Shot superstar Ryan Crouser’s boggling 76-8½ (23.38) throw back in February at a specially organized comp during the annual Simplot HS Games was met with celebration from World Athletics.
WA headlined its same-day web report, “Crouser breaks world shot put record with 23.38m in Idaho.” Under that banner ran a story with quotes from the man who had just blasted the 16-pound ball past all previous puts. The first paragraph, as is standard practice, included the standard asterisk as caveat: “*Subject to the usual ratification procedure.”
Subsequently, T&FN has confirmed through a USATF official, the temporary ring and landing area set up in Idaho State’s Holt Arena was found through a WA-required site survey to be unacceptable for WR consideration.
The surveyor’s report identified two deficiencies, stating, “The diameter of the circle does not comply with the rules” and “The downward inclination in the putting direction does not comply with the rules.”
A WA official wrote in an e-mail to USATF, “Unfortunately, given the fact that the SP site was NOT in compliance with World Athletics Rules we are not in a position to recognize the performance as a new World Record. Additionally, we will not ratify the results of the Shot Put held at this competition.”
Crouser learned of the decision on April 01, not in a courtesy call or e-mail from WA or USATF but via the social media grapevine. The gist as he recalls it: “Ryan Crouser’s indoor World Record has been taken down under an IRM tag.”
“Shoot,” he remembers thinking as he Googled, “what does World Athletics’ IRM mean?” It was April 1st. It was like, oh, ‘This is a terrible April Fools. Stop it guys.’”
IRM, as Crouser learned, stands for “irregular measurement.” He next learned nobody was pulling his leg “cuz I went and looked at my World Athletics page and saw [‘IRM’ appended to the mark], but yeah, all of social media thought it was just like a really bad April Fools’ joke.”
His massive heave had vanished into thin air. Crouser’s energy is primarily focused on throwing farther yet and he’ll have an opportunity to take an indoor whack at his records as early as a special Drake Relays competition on April 26. Nonetheless, he admits, “It’s been frustrating. I still haven’t seen the survey that World Athletics is saying that they’re throwing it out on.
“I’ll have to kind of wait to see what our path forward is. Most likely there isn’t much as far as protesting it. It’s just the unfortunate reality that trying to set a World Record is getting more and more difficult regardless of the performance.”
Crouser had, in fact, taken great care over an 8-week period before the Pocatello event to try to meet WA requirements — from lining up qualified officials to a paper implement weigh-in sheet to a certified implement scale and more. He had also considered the WA rule on allowable drop for the landing area, a 1:1000 ratio.
“The biggest reason I threw at Simplot,” he says, is the field had been surveyed to be flat. I don’t know when that survey was done, but the survey had been done. The field was flat and we were throwing off ¾-inch plywood.
“So off ¾-inches if you throw 23 meters that converts to an allowable drop of 2.3 centimeters [0.905512 inches]. So 0.75, three-quarters, of an inch, is within the allotment.”
To be precise the allowable drop on a 76-8½ (23.38) throw expressed in inches is 0.92047244. Crouser says, “This is an issue we’ve had before, cuz most indoor rings have two sheets of plywood, so an inch-and-a-half. At 23 meters you’d be breaking the 1:1000 rule. If you’re on two sheets, you have to throw onto mats, which I did at Arkansas when I broke the World Record in 2021. We had to specifically order 2-inch mats to be able to host that meet.
“The only thing I can think that it can be is that the field is not perfectly flat — where you look at it and it’s like, ‘OK, yeah, this is level.’ A surveyor would say it’s flat or close enough, but you add that ¾-inch sheet of plywood onto it and [if the floor isn’t pool table flat] you’re too high.”
An NBC Sports report citing a WA spokesperson asserts the landing area was about 47mm (1-7/8ths inches) lower than level, thus 22mm (some 7/8ths of an inch) lower than is permitted. [this paragraph was added post-initial publication of this report]
As for the purported problem with the ring’s diameter, Crouser suspects there could have been an impermissible imperfection because the ring was hand-cut.
“It wasn’t like it was a discus ring,” he says. “All I can think is that it has maybe a 1-centimeter imperfection cuz it was just hand cut with a jigsaw. I’ve made a few rings that way and they come out super, super close, but you’re cutting by hand and then you go in and sand it out.
The diameter of a regulation shot ring in feet and inches is 7-0 (2.135m). The NBC Sports report, again citing WA, asserts the Pocatello ring diameter was surveyed at 2.1cm to 4.8cm (1-5/64ths to 2-7/32nds inches) larger “at every measuring point” than the max allowable 2.14m (7-ft, 15/32nds-inch) diameter. [this paragraph was added post-initial publication]
In the wake of losing official acceptance for the longest put of his career, Crouser has encouraged USATF to develop a checklist of all the parameters that should be ticked off ahead of time for a WR. The response from officialdom so far has been, positive — unofficially, anyway.
The off-the-charts achiever in a family chock-a-block with former elite throwers, Crouser knows the sport’s earlier eras were amenable to spontaneity inconsistent with, for example, the new requirement that for marks to count, meets must be sanctioned and added to the WA Global Calendar 60 days in advance.
“As a pro athlete,” he says, “you kind of have those magic moments, so to say, and they might last a week or two where just everything’s clicking in practice, you’re healthy, body’s firing, technique’s on, you’re just kind of cooking and everything’s great.
“And then, ‘OK, let’s set up a meet or get in a local meet,’ — kind of just keep all the variables to a minimum: ‘Not a meet I would usually do, but yeah, let’s go enter in that one.’ Now a lot of that style or those opportunities are kind of going away to an extent.”
Based on fond memories of his youth throwing days, Crouser also sees tightened strictures as potentially diminishing, at least in a small way, the experience of athletes and fans at the grassroots level.
He recalls “the days of youth athletes being able to be like, ‘Oh dang, Adam Nelson, Christian Cantwell, whoever it might be, they’re at this local meet that I’m throwing at after them.’ Today such meets are fewer and farther between.”
Crouser says, “One of the coolest experiences throughout my career has been hopping in a local meet and throwing with small college kids and the like. And they’re so excited. Now, a lot of that is kinda, unfortunately I think, going away to an extent.”
All that aside, Crouser’s ‘23 season is still young. The “Crouser slide,” his new extra step technique as he initiates the throw — which he just calls the “step across” — is pleasing him at practice.
“Training is going well,” he says. “I’m really happy with where training’s at. The step across technique is showing some more promise. So hopefully I can put that together and figure out a good spread. Cuz yeah, that 23.38 was off of a static start. If I can find that 60–75 centimeter [c23-30 inch] spread from my static to a step across, I would take that.”
A throw in the 24-meter range? That’s 78-9 in English. Who wouldn’t take it?