EUGENE, Ore. — Channeling his inner David Letterman, Ryan Crouser has his own Youtube channel, “Getting’ Smashed with Ryan Crouser,” in which the Olympic shot put champion takes on pop cans, canned pumpkin pies, and a gingerbread house with a 20-pound sledgehammer.
The channel’s title is equally fitting for the Oregon native’s last two seasons in which records — meet, field, American, World — are no more safe from Crouser’s devastating aim than a Christmas ornament.
That’s right, nothing is sacred with Crouser.
Crouser opened the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field Friday night with a performance of Beamon and Bolt-esque proportion, shattering the world record and becoming the first man in history to throw the 16-pound implement beyond 76 feet.
The former Texas NCAA champion added nearly a foot onto Randy Barnes’ 31-year-old world record with a 76-foot, 8¼ inch bomb, ending a quest that began on this same venue as a fifth grader.
“It still hasn’t settled in all the way,” Crouser said. “I’ve been after this record for a long, long time. I didn’t know how much that weighed on me. It was like there was a huge weight lifted off me as soon as the mark went up (on the scoreboard).”
Crouser, 29, was so dominant that he won what was arguably the greatest shot put competition in history by a mind boggling three feet. For the first ever, five men threw over 71-7 2/3 in the same competition. There were a combined 14 throws over 70 feet, six of them coming from Joe Kovacs, the two-time World champion and silver medalist to Crouser at the 2016 Olympic Games. Kovacs on his sixth and final throw.popped a 73-3 1/2 effort, a mark that would have won the gold medal at every Olympic Games other than Rio de Janeiro.
Yet Friday Kovacs was barely in the same area code as Crouser, who surpassed 74 feet on four of his five legal throws, the fifth sailing a mere 73-11¾.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Kovacs said. “It’s a new era for the shot put.”
Crouser’s triumph also erases a world record that has long been viewed with skepticism. Barnes was suspended for 27 months in 1990, the same year as his outdoor world record, after testing positive for banned substances. He was banned for life in 1998 after a second doping violation.
Crouser has passed 10 drug tests conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency this year.
“It’s a 100 percent clean world record in the shot put,” Crouser said.
Barnes’ world record of 75-10 ¼ from May 1990 has been on borrowed time since at least 2019 with Crouser and Kovacs as well as New Zealand’s Tom Walsh all appearing capable of topping the mark.
Crouser in December 2019 relocated to Fayetteville from Chula Vista, taking a job as a University of Arkansas graduate assistant. But when the university shut down its campus in March because of the coronavirus, Crouser was without a place to train. Well for at least a night. The morning after the shutdown, he went shopping at Home Depot and built a ring behind a nearby grade school.
“For under $60,” Crouser said.
He went on to go undefeated in all 10 of his meets in an abbreviated season, posting 36 throws over 22 meters (72-2 ½) and four past 74 feet, the most in history.
Crouser claimed the first of Barnes’ two world records this past winter, taking down the indoor mark with a 74-10½ throw in Fayetteville . He threw 75-6 in March, the third best throw in history, and Barnes’ outdoor standard was on the endangered species list.
“Every time he competes you expect him to break the world record,” said Payton Otterdahl, who finished third Friday with a personal best of 71-11.
Crouser spent his lunch hour Friday smashing the meet and field records with a 75-2½ effort in the qualifying.
“Qualifying went perfectly,” Crouser said. “I knew I was in good shape, knew a big throw was there.”
Six hours later he opened with a 74-2¼ , essentially ending the competition, and then on his fourth he launched a blast that had seemed world record bound in mid flight, Crouser throwing his arms up in triumph before it even landed.
“I knew it was good,” Crouser said. “I was celebrating almost as soon as it left my hand.”
Throwing runs in the Crouser family. His father Mitch was fourth at the 1984 Olympic Trials in the discus. His uncle Brian was an NCAA champion for Oregon and two-time Olympian in the javelin. Another uncle Dean was an NCAA champion in the shot and discus for the Ducks.
Ryan Crouser was in fifth grade when first threw at Hayward Field in a Junior Olympics meet. He began throwing a few months earlier as a 10-year-old, pretending in practice that he beat Barnes in record-setting fashion.
“I would go ‘new world record’ and hold my hands above my head,” Crouser said laughing. “It feels really good to do it for real after doing it a thousand times (in my head).”
NOTES—Six-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix, competing for Athleta in her final Olympic Trials, advanced to the semi-finals of the 400, winning her first round heat in 50.91 seconds. New Balance’s Kendall Ellis, a former NCAA champion for USC (51.02), and UCLA’s Shae Anderson (51.32) also advanced.
Nike’s Michael Norman, another NCAA champion for the Trojans, won his men’s 400 heat in 45.18.
USC’s Isaiah Jewett won his 800 first round heat in 1:47.83. Former Palos Verdes High and Stanford standout Rebecca Mehra moved on in the 1,500, placing fourth in her first round heat (4:13.71).
U.S. OLYMPIC TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS SATURDAY
When/where: Saturday/Eugene, Ore.
Finals: Women’s 100 meter final, discus.
TV: Qualifying rounds, 5 p.m., NBCSN, Livestream, Peacock; Finals, 7 p.m. NBC, Livestream.
What to watch for: Seven Americans have run under 11.00 seconds this season including Sha’Carri Richardson (10.72) and Twanisha Terry, the NCAA runner-up for USC (10.89). Also keep an eye on former LSU standout Aleia Hobbs (10.91) and Gabby Thomas.. Hobbs swept the 2018 NCAA and U.S. nationals 100 titles. Thomas, the former NCAA 200 champion for Harvard, won Friday’s opening first round heat in 11.00
Source: Orange County Register