Crouser heaved historic 76-foot 8-inch shot put toss en route to Tokyo Summer Games

PMG FILE PHOTO - Ryan Crouser shattered the shot put world record last weekend at the Olympic Trials in Eugene Friday, June 18. With a roar, a kid from Boring obliterated a track & field world record that has stood for more than three decades.

Reigning Olympic shot put champion Ryan Crouser, 28, smashed Randy Barnes' toss by more than 8 inches with a 23.37-meter (76-8) throw during the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials last weekend in Eugene.

The eye-boggling heave Friday, June 18, was his fourth attempt of the competition. The moment the heavy ball left his hand, Crouser threw up his arms and began to celebrate the attempt that nearly left the sector.

"The second it left my hand I knew it was good," Crouser told reporters during the meet. "It was a perfect throw."

The reader-board confirmed what Crouser felt, and the Barlow High graduate etched his name in history. Crouser said he has been imagining this moment — seeing his name next to the world record — since he first started throwing.

"You start doing any event and you (think) about being the best there's ever been," Crouser said with a laugh. "To finally do it has been pretty special."

The record-setting throw felt different as Crouser stepped into the circle. He said he wanted to clear his head and set his feet, trying to slow things down and put everything he had into the throw.

"I knew the strength and power was there, I just had to get it into the ball," Crouser said.

Barnes' record was set in 1990 at a meet in Los Angeles, when he threw the shot 23.12 meters (75-10.25). Only a few competitors have been able to come within centimeters of that throw. And while many thought the meet in Eugene might finally see Crouser claim the record he has been chasing all year, no one expected such a dominant performance.

"I've been after that world record for so long, it felt like a weight had been lifted," he said.

Crouser has been collecting accolades all season. He also claimed 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. His latest throw, which was the first world record set in the newly renovated Hayward Field, also punched his ticket to the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

This was also the first meet at the new Hayward for Crouser, who grew up competing in the venue.

"Fifth grade I was here (for) the Junior Olympics throwing javelin on what was this runway," Crouser said. "It felt like a homecoming."

Crouser grew up in Boring as part of a family of throwers — his father, Mitch Crouser, 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 track collegiately.

His breakthrough came as a sophomore at Barlow, 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 would go on to attend the University of Texas.

As a professional, his performance during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics turned heads. He topped his personal bests en route to breaking an Olympic record and winning gold.

Upon his return from Rio, Crouser was heralded by the community. In fact, there is a day named in his honor.

After winning gold, Crouser and his cousin Sam, who also competed in the 2016 Olympics, visited the kids at Barlow High. During the gathering, former Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis read an official proclamation naming Oct. 7 "Sam and Ryan Crouser Day."

"You are going to have good and bad days, and there will be times you may want to give up," Crouser told the students. "Remember success isn't from just one person, it's thanks to the people around you providing support."

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