Former Texas shot putter Ryan Crouser headed to the Olympics in Tokyo as the favorite to win the gold medal in his signature event.
He already owned the Olympic record in the event, winning the 2016 gold medal with a heave of 73 feet, 10-3/4 inches. In June, he broke the world record when he finished first at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field when he launched the shot 76 feet, 8-1/4 inches.
But defending his title again was not enough for Crouser.
His first throw of 74 feet, 11 inches broke his Olympic record by just over a foot. His second effort stretched the record by nearly four more inches when it sailed 75 feet, 2-3/4 inches. On his final attempt, he broke the Olympic record for the third time in as many attempts, letting it fly for 76 feet, 5-1/2 inches, improving upon his still-fresh Olympic standard by nearly 15 inches and missing his world record by less than three inches.
Crouser did not just win the event — he effectively lapped the field. He beat silver medalist Joe Covacs by more than two feet (Kovacs’ best effort went 74 feet, 3-3/4 inches). New Zealand’s Thomas won bronze by finishing third — a distant third — with a throw of 73 feet, 8-3/4 inches.
Crouser is the first American shot putter to win back-to-back gold medals since Parry O’Brien did it in 1952 and 1956.