From Philly to Tokyo

From Philly to Tokyo: Joe Kovacs' Mom, Wife Key to Pa. Native's Success

Kovacs, a Lehigh Valley native, has his eye on the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics after winning silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics

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Two-time world champion Joe Kovacs is off to represent the United States in his second Olympic shot put competition, in Tokyo.

Kovacs, a Lehigh Valley native, has his eye on the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics after winning silver in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Here's a look at his journey from Bethlehem, Pa. to Tokyo, Japan.

Pennsylvania Roots

Kovacs was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. He has previously said that growing up in Nazareth gave him a humble beginning, and he remains thankful for the supportive community.

One of his favorite hometown spots is the Nazareth Diner where he loves to order the French toast.

In 2017, Kovacs moved to Ohio to be with his future wife, Ashley Muffet, who coaches at Ohio State University.

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Kovacs, who is considered one of the greatest shot putters of all time, has a chance at gold in Tokyo. One of his top competitors is Ryan Crouser, another member of the U.S. team.

The men's shot put final is at 11:05 a.m. JST on Thursday, Aug. 5, in Tokyo (10:05 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Aug. 4).


Kovacs won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Crouser won gold by almost a meter.

Kovacs also finished second in this year's Olympic Trials, falling to Crouser.


Kovacs won the greatest shot put final ever in 2019 with a final throw one centimeter ahead of the other leaders. His 22.91-meter throw was a personal best.

Ever see a big guy play with little Legos? Team USA shot putter Joe Kovacs gives Legos a try to explain his sport.

Family Life

Kovacs' father Joseph passed away when Kovacs was only seven after a battle with cancer. His mom, Joanna, played a huge role in his life both as a mother and a coach.

Joanna Kovacs was a 12-time district champion in high school in shot put, discus and javelin. When Kovacs and his friends started throwing shot put in high school to stay in shape for football, his mom got involved and started coaching them.


Kovacs attended Bethlehem Catholic High School, where he played football and was a member of the Track and Field team.

He went on to attend Penn State University where he finished as a four-time All-American and a school record holder. Kovacs graduated with a degree in Energy Business and Finance in 2012.


Kovacs is coached by his wife, Ashley Kovacs. He said the arrangement has huge advantages because she is the person who sees every moment of his life and knows how to keep him fresh and healthy.

"Being coached by my wife, some might think it would complicated, but for me it's better," Kovacs told NBC10.


In 2017, Kovacs partnered with Velaasa, a company that designs footwear, training gear and apparel for Olympic athletes. track. He is also sponsored by Duluth Trading Company, which sells clothing.

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