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In the shot put ring, Darrell Hill’s Rio experience goes full circle

By Andrew Eisch, USATF Communications

The road to the Olympics is a frenetic time for first-time Olympians. After weeks of uncertainty, Penn State graduate Darrell Hill will throw the shot put at Olympic Stadium in Rio, with his biggest fan in his corner.

After placing third with a lifetime best throw of 21.63/70-11.75 at the Olympic Trials, Hill began making arrangements to his first Olympics, including going through USATF Team Processing in Eugene, USOC Team Processing in Houston, and taking the transcontinental flight to South America.

Meanwhile, Darrell’s father, Ellis Hill tried to come up with a way to watch his son compete in person.

From an early age, Darrell cited his father as the motivator who pushed him to chase his dreams. But Ellis Hill was having difficulties raising the financial resources necessary to travel to Rio.

It wasn’t until an unlikely stranger discovered Ellis Hill’s story that his fortunes changed.

Working as an Uber driver, the senior Hill shared the remarkable story of his son, Darrell, with a passenger. Understanding Ellis’ need to fund-raise, the passenger created a GoFundMe page to fund Ellis Hill’s trip to support his son in Rio.

The funding page quickly gained donations from fans and supporters from around the country. In just two days, the page met the $7,500 goal, and would later put Ellis Hill in Rio to watch his son compete on August 18th in the men’s shot put finals.

"I was ecstatic," Ellis Hill told People Magazine. "I feel really grateful and overcome by the knowledge that there are good people out there."

Only 22 years old, Darrell Hill is entering his first Olympics after graduating from Penn State, where he placed second in a tiebreaker at the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships. After graduation, Hill continued his success, placing fourth at the 2015 Pan Am Games that July. His third-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Trials marked the next step on his athletic journey.

Entering the most significant track meet of his life, Hill enters as the fourth-ranked thrower in the world, behind two Americans, Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs.

Already in Rio, Darrell Hill’s mind is st on the event that he has prepared his whole life for. With the news that his father will be in the stands to support him, it’s additional motivation for him to succeed.

“I know he will be in the stands for me, so now i just have to take care of my business and perform my best,” Hill told ABC News.

Darrell Hill will celebrate his 23rd birthday on August 17th, one day before Olympic shot put competition. He hopes to wait until August 18 to celebrate, with the possibility of winning an Olympic medal the icing on the cake.

His father will be there to help him blow out the candles.

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