Ryan Crouser wins gold at 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Boring's golden boy shined on the international stage and etched his name into the Olympic record books with a historic shot put toss.
Ryan Crouser, a Barlow High School graduate who grew up in East Multnomah County, won the men's shot put at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with a mind-boggling throw of 23.30 meters (76 feet, 5.28 inches).
That toss, which was televised on Wednesday evening, Aug. 4, was the second-longest in history, only behind Crouser's own World Record throw he set in June during the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene.
It also set a new Olympic meet record, which was previously held by Crouser.
Crouser became a two-time gold medalist in shot put, defending his victory in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"It was a special moment for me … it has been a little bit of a rough couple of weeks," Crouser said during the broadcast.
A few days before he left for Japan, Crouser's grandfather passed away. He's the one who introduced Crouser to throwing, so it took an emotional toll.
"I miss him, but I know he is here watching and that he would be proud," Crouser said. "It was special to go out there and throw one for him."
Near the end, his grandfather started to lose his hearing, so Crouser would write notes to him. After winning the gold on Wednesday, Crouser wrote one last time: "Grandpa, we did it, Olympic Champion."
Crouser, 28, was the favorite heading into the Tokyo Olympics, leading a trio of Americans who all advanced to the final round. He was joined by Joe Kovacs and Payton Otterdahl in the top 12 in the finals.
It came down to a duel between Crouser and Kovacs. Crouser took an early lead with his second throw, tossing it 22.93 meters. That mark broke the previous Olympic record. As the competition continued, Kovacs, the reigning World Champion, crept closer with each attempt.
On his fourth and fifth throws Crouser seemed disappointed, audibly lamenting "oh, come on" as he attempted to set a new World Record. Though not an improvement, each of those "disappointing" attempts were still besting the old Olympic record.
On his final throw Kovacs moved into first, and he stood on the side cheering on Crouser. That' when the Oregonian threw his top mark, with Crouser nearly besting his World Record of 23.37 meters (76-8 feet).
Kovacs took silver with 22.65 meters, and New Zealand's Tomas Walsh placed third with 22.47 meters.
"I'm never upset losing to Ryan," Kovacs said. "It was a good battle toward the end."
This has been a big year for Crouser. He shattered the previous World Record set by Randy Barnes by more than 8 inches — beating a top mark that stood for more than three decades. Crouser also set the indoor world record in January during a meet in Fayetteville, Arkansas. That throw was 22.82 meters (74-10.25), also topping a best by Barnes.
Throwing is in Crouser's blood. His father, Mitch Crouser, who is his coach, was an alternate on the 1984 Olympic discus team; his uncle Brian Crouser qualified for two Olympic teams in the javelin; his uncle Dean Crouser was a shot putter and discus thrower; and cousins Sam and Haley both competed in college track. Sam also threw javelin at the Rio Olympics.
Crouser's breakthrough came as a sophomore at Barlow High, where he set a national sophomore record in discus — a mark that held until Sam broke it the following year. He was hampered by a foot injury his junior year, but returned to smash more records as a senior. Crouser went on to attend the University of Texas. Now he'll be coming home with more Olympic hardware.
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