State Of The Shot Put 2024: Season Preview For Ryan Crouser, Sarah Mitton, Joe Kovacs, Chase Jackson + More

By Paul Hof-Mahoney

March 22, 2024

With the long throwing events only contested outdoors and World Athletics not recognizing the weight throw, all the attention of throwing fans across the world is focused on shot put for the first two-and-a-half months of the year.

Thankfully, global shot putters gave audiences a phenomenal indoor season in 2024 and delivered on every expectation that we could’ve had for the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow. As the outdoor season gets underway, let’s take a look at how what we saw indoors can translate outdoors as we head towards the Paris Olympics.


The Podium

The starting point of this conversation is, unsurprisingly, the same starting point of every conversation about men’s shot put for the last four years: Ryan Crouser.

The greatest shot putter to ever walk the face of the Earth finally added a World Indoor title to his trophy case. A 70cm win in Glasgow capped off a season in which he recorded the second-, third- and fourth-farthest throws of all-time indoors, as well as six other marks over 22m. Oh yeah, I should also mention he did this in only two meets, across just 12 total throws.

This win in Glasgow was a relief for Crouser – his only other appearance at World Indoors resulted in a silver in Belgrade – but it was far from shocking. As track and field fans, we should be at a point where nothing that Ryan Crouser does shocks us.

Ryan Crouser celebrating his gold at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships.Ryan Crouser celebrating his gold at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

As he showed us last year, we shouldn’t be shocked if he throws 30cm farther than anyone else in history in May. We shouldn’t be shocked if he can produce the second-farthest mark in history with two blood clots in his leg. And we shouldn’t be shocked if – but more likely when – he becomes the first man in the event’s history to win three Olympic titles in a row come August.

The silver medal went to another familiar face, Tom Walsh, who equaled fellow New Zealander Valerie Adams’ record medal haul with his fifth shot put medal at the World Indoor Championships