News

Olympic Champion Ryan Crouser Captures First Diamond League Trophy

by Karen Rosen

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.

Maggie Ewen celebrates winning the women's Shot Put event at The Diamond League athletics competition on Sept. 8, 2021 in Zurich, Switzerland. 

 

Team USA swept the shot put events as Maggie Ewen won on the women’s side. The events were held at the same time, with men and women alternating rounds. Ewen and Crouser high-fived at the conclusion.
For Ewen, the Diamond League title – plus the $30,000 first prize and the world championships automatic bid – were vindication after a year in which she finished fourth at the Olympic Trials and missed qualifying for Tokyo. She was also fourth at the 2019 worlds.
Ewen’s first toss was a season-best 19.41 meters and held up for the victory. Auriol Dongmo of Portugal, the Olympic fourth-place finisher, was second at 18.86 and Fanny Roos of Sweden was third at 18.75, followed by Chase Ealey of Team USA in fourth (18.49).
“I think I’m still in shock,” Ewen said after the event.
She said when realized she had won, “I think everything went blank. It’s been a crazy year, a rough year. I didn’t make it to the Olympics like I wanted to, so this was really kind of my last shot to make the most of my season and I was glad I was able to.”
Ewen, who will turn 27 later this month, said she is always extremely nervous on her first throws. “They really, really scare me,” she said, “but sometimes that extra energy, good or bad, is what gives it that extra little something to make it go far and everything just clicked together – and it went!”
Ewen, who was also an elite discus and hammer thrower before deciding to specialize in the shot put, now has the pressure of making the 2022 world team off her shoulders. 
“You take the good with the bad,” Ewen said of this year. “You don’t make the Olympics, but you can’t let that get you down. You have to keep working hard, keep moving forward and that’s where you get moments like this.”
Crouser has had moments like this all year. He said that although he had been chasing the world record for a long time, the Olympic gold “would be the highlight” of 2021. In Tokyo he paid tribute to his grandfather, who had passed away the day before left for the Olympics, with a handmade sign that said, “Grandpa, We did it. 2020 Olympic Champion.”
Crouser said that after persevering through a global pandemic, “the athletes coming together once again at the Olympics after being a year apart was such a special moment that I would put that above my own world record.”
Because the pandemic shut down the world class facilities in which he had been training, Crouser had to work out in a garage and throw on a piece of plywood behind an elementary school. He did his medicine ball workouts underneath a bridge. 
“But it was extremely humbling in that I had kind of taken for granted all of the things I had had,” Crouser said, “and it really made me refocus on what I had available and the fundamentals.”
Crouser did less lifting and more throwing while working on technique. “But most of my progress has been on the mental side,” he said.
The champ knows he has to stay focused to stay on top.
“Without the guys that are in the event right now,” Crouser said, “I wouldn’t see myself having the world record or moving it as far as I have been able to simply because those guys motivate me every day to be the absolute best that I can be.”


Steffin McCarter of Team USA just missed winning his first Diamond League title in the men’s long jump. He and Thobias Montler of Sweden went back and forth in the lead before Montler moved ahead by one centimeter on his fifth attempt, 8.15 to 8.14. 

McCarter, a 2020 Olympian, went 8.04 on his final leap, shrugging his shoulders after he didn’t quite hit the board as well as he wanted to. Montler then extended his lead with a final jump of 8.17.
The Diamond League final continues Thursday with the bulk of the events held in Letzigrund Stadium.


Karen Rosen has covered every Summer and Winter Olympic Games since 1992 for newspapers, magazines and websites. Based in Atlanta, she has contributed to TeamUSA.org since 2009.
Team USA logo

Follow Us

General

United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee
  • Accessibility
  • Finance , opens in a new tab
  • Governance , opens in a new tab
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Site Map

© 2024 United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. All Rights Reserved.