Oregon shot put star Ryan Crouser owns world records, Olympic gold medals; now he seeks an elusive world championships title


In an era where sports fans are obsessed with the GOAT — greatest of all time — Ryan Crouser is muscling himself into that conversation.

The 29-year-old shot put sensation from Boring is one of the greatest stars in track and field.

NCAA champion? Indoor and outdoor.

Olympic champion? Check, times two.

World outdoor record holder? Check, and then some. The best four throws of all time, and seven of the top 10. Crouser also owns the Olympic and indoor world records.

Missing, however, from the resume is a world championship.

Oh, Crouser has tried. In three previous attempts, Crouser has a second and a sixth in the world outdoor meet, and a second during the indoor. Crouser’s next chance to break through is around the corner, as he’s the favorite in the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field.

Crouser’s only setback in 34 events since the end of the 2019 season was the 2022 world indoor, where he claimed silver.

“It’s been kind of a joke, that you can’t win a world championship,” Crouser said.

Crouser takes it in good nature. It’s not like he’s snake-bit. And Crouser certainly isn’t nearing the end; 29 is a prime age for shot put.

Raise your thumb and forefinger and leave just a sliver of light between the two. That’s what separated Crouser from gold at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar. In an epic battle between Crouser, USA teammate Joe Kovacs and New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh, Crouser missed first place by a fraction of an inch.

Kovacs, on his final throw, won with a mark of 75 feet, 2 inches. Crouser and Walsh threw 75-1¾. At the time, they were three of the five best throws in shot history.

“We’ve never seen depth like that before,” Crouser said after the 2019 worlds. “I was honored to be a part of it. Any time you throw a lifetime best, you can’t be upset.”

In March, Crouser took second at the 2022 world indoor, missing gold by 3½ inches.

“All I can do is prepare the best I can, and try to execute as best I can on the day of,” Crouser said. “I feel like I’ve done that at every major championship. I haven’t had any major championship where you said, dang, like I messed this up.”

The 6-foot-7, 320-pound Crouser lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he trains and serves as a volunteer assistant coach for Arkansas Razorback throwers. But Crouser is never far from Oregon, where he’s in near-daily contact with his father Mitch, also his coach.

Crouser uses his phone and a high-resolution camera drone to video his daily workouts in Fayetteville, which are sent to Mitch. After Mitch reviews the video, they talk later in the day about the workout.

“It’s worked out pretty well. With the technology now, it has changed everything so much, as far as coaching,” Mitch said. “To me, it’s still pretty amazing.”

Crouser has been in Redmond with his father since mid-June training for the worlds. The first stop was the USATF Outdoor Championships meet, where Crouser earned one of USA’s four shot berths for the world championships.

It’s not lost on Crouser that his first world title could come at home. Hayward Field has been the site of many significant events for Crouser, dating back to teenage days when he won USA youth and state high school championships. Two of Crouser’s three best throws have come at Hayward, including his world record mark of 76-8¼ at the 2021 U.S. Olympic trials.

“Hopefully this will be the one,” Crouser said. “If I continue to prepare my best and everything can come together on this one, hopefully I’ll walk away with that title.”

There won’t be any shortage of family at Hayward cheering on Crouser during July 15 qualifying, and the July 17 final. The Crouser clan, from cousins to uncles and parents, are track and field royalty in Oregon.

“It’s big, and especially with (worlds) being back here in Oregon … I think it makes it even a little more special,” Mitch Crouser said.

— Nick Daschel | ndaschel@oregonian.com | @nickdaschel

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