THE OLYMPIC YEAR is young, pandemic realities are still testing athletes and there is much rust to be shaken off for most. But Ryan Crouser, with his World Record at the first installment of the 4-meet American Track League series showed his early-season shot form to be on a par with the fabulously long-bombing consistency the Rio champion showed in ’20. (Continued below)
“There’s really good things there,” said Crouser — visibly not shocked though pleased with his 74-10½ (22.78) — “and I’m sure most excited to kind of put this all together here over the next month, because in any early-season meet, mostly you’re doing it to learn and improve.
“There’s some really good takeaways. A, I’ve got a lot of power in the ring, and B, there’s still a lot to improve on just in consistency. We’re still in heavy training. We haven’t really backed off too much. We haven’t really started tapering at all. We’re lifting heavy in the weightroom, throwing a lot and throwing heavy shots. So as I started to work in some light balls and get used to throwing fast, that’s the farthest I’ve thrown any ball really since the summertime.
“So I’m excited to get in some speed work because that speed that I was kinda trying to find wasn’t really very developed today. So a really good indicator and really excited moving forward of the possibilities.”
With the depth of experience the 28-year-old ’11 High School Athlete Of The Year, and was our top-rated-American last year, has laid on over many seasons, Crouser derives feedback that fuels him from early-phase work with weightier shots.
“I’ve been throwing the 18 [8.16kg] quite a bit,” he said. “That’s what I’ve predominantly been throwing. And I have gone up to the 20 [c9kg] and I threw a big personal best with that. I posted on my social media I threw 20.20 [66‑3¼] with the 20lb. And so for me, that was a phenomenal throw and really a good indicator of where I’m at kind of coming off of heavy, heavy lifting, heavy throwing.
“For me, when I’m at very peak shape and I’ve been throwing the light ball and doing sprints and plyometric work 1 pound is about a meter for me. So you can kind of do the math on that from a 20-pound dropping down to a 16. If I can get over 20m with a 20-pound, that kind of shows me the potential that is there.”
With travel the ordeal it is right now, Crouser is stoked that three of the four ATL meets —on each of the next three Sundays in Fayetteville, where he lives — will include the men’s shot.
“When we set the schedule, U.S. Champs in Albuquerque was still on the table,” he explained. “We’ll have shot put at the first and the second [January 31]. So today, next Sunday, and then the third one is off and I’ll be back on for the fourth meet here [February 21]. That one was meant to be a tune up for U.S. Champs, but I’m still gonna stick with that schedule.
“So yeah, happy to have three meets here through the American Track League, and it’s been a really successful event, I think. I mean, it’s been run safe. We’ve had PCR tests, all of us yesterday, and really extensive wearing of masks. So I’m really happy with how the meet has gone, the energy we are still able to have with no crowd, and I’m excited to continue to have the opportunity to compete here in two meets.”
Crouser also came away with a lagniappe victory from the meet, as girlfriend Megan Clark took the vault at 14-9 (4.50), which height she needed to clear three times in order to prevail in a jumpoff with Katie Nageotte. A jumpoff which Crouser mostly missed — for an essential reason.
“From what I could see, Megan looked good,” he said. “I mean, she’s been jumping well in practice and I know it was kind of a first real opener for her. So proud of the way she jumped in mostly to compete like that. I know they were moving the bar up and down, up and down so I imagine she’s pretty tired. I saw the first jump of the jumpoff as I was heading to drug testing so I missed most of that.
“But with any World Record, it was a relief to have drug testing there because that’s been a challenge in World Records in the past. You have to have drug testing on site and certifying it, otherwise it doesn’t count. So I was really happy to see the USADA guys here in the stands and there on the infield to get that certified.
“I unfortunately missed the vault because of that, but it was a relief. I guess, if I’m going to miss her for a reason, it was good to be missing it for drug testing. ’Cause now we can certify the World Record.”