When I was perusing weekend results, I came across Ryan Crouser kicking his season off with a monster 22.05-meter throw to win The Big Shot and Fast K competition in Christchurch, New Zealand. It’s outdoor season in other parts of the country already and I’m jealous. But then I decided it’s not too early to get excited about the shot put in 2017. Fellow writer, Stephen Kersh, would actually be the first to say it’s never too early to get excited for the shot put. Period.
Crouser, the reigning Olympic champion, is the first U.S. man over 22 meters and will probably not be the last in 2017. Based off last year’s results and optimism for the new year, there will definitely be some company on the way whenever Olympic silver medalist Joe Kovacs opens his season. Before last year’s trials, Kovacs was coming off the world championship gold medal and many, including myself, had him pegged as the favorite for gold. Then Crouser’s breakout summer started just before the trials
He was a steamroller with nothing stopping him after Eugene. He threw over 22-meters on three of his throws in Rio and the furthest of the tosses was a 22.52-meter Olympic record. Because of his success at the NCAA and U-18 level, we tend to forget that last summer was his debut at a senior global outdoor championship and he just made it look easy. He continued competing well through September and just turned 24 years old in December.
Kovacs has been in the 22-meter club since April 2015 and still has a better personal best throw than Crouser with his 22.56 from Monaco in 2015. The head-to-head clashes by Crouser and Kovacs (as well as New Zealand’s Olympic bronze medalist Tom Walsh) are what could finally break Randy Barnes’ world record of 23.12, which was set in 1990. Barnes was banned for two years by the IAAF for using the anabolic steroid methyltestosterone but came back to win the 1996 Olympic gold medal. He was hit with a lifetime ban two years later for androstenedione.
2017 also could prove to be a big year for Darrell Hill, who threw for a personal best of 21.63 meters at the trials and then placed 23rd in the qualifying round in Rio with a 19.56-meter mark in qualifying. He closed out his season with his second-best career performance when he tossed 21.44 meters in Zagreb.
The United States has three guys 27 years old or younger that could elevate the throws and the attention that side of the sport for the United States.
The Crouser train is still rolling and the next stop is Auckland Track Challenge on February 26.
Quick note: Since we’re excited about the shot put this season, we’ll be more than happy to hear from anyone interested in contributing a shot put blog every now and then. If interested, email [email protected]