Men’s Shot Put: Ryan Crouser SHATTERS 31-Year-Old World Record

by Karl Winter
June 18, 2021

On the first day of the 2020 US Olympic Track and Field Trials at the newly-renovated historic Hayward Field in Oregon, an Oregon kid delivered a historic performance.

Ryan Crouser, the reigning Olympic champion, raised outside of Portland, obliterated the 31-year-old world record in the men’s shot put, throwing 23.37 meters (76 feet, 8.25 inches) to better Randy Barnes’ 1990 mark by 25 centimeters, or nearly 10 inches.

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Crouser had been chasing the shot put world record for the better part of two years, consistently throwing over 22 meters and getting over 23 meters for the first time in his career May 22. On a warm night in Eugene, he crushed it.

After Crouser broke the Olympic Trials meet record on his very first throw of the afternoon in 22.92 meters, the fifth-farthest throw of all time, fans were hanging on each put. In the fourth round of the finals, the moment they and Crouser had been waiting for arrived. The second the throw left Crouser’s hand, he knew. He thrust his hands into the air celebrating as the ball flew away from him. The only question was how far beyond the world record it would be.

Watch the throw here:

“I knew the strength and the power was there, so I just had to get it into the ball,” Crouser said. “So I went slow and set it up right, and you can see me celebrate. The moment it left my hand, I was celebrating.”

Crouser said Barnes’ suspect mark had been on his mind since he first started throwing the shot. We say suspect mark as three months after throwing 23.12 meters, Barnes was banned for 27 months for anabolic steroid usage. Eight years later, he received a lifetime ban after testing positive for androstenedione.

“I’d been chasing that world record for so long; it felt like a weight was lifted to finally get it,” Crouser said.

Crouser prepares to unleash his WR throw

After Crouser broke the indoor world record this year, throwing 22.82 meters to win the first American Track League meet in Fayetteville, Ark., the countdown to the outdoor world record was on.

Ever since Joe Kovacs upset Crouser by one centimeter to win the world title in Doha in 2019, Crouser has been on a tear, throwing 22 meters with regularity. In 2020, Crouser threw over 22 meters for the 100th time in his career. How good is that? No one else in history has thrown over 22 meters more than 39 times in a career.

For further perspective of Crouser’s dominance in the event right now, consider today’s competition. The United States also has the other two of the top three shot putters in the world this year, Kovacs and Darrell Hill. The best throw that Kovacs and Hill could manage between the two of them today was 22.34 meters. Crouser had seven throws and one foul today in the prelims and the finals. The worst of those seven throws was 22.55 meters, which would have won the competition by 21 centimeters.

Kovacs, who has thrown 22.72 this year, got through to the Olympics, finishing second with his 22.34 on his sixth and final throw of the finals.

“This is the hardest team to make,” Kovacs said. “We’re leaving home medallists, so this is such a great competition — obviously, world record in this competition, so you know we’re really excited to represent the U.S.”

Hill, a 2016 Olympian, was not so fortunate, missing the Olympic team by three centimeters. He threw 21.89 on his fifth throw of the finals, but then 25-year-old Payton Otterdahl, a North Dakota State product the 2019 NCAA indoor champ, stepped into the ring. Otterdahl unleashed a personal-best put of 21.92 meters and punched his ticket to Tokyo when Hill fouled on his final attempt.

“First time in the new Hayward Field, first Trials — I’m still trying to process what just happened. I’m ecstatic and I’m on top of the world right now. Hayward magic — it’s real,” said Otterdahl whose best NCAA outdoor finish was just 4th.

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