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Crouser_Ryan-W1b-OlyTrials21w.jpgRyan Crouser, new World record holder, 23.37m/ 76'8.25", photo by Kevmofoto

 

June 18, 2021

Trials / Day One

 

After the men's shot put final in the 2019 World Championship in Doha - where Joe Kovacs 6th round heave clinched the title and the top three athletes were separated by only .01 meter - many proclaimed that thrilling and highly-contested competition to be "the greatest shot put competition of all time." Those who witnessed the men's shot put final during Day One of the 2021 USA Olympic Trials may wish to differ.

Pre-event expectations were high for a spirited and impressive competition in the men's shot put. Ryan Crouser, Joe Kovacs, and Darrell Hill came in as the top three shot-put performers respectively on the world list. And in Friday morning's qualifying round Crouser's opening throw of 75' 2 1⁄2 [then #5 on the all-time world list] not only showed the reigning Olympic champion was ready. It suggested that something special may be brewing.

In the final, Ryan Crouser - fueled in part by a Starbucks coffee on his way to Hayward Field - was absolutely dominating in his performance in the final. Crouser's only foul was in the 5th round. All of his remaining legal throws would have won the competition. Hayward Field erupted on his 5th round throw. Even before the measurement was completed and announced, it was apparent that the former University of Texas athlete had surpassed Randy Barnes's 32-year-old world record of 75'101⁄4". When the mark was announced at 76'81⁄4 (23.37m) those in attendance in the stadium rose up from their seats to engage in an extended round of applause. In securing the world outdoor record, the Nike athlete completed in essence a Shot Put Trifecta, possessing now the outdoor world record, the indoor world record (74'101⁄2), and the Olympic record (73'10 3⁄4").

In the meantime, a battle was underway for the final two Olympic berths. Joe Kovacs immediately snared the 2nd place position on his opening throw and was never really threatened thereafter. The reigning world champion saved his best for last as his top mark was his 6th and final round heave of 73'31⁄2".

The real showdown was the battle for the 3rd and final Olympic team spot. Olympian and '17 Diamond League champion Darrell Hill lost that 3rd place spot when Nike's Payton Otterdahl's 5th round put of 69'10 3⁄4" moved him into 3rd.

How outstanding was this competition? An unprecedented five-shot putters had thrown in excess of 71'8". And the competition featured 14 throws over 70 feet - 5 by Crouser and 6 by Kovacs.

Later in the evening and as he did after winning the 2016 Olympic Trials shot put, the new world record holder walked into a packed crowd at Eugene's Wild Duck, immediately sparking an impromptu and extended standing ovation by all of the celebrating patrons. That act of celebration and respect was duplicated a little later when the video of Crouser's world record throw was shown on video screens surrounding the entire restaurant while the jubilant athlete recorded a phone video of the celebrating crowd.

In the midst of the Wild Duck din, a smiling Crouser provided insight on this day he will never forget. "The whole goal was to try and keep today as normal as possible. I ate my normal breakfast burrito, worked through qualifying, executed as best I could, and then I went back to where we were staying. Then I came back for the evening session," he explains. Crouser had prepared for all possibilities. "I've been throwing at noon; I've been throwing at 6:00 p.m. for my training days. So I felt that the way I rehearsed it and that that replication really paid off. The key was just doing what I've been doing and not trying to reinvent the wheel." On his big first-round throw in the morning's qualifying round: "I knew I had a chance. That was a big PR. I did one additional throw that was also a good throw." Crouser smiled as he explained a special step he took to enhance his performance in the final. "This morning I felt a little bit lax as I didn't have any caffeine. I usually drink coffee before a meet. With the caffeine, I usually feel a little more peppy. I knew if could throw 22.92m with no coffee. I thought if I could hit Starbucks in the afternoon for a little coffee, I could do pretty well." He was right. / Dave Hunter /

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Crouser_Ryan-R2-OlyTrials21w.jpgI am new World record holder, hear me roar! Ryan Crouser, June 18, 2021, photo by Kevmofoto/Kevin Morris

