American Ryan Crouser sets Olympic shot put record three times to win gold; US takes silver, too

·3 min read

TOKYO — On his first attempt, U.S. shot-put world-record holder Ryan Crouser walked to the circle as cool and casual as one can be in an Olympic final. The reigning Olympic champion stepped into the ring sporting a USA track and field hat and shades. He took a deep breath, did the popular shot put spin technique and boom – Olympic record.

Crouser tossed 74 feet, 11 inches to break his 2016 Olympic record of 73 feet, 10¾ inches.

In Crouser’s second attempt, he increased his own record. The 6-foot-7 shot putter tossed a monster throw of 75 feet, 2¾ inches.

The competition was basically over.

Crouser saved his best for last, though. The Oregon native threw 76 feet, 5½ inches on his last attempt to break the Olympic record for a third time in the competition. It’s the second longest throw in the history of the event. The first? The world record (76 feet, 8¼ inches) he set at the U.S. Olympic trials.

With the victory, Crouser is the first U.S. male to win a track and field gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Additionally, Crouser is the first American to win back-to-back Olympic golds in the shot put since Parry O'Brien did it in 1952 and 1956.

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Ryan Crouser celebrates after winning gold in the shot put on Thursday.
Ryan Crouser celebrates after winning gold in the shot put on Thursday.

“It’s just an honor to be here. It’s been quite a journey working through a global pandemic. I’m just honored to compete in my second Olympics,” Crouser said. “I felt like I prepared really well and was in a really good place physically and mentally.”

American Joe Kovacs finished in second (74 feet, 3¾ inches) and New Zealand’s Thomas Walsh (73 feet, 8¾ inches) came in third.

Crouser’s second Olympic gold was very sentimental to him. He said after the competition that his grandfather, Larry Crouser, died at the age of 86 a day before he traveled to Tokyo for the Olympics. He held up a note that said, “Grandpa, we did it, 2020 Olympic Champion” when he officially won gold.

“I held up a sign at the end and that was for my grandpa,” Crouser said. “He passed away just over a week ago. … He’s been my biggest fan.”

Crouser’s grandfather was the reason he got involved in the sport at a young age. The first time he putted a shot put was in his backyard. He used to practice shot put in his grandfather’s backyard until the eighth grade.

“He’s had a huge role in my throwing career. To lose him a week before the Olympics was obviously sad, but I feel like he was able to be here in spirit,” Crouser said.

Crouser’s grandfather lost his ability to hear at the late stages of his life, so they used to write each other notes to communicate. The last note Crouser wrote him stated that he broke the world record at the U.S. trials.

The two-time Olympic champion and record holder wrote a new note on Thursday for his late grandfather and the world to see.

When asked what he thought his late grandfather would write back, Crouser replied: “He would tell me to stop and smell the roses for sure. That’s what he would always tell me,” Crouser said. “I know he would be proud if he was here and I felt like he was here watching me. It was definitely a special day.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ryan Crouser sets Olympics shot put record as US wins gold and silver

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