EUGENE, Oregon — Former Texas thrower Ryan Crouser broke a 31-year-old world record in the shot put Friday U.S. Olympic Trials Friday at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.
His fourth attempt sailed 76 feet, 8-1/4 inches, broke the previous mark set in 1990 by Randy Barnes by more than eight inches. His record-setting heave won the event and sealed his spot in Tokyo; he was joined by reigning world champion Joe Kovacs and Payton Otterdahl on the Olympic team.
It was a record Crouser said he had been pursuing for more than two years; he broke the world indoor shot put record Jan. 24, also previously set by Barnes, with a mark of 74 feet, 10-1/2 inches.
"I always try to clear my head and set my feet," Crouser said. "The main thing that was going through my head was just go slow instead of up, because I knew the strength and the power was there, so I just had get it into the ball. So, I went slow, set it up right and you can see me celebrate. About the moment it left my hand I was celebrating, and I was just waiting for it to come up on the reader board to see if it would be enough — and it turned out that it was."
Crouser's heave for the World Record
He was celebrating for good reason. Just as a good hitter sometimes knows he has hit a home run by the feeling of the ball connecting with the bat, a good shot putter can feel a record-breaking throw as soon as it leaves the hand.
Following his throw, he was asked how long Barnes' record had been in the back of his mind.
"Since I started throwing shot put," Crouser responded. "Any track and field athlete, you start throwing or doing any event, you think about being the best that there has ever been. It's something I've always thought of. I don't know how many times [as a kid] I'd throw my hands up after a throw and be like, 'That would've beaten Randy Barnes!'"
Crouser no longer has to imagine beating Barnes. When he threw his hands in the air after the record toss, he knew that he had become the best "that there has ever been."
The Texas track and field programs are well-represented in Eugene, with 24 Longhorns competing through June 27 for spots on the Olympic Team.