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A World Record At Last For Ryan Crouser

It was only a matter of time.

With so many 22-metre throws to his name, and having moved up to equal third on the world outdoor all-time list and second on the indoor list, Ryan Crouser seemed destined to break a world shot put record sooner or later.

Making his first competitive appearance of 2021 at the American Track League fixture in Fayetteville – a World Athletics Indoor Tour silver meeting – the Olympic champion thankfully didn’t have to wait too long. With his first throw of the competition, Crouser blasted his 7.26kg shot out to the far side of the throwing sector and it just about landed on the edge of the matting.

After a few nervous minutes, the officials were able to confirm the distance: 22.82m*, an improvement of 16 centimetres on the world indoor record set by Randy Barnes back in 1989.

With additional mats now in place to help extend the throwing sector, Crouser threw 21.03m in round two and then once again sent his shot out beyond the old world indoor record with his third-round effort of 22.70m. His throws in the fourth and fifth rounds landed at a similar distance but both were fouls.

The 28-year-old rounded out his series with 22.48m – ‘just’ his third-best throw of the day, yet still a mark that only two other men in history have ever bettered indoors.

“It’s a pretty good start to 2021,” said Crouser. “It’s been a long road to get back to normal competition. I felt really nervous on the first throw, but I had a ton of energy. I feel like there’s more there.”

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Profile

Ryan Crouser
Born: 18 December 1992. Coach: Mario Sategna

Ryan Crouser was born into a throwing dynasty. His father Mitch was a 67.22m discus thrower and 20.04m shot putter who narrowly missed out on making the US Olympic team in 1984.

His uncle Dean was also a good all-round thrower with a shot put PB of 21.07m and discus best of 65.88m. Another uncle, Brian, was a javelin specialist with a PB of 95.10m (with the old model) and represented the USA at two Olympic Games.

Brian’s son and daughter, Sam and Haley, are also accomplished javelin throwers. Sam is a two-time NCAA champion with a PB of 83.33m while Haley held the North American U20 record at 55.22m back in 2012.

It’s little surprise, then, that Crouser ended up as a thrower. But there’s more to sporting success than just winning the genetic lottery.

When Crouser started out in athletics at about the age of 10, he was initially not quite as good as his older cousin Sam, but it wasn’t long before he started to make a name for himself on the US high school scene.

He set various high school records in the shot and discus and made his international debut at the 2009 World U18 Championships in Bressanone. He won the shot put with a championship record of 21.56m and took silver in the discus.

A foot injury prevented him from competing in 2010 but he returned to action in 2011, his last year as an U20 athlete, and set US high school records for the 5.44kg shot put indoors (23.54m) and 1.6kg discus (72.40m).

His accomplishments as a teenager earned him a scholarship with the University of Texas. The first 18 months of his collegiate career were hampered by illness and injury but he started to hit top form in mid-2013, setting a PB of 21.09m and winning the NCAA title.

He went on to win the NCAA indoor and outdoor shot put titles in 2014, and set PBs of 21.39m in the shot and 63.90m in the discus. A thumb injury meant Crouser wasn’t at his best in 2015, but he rounded out his collegiate career by taking the 2016 NCAA indoor shot put title.

Having completed his master’s degree in finance, Crouser turned professional at the start of the 2016 outdoor season and his progression continued. He won the hotly contested US Olympic Trials with a PB of 22.11m, beating then world champion Joe Kovacs.

But despite showing lots of promise that season, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games would be Crouser’s first major international senior championships and he’d be up against far more experienced competitors.

As it happened, though, Crouser rose to the occasion and dominated the competition. He improved his PB three times – 22.22m, 22.26m and 22.52m – on his way to securing the gold medal and produced the four best throws of the final. His winning mark was an Olympic record and moved him up to 10th on the world all-time list.

Crouser improved his PB to 22.65m to win the 2017 US outdoor title, but could only finish sixth at the World Championships in London later that year. In 2018 he reached a new level of consistency, throwing beyond 22 metres in nine of his 12 competitions that year.

That form continued throughout 2019 and he peaked at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. Unfortunately for Crouser, however, so too did most of the world’s best shot putters.

In what went down as one of the greatest competitions in the history of athletics, Crouser trailed defending champion Tom Walsh for the first five rounds after the New Zealander opened with a mammoth 22.90m.

Kovacs, who had been sitting in fourth place, unleashed a monster throw of 22.91m in the last round to take the lead. Crouser – having produced throws of 22.36m, 22.36m and 22.71m in the earlier rounds – sent his shot flying out to almost exactly the same spot as Kovacs, but it came up just one centimetre short of the leading mark and Crouser had to settle for second place with 22.90m.

Crouser moved to Fayetteville in 2020 to train with Arkansas throws coach Mario Sategna and help out with the university’s track and field team. And although the coronavirus pandemic meant no major championships were held in 2020, Crouser was still able to piece together one of the greatest seasons in shot put history.

He won all 11 of his competitions this year, three indoors and eight outdoors. He broke meeting records at 10 of those competitions and improved his PB to 22.91m. Within a 12-day span in September, he broke all-comers’ records in Poland, Czech Republic, Croatia and Serbia. No other man in the world threw beyond 22 metres in 2020, but Crouser surpassed the 22-metre line on 36 occasions – more than any other shot putter has achieved across a whole career span.

A 22.58m throw – just eight centimetres shy of the world indoor record – in December 2020 hinted that Crouser’s off-season training was going well. And he confirmed exactly that with his first competition of 2021.

“I’m still in heavy training,” he said after his world indoor record of 22.82m. “I’m excited to see what I can do when I start to taper and work on speed.”

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Stats

Crouser’s progression

2011: 19.48i
2012: 19.32 / 20.29i
2013: 21.09
2014: 21.39 / 21.23i
2015: 21.11 / 21.14i
2016: 22.52 / 21.73i
2017: 22.65
2018: 22.53
2019: 22.90 / 22.33i
2020: 22.91 / 22.60i
2021: 22.82i

World indoor record progression

22.26m Werner Gunthor (SUI) Magglingen 1987
22.66m Randy Barnes (USA) Los Angeles 1989
22.82m Ryan Crouser (USA) Fayetteville 2021

World indoor all-time list

22.82m Ryan Crouser (USA) Fayetteville 2021
22.66m Randy Barnes (USA) Los Angeles 1989
22.55m Ulf Timmermann (GDR) Senftenberg 1989
22.40m Adam Nelson (USA) Fayetteville 2008
22.31m Tom Walsh (NZL) Birmingham 2018
22.26m Werner Gunthor (SUI) Magglingen 1987
22.23m Ryan Whiting (USA) Albuquerque 2014
22.18m Christian Cantwell (USA) Warrensburg 2008
22.17m Tomas Stanek (CZE) Dusseldorf 2018
22.11m Reese Hoffa (USA) Moscow 2006

Most prolific 22-metre throwers

109 Ryan Crouser (USA)
39 Ulf Timmermann (GDR)
31 Tom Walsh (NZL)
21 Werner Gunthor (SUI)
20 Christian Cantwell (USA)
19 Randy Barnes (USA)
16 Joe Kovacs (USA)
14 Udo Beyer (GDR)
13 Adam Nelson (USA)
12 Darlan Romani (BRA)

(including ancillary marks)

*Subject to the usual ratification procedure

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