Ryan Crouser in action in Zagreb (© Organisers)
Double Olympic champion and world record-holder Ryan Crouser brought the curtain down on a flawless season by beating his own meeting record to win the Ivan Ivancevic Memorial men’s shot put in Zagreb on Monday night (13).
There was an intimate atmosphere at the specially staged event at the city fountains ahead of Tuesday’s main Boris Hanžekovića Memorial, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting, but the action was explosive in the circle. Crouser produced a series of consistent high quality, bettering 22 metres with all six throws, his best being a fourth-round effort of 22.84m – a 10-centimetre improvement on his meeting record set last year.
He was pushed hard by twice Olympic bronze medallist Tom Walsh of New Zealand who thrived in front of an appreciative crowd, landing a fifth-round 22.39m for second place, with his other five throws all in excess of 21 metres. World champion Joe Kovacs took third with 21.70m in a competition that also featured music, flames and lights against the spectacular fountain backdrop.
“This is one of my favourite meetings and a great capstone to what has been a fantastic season for me,” said a very satisfied Crouser. “In 2021, I have achieved everything I could have wanted and more. To be able to come out here for one of my favourite meetings and perform as well as I did for a great crowd, I was extremely happy. You can see the energy that the athletes bring when the crowd has so much energy and enthusiasm.
“They let us pick our theme songs for the music, which is always fun and gets the athletes hyped up,” added Crouser, who has now been undefeated for almost two years. “It was a lot of fun and I feel like the results showed. With the shape I am in right now, after eight weeks on the road travelling, that was one of my best competitions of the year with just how I felt coming in and how I performed.”
Chris Broadbent for World Athletics