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Trackside Tidbits

Aragon_Dani-Q-OlyTrials21w.jpgDani Aragon, looking good in the 1,500m, photo by Kevin Morris /Kevmofoto

Women's 1500m Preliminary Round: Showing that she still is a force to be reckoned with, Jenny Simpson [[4:11.3 - fastest of the day] joined Dani Aragon [4:13.34] and Elle Purrier St. Pierre [[4:11.78] as the winners of their respective heats. Shannon Osika, Nikki Hiltz, Dani Jones also looked sharp. Semis on Saturday; Final on Monday.

Women's 400m Preliminary Round: Doha WC medalist Wadeline Joathas [50.64 - fastest of the day] ran down Lynna Irby [50.91] to win her heat. Also looking ready to race hard: the ageless duo of Allyson Felix [50.99] and Jessica Beard [51.10] as well as Kaylin Whitney [50/94] and Kendall Ellis [51.02]. Semis on Saturday; Finals on Sunday.

Men's 400 Meter Preliminary Round: Heat winners were North Carolina A&T's Trevor Stewart (44.75 - the fastest), Nike's Michael Cherry (44.86), Georgia's Elija Godwin (44.81), and Wil London (45.46). Other notables garnering big Q's: LSU's Noah Williams (45.31), Michael Norman (45.18), and newly-minted NCAA champions Randolph Ross (45.61). Olympic Champion LaShawn Merritt (45.81) grabbed the last time qualifier. Semis on Saturday; Final on Sunday

Men's 800m Preliminary Round: Reigning world champion and American record holder Donovan Brazier (1:45.00) chalked up the fastest time of the day to move on. Other heat winners were Abraham Alvarado, Michael Rhoads, and USC NCAA champion IsaiahJewett. Other pre-meet favorites looking sharp and heading to the semis include Bryce Hoppel (1:48.38), and Clayton Murphy (1:47.84). Semis on Saturday; Final on Monday.

Women's 5000m Preliminary Round: In Heat One and after a slowish 2 kilos in 6:11, New Balance's Abbey Cooper charged to the front and immediately began building a sizeable lead. While some did, many in the stands did not connect the dots and understand that Cooper's maiden name is Abbey D'Agostino - the Dartmouth great and the most decorated student-athletes in Ivy League history. Seeking not only a place in Monday's final but also the all-important Olympic standard [15:10.00], Coper pressed on. Exhorted on by the fans, the 2016 Olympian covered the final kilo in 2:54 to cross in 15:07.80. Will she be able to recover in time to be a force in Monday's sweltering final? In Heat Two, notable advancers included Nike athletes Karissa Schweizer (15:32.63) and Elis Cranny, NC State's NCAA champion Elly Henes; and the heat victor Reebok's Josette Norris.

Women's Triple Jump Qualifying Round: Keturah Orji (46'103⁄4), Jamine Moore (46'3⁄4) and Tori Franklin (45'5") had the top qualifying marks and will lead a dozen triple jumpers in Sunday's final.

Women's 100m Dash Preliminary Round: Three athletes posted sub-11 second clockings: Nike athletes Kayla White (10.99) Javiane Oliver (10.96), as well as Sha'Carri Richardson (10.84) whose 10.74 coming into these Trials, ranks her #1 on this year's USA list and #2 on the 2021 world list. Experienced Olympians Tianna Bartoletta [11.27], English Gardner [11.17], and Jenna Prandini also advanced. The semis and final will be held on Saturday.

Men's 10,000m Final: In what many praised as one of the most exciting 10,000m finals in recent memory, a measured pace throughout the event set up an electrifying final kilometer [covered in 2:30].In a furious final lap, Nike's Woody Kincaid [53.47 to win in 27:53} was the strongest over the final circuit followed by Nike's Grant Fisher (54.53) and Joe Klecker (54.54). The top three all had previously notched the OG standard of 27:28 and will represent the USA in Tokyo next month.

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Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.

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