“THAT WAS NOWHERE NEAR THE PERFECT THROW.” And yet, everyone who saw Ryan Crouser’s World Record blast would agree that it was the most perfect throw in the history of the world.
At age 28, Crouser has finally added the WR to the Olympic gold he won in Rio. The two biggest prizes the sport has to offer guarantee that for the rest of his life, he will often be introduced with the adjective “legendary.”
Yet while the Oregon native will not deny that he is joyful and relieved by the throw, he also admits that he is far from satisfied. “It’s always about going out and trying to further my PR,” he says. “I think I can go farther, I think 77 is definitely possible. If we can move up to 77 or even just higher in the 76s then I’ll be happy.” (Continued below)
The day had begun with the farthest qualifying throw in history, a mark that made him realize that he could be on the brink of the record he had been chasing for years: “I‘ve known it was possible for 4-plus years now. It was finally getting out of my own way and letting it happen. I did that tonight and felt like I was 10lb [4.5kg] lighter as soon as that popped up on the board. I didn’t realize how much that was weighing on me. Just knowing it was there and not having done it yet.”
The ring at Hayward Field, he noted, is so quick that it affected his choice to go with older, broken-in footwear. “It’s definitely a faster ring than what I’ve been training on in Arkansas, definitely one of the faster rings I’ve been on,” he said.
“I brought a fancy, nice new pair of Nikes that I was planning on throwing in and I did a practice with them. I wasn’t slipping and falling but I wasn’t gripping how I wanted. I had an older broken-in pair of Nikes and I switched back to those after I did a practice out here.
“I think I could have still thrown well with the newer shoes, but I found a system that worked for me and it definitely paid off.”
He tried harder for his second throw in qualifying and it didn’t go as far. Still, he says, “After that, I knew there was a big throw there, and I actually went over and talked to my dad and realized with World Athletics, the new rule is they take your shoes if you break the World Record. I told my dad, ‘I don’t know, if I throw a WR, I won’t have shoes for the final. I’ll have to throw in the fast Nikes.’”
That’s why he didn’t take his third throw — a concern that has perhaps never been voiced by any athlete anywhere — he was worried that he would bust the record and lose his trusted shoes.
“It was a good time to call it,” he notes. “I obviously didn’t want to throw without my shoes in the final.”
Throws geeks also took note that Crouser called his 75-2½ (22.92) a PR for a “static start,” revealing, “That was not a safety throw, but it was a static start. It was not my full wind and shift, but it was safer, less to go wrong,” he explains. It was his farthest such throw ever, a “massive PR” over his old best, 22.33 (73-3¼). “I had really nice double support work. I got to the front, both my feet, right foot, left foot down and really worked through double support all the way without breaking off early.”
Then came the final. “I knew I was in really good shape. A big throw was there. Those first three rounds, I felt like I was toeing the line on getting a big one and I was just a little bit tight. Every time I was just telling myself, ‘Go a little bit slower and be a little bit more patient at the back.’ I finally timed that one up; I set myself up and found my position at the back and attacked through the finish. As soon as I set up at the back, I knew I had the position I needed to hit a big throw.”
He adds, “I was nice and relaxed on the farthest throw and the setup was the best. There were definitely things that I can take from each throw and continue to try to improve and work towards that perfect throw.” He was even happy with his fifth-round foul,explaining, “That one had the aggression and smash at the finish that I needed for a really big throw.”
The small but vocal crowd helped. “It was really an awesome feeling to be back in front of fans again. It was really cool being in the new stadium and the acoustics were unbelievable. Obviously with COVID protocols we didn’t have a packed house like we will hopefully have in the future. Being an athlete down there competing, it was crazy loud. They were all so passionate. You could tell it meant a lot to them being back at Hayward Field.”
The record was the achievement of the dreams Crouser had since he took up throwing in his hometown of Boring, Oregon, and competed in middle school and high school in nearby Gresham. “Any little kid that does track & field or any sport, you dream about breaking the World Record. There were so many times that I was throwing the 6-pound [2.75kg] shot out at the middle school and I was throwing by myself and letting it go, putting my hands over my head and be like, ‘Oh, new World Record!’”
Now, with the WR weight off his shoulders, Crouser can focus on his real mission this year. “Right now, the goal is to repeat my gold medal in Tokyo and so I will pretty much base my training around that. I evaluate things based on the question of will this help me win a gold medal in Tokyo. I can say that [traveling to] Europe probably will not. I need to stay home, get in some quality training and continue to prepare myself. I probably will be staying here in the U.S. I might pick up a meet in early July, maybe just to stay in meet shape.
“I feel like the training side of things has been really good. What I can improve on is the meet side of things. I need to get used to relaxing in high-energy situations. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a competition stage like this with a stadium full of fans.”
Always a perfectionist, he wants to hit a level of technical proficiency that no one else ever has. “I managed to do it on one throw. I’d like to do it on all 6 throws come Tokyo.”
He concludes, “I will still always be looking for that perfect throw. I don’t know if I ever will get the actual perfect throw.”
And to do it, he’ll need to break in another pair of Nikes. After his record, he says, “They actually did take my shoes.”