“Finally, yes finally” it’s done. Ryan Crouser’s sigh of immeasurable relief on Sunday night could not have been deeper, even more fervent. Almost all merits that an athlete can dream of, regardless of the discipline, he had acquired. The American shot putter, who measures 2.01 meters and weighs 145 kilograms, was Olympic champion in 2016 and 2021 and holds the world records indoors and outdoors.
Two years ago, the second best of the season was almost a meter behind the giant, last year it was 75 centimeters and this year half a meter. But despite his unparalleled sovereignty, Crouser was still missing a big success: namely the title at a world championship, after he had “only” finished second in Doha three years ago. A centimeter had separated him from victory back then.
Crouser’s dearest wish has “finally” come true. And that in a place that he could not have chosen better to close his circle of success. At the age of twelve, he had contested his first competitions with the ball and discus on Hayward Field, the reconstructed World Cup arena at the University of Oregon. He grew up less than a two-hour drive north of the imposing Arena in Eugene. “Everything really went well today. The curse is defeated. I’m so happy, I’m the happiest person under the sun today,” Crouser let his emotions run free after the heroic deed was accomplished. His family cheered him on from the stands.
However, the 29-year-old didn’t do as well as he had hoped. Again he had to worry until the last attempt, until he could be sure of his first World Championship gold. His compatriot Joe Kovacs (33) proved to be a specter again. The beefy defending champion, who had finished second in Crouser’s victorious summer games, gave his long-time rival a strong blow in the neck in the fifth round when he took over the lead again with 22.89 meters, which he had briefly held after the first attempt.
But the local hero didn’t let himself be disturbed by the longer interruption he had to endure due to the final over 110 meters hurdles. With a powerful push, he maneuvered the 7.26-kilogram iron ball to a height of 22.94 m. No one in the 39-year history of the World Cup had hit it that far.
Among Crouser’s first congratulators was Ulf Timmermann, who congratulated his successor as world record holder and Olympic champion with a text message. “Congratulations Ryan, you are a true champion. I’m happy for you that you also got the last important title,” wrote the gold medalist from Seoul from his place of work in Dierhagen on the Baltic Sea, where the 59-year-old, despite the unchristian night time, did not miss the competition live to watch on TV.
With his world record of 23.06 m set in May 1988, the Berliner still ranks third in the all-time list of the best. Only Randy Barnes (USA/23.12 m) and Crouser with 23.37 m are ahead of him. He achieved the distance a year ago at the same place where he has now experienced his complete happiness.
Whether Crouser’s father, Mitch, who is also his trainer, still describes the new champion as “that Ryan is still a student of his challenge” remained unclear after his triumph. Mitch Crouser also describes his son as a nerd because he “works so meticulously and purposefully every day on improving his twisting technique, like no other person in the world.”
The son records every training session that the father cannot supervise with a drone and sends the film to his mentor for evaluation. The constant search for the perfect shot is what drives Crouser Junior, who as a child always wanted to be an astronaut “so that he could fly into space. But I got too big and figured I would eventually not fit on a space shuttle, so I got into athletics.”
For a member of the Crouser clan, the sporting passion is basically predetermined. Ryan’s grandfather, Larry, was a 70-meter javelin thrower who, despite serving in the Korean War, competed in the early 1950s. Father Mitch was nominated as a reserve discus thrower for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Uncle Brian competed among the five Olympic rings as a javelin thrower in Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992. Cousin Sam competed in the same event at the 2016 Summer Games. Cousin Haley holds the national record for the javelin throw. Finally, Uncle Dean was one of the best shot putters and discus throwers in the country. The boycott policy prevented him from starting at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.
“We have a lot of sporting tradition in our family, which I somehow feel obliged to,” said Crouser, who eats well every day to stay strong. His breakfast consists of two 8-egg burritos, bacon, sour cream, salsa, and cheese. For lunch he usually eats half a kilogram of minced beef with rice. There are sandwiches in the afternoon before he often has two hearty meals in the evening, with ravioli being one of his favourites. He treats himself to a snack before falling asleep.
How long Crouser would like to devote himself to life as a top athlete, he cannot say. In any case, he wants to win Olympic gold for the third time in Paris in two years. Another goal of his is to be the first person to throw the ball over 24 meters. He also plans to switch to discus throwing after his third Olympic victory. “I still have a lot to do, let’s see what else I can do,” said Crouser. Everything that happens now in his sports career is wonderful encores.