Ryan Crouser competes in the Men's Shot Put Final at The Diamond League athletics competition on Sept. 8, 2021 in Zurich, Switzerland.
While enjoying the greatest year of his career, shot putter Ryan Crouser still had one more item on his “To Do” list.
“I think I can almost guarantee I’m the only two-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder that doesn’t have a Diamond League trophy,” Crouser said before the two-day Diamond League Final in Zurich.
The 28-year-old finally checked that box Wednesday, proving that all that glitters is not only gold in his trophy case.
Crouser defeated long-time rival Joe Kovacs, who in October 2019 was the last man to beat him. Kovacs, the two-time Olympic silver medalist behind Crouser, held a brief lead after the second round. Then Crouser – with some inadvertent help from Tomas Walsh of New Zealand - found the form that has made him the most dominant and consistent shot putter of the year.
Since Kovacs won worlds, with Crouser and Walsh both only a centimeter behind, Crouser has been undefeated. This season he also broke the indoor and outdoor world records that had stood for more than 30 years and set the Olympic record in Tokyo for good measure.
In Zurich, Crouser set the meet record of 22.67 meters on his third throw, surpassing the mark of 22.60 set by Walsh in 2018. Kovacs’ second-round throw of 22.29 was good enough for second place, while Armin Sinancevic of Serbia was third (21.86) and Walsh finished fourth (21.61)
While Crouser broke Walsh’s record, the New Zealander broke something else: the toe board on the temporary ring in front of Zurich’s historic opera house, which was the setting for the first day of the meet.
After Walsh broke the toe board in the third round, picking it up and holding it aloft as if were the Diamond League trophy, there was a delay while it was repaired.
That gave Crouser time to regroup after he said, “I had a little bit of a struggle early.”
Crouser said he actually felt too good and “was just a little bit overzealous and rushing my throws, so I had to tone it back down. Tom Walsh breaking the toe board might not have been the worst thing for me because it made me just settle down and calm down and really execute.”
Crouser added that he thought some of the athletes were disappointed by the break in the action, but that “It was kind of a blessing in disguise for me,” he said.
After his winning throw, Crouser fouled on his fourth attempt and then exceeded 22 meters on his final two tosses (22.29 and 22.30).
Kovacs, who won the 2019 worlds on a mighty sixth throw, could only muster a heave of 21.42 on his final attempt.
However, Crouser will not get the automatic bid to the next world championships that usually comes with a Diamond League title. Because Kovacs, who is from the same country, is the reigning world champion in that event, he gets the bye to Eugene, Oregon, which will host the first track and field worlds on U.S. soil
The way Crouser has been throwing, though, he shouldn’t be worried about securing one of the other three spots for worlds, which will be held just down the road from his hometown of Boring, Oregon. Team USA will have a maximum of four competitors at worlds.
“It’s been a fantastic year,” said Crouser, who will finish his season at a meet in Zagreb. “I’m just so happy and honored to be able to have this be my job and be able to compete all around the world.”
He also had no issues with competing on a temporary ring, even if it did turn out to be flimsier than expected. “I spent last year throwing off of a plywood board,” said Crouser.