkler's throws surpassed 261 feet as he won the title by nearly 11 feet. Daniel Haugh was second (260-5), and Alex Young (256-11) placed third to round out the squad that will represent the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled for July 21 to Aug. 8. Johnnie Jackson, a 2012 graduate of Cherry Hill East High School, placed 10th in the hammer with a throw of 226-4.
Winkler's 271-4 shattered the meet record of 262-10 set in 1992 by Jud Logan of the New York Athletic Club, and also broke the Hayward Field record of 271-2 that was set in 2004 by Japan's Koji Murofushi, who won the gold medal in the hammer at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and the bronze medal London Olympics in 2012.
Winkler, whose previous PR of 268-11 came at the USATF Grand Prix at Hayward Field this past April 24, finished 18th in the hammer at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
When he competes in Tokyo, Winkler will attempt to become the first American to medal in the event since Deal earned the silver medal in Atlanta in 1996.