As the World Athletics Awards 2023 draws near, we’re shining a spotlight on the 10 finalists – five men and five women – for the World Athlete of the Year awards.
Today the focus is on US shot putter Ryan Crouser.
In what has proven to be the greatest ever era for the men’s shot put, Ryan Crouser continues to push the boundaries.
The US thrower enjoyed yet another sensational season, successfully defending his world title, extending his own world record and racking up numerous 22-metre and 23-metre throws.
His season started back in February with victory at the Millrose Games, where he threw 22.58m – a mark that stood up as a world indoor lead.
One week later in Pocatello, Crouser threw 23.38m – which would have been an outright world record, but it could not be ratified as the landing area was slightly downhill and the circle was non-compliant.
Crouser didn’t mind, though – it simply gave him fuel for the outdoor season.
After his brief indoor campaign, Crouser resumed competition in April, winning at the Drake Relays with 22.42m (indoor exhibition competition) and then in the main programme with 22.38m.
One month later at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Westwood, California, Crouser broke his own world record with 23.56m, adding 19 centimetres to the mark he set at the 2021 US Championships.
He opened his series with 23.23m, then improved to 23.31 – the second-best throw in history at that point. After a 22.94m effort in round three, Crouser produced his world record mark in round four. He rounded out his series with marks of 22.80m and 22.86m.
“It felt like I had a tonne of power and I caught a big one,” he said.
One month later, Crouser notched up victories in Ostrava (22.63m) and Lausanne (22.29m – his shortest throw of the year), then won the US title with 22.86m.
He then returned to Europe, winning in Silesia (22.55m) and Szekesfehervar (22.51m) before making an impact at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in London, where he set a meeting record of 23.07m – the perfect confidence boost ahead of the World Championships.
Or at least it would have been, had it not been for the fact that medics discovered two blood clots on Crouser’s legs just two weeks before the World Championships. At first he was unsure if he’d be able to defend his title, but he was eventually given the green light; he just wasn’t sure if he’d be at his best.
But as it turned out, Crouser was simply untouchable in Budapest. He opened his series with 22.63m – a mark that would have been sufficient for gold – but then improved to a championship record of 22.98m. He followed that with 22.28m and then two fouls, but he saved his best for last.
Stepping into the circle with the title confirmed, Crouser launched his shot out to 23.51m – a championship record and the second-best throw in history behind the world record he had set just three months prior.
“That was a tough one,” he said. “The last throw was testament to all the hard work and dedication over the last year. With all that has happened, it was a phenomenal throw.”
His winning margin of 1.17m is the biggest ever in the men’s shot put at the World Championships, and is quite the turnaround from four years prior when Crouser missed out on world gold by the smallest winning margin ever (1cm).
Crouser’s winning streak came to an end in his final competition of the year. At the Wanda Diamond League Final, Crouser produced a best throw of 22.91m and produced four marks beyond 22.75m – a superb result by anyone’s standards – but on the day it wasn’t quite enough to beat US rival Joe Kovacs, who won with 22.93m.
Nevertheless, Crouser had won 13 of his 14 competitions in 2023, including the one that mattered most. He now has a staggering 243 throws beyond 22m, which translates to 40% of all of history’s 22-metre performances.
• The World Athletes of the Year will be announced on World Athletics’ social media platforms on 11 December as part of the World Athletics Awards 2023 – and you and a friend can be part of the celebrations.
One lucky person and a companion will win a once-in-a-lifetime VIP trip to Monaco during the annual World Athletics Awards.
The winners of the fan VIP trip will get to spend three nights (9-11 December) in Monaco and meet the best athletes of 2023 in person. Flights, accommodation and evening meals will all be included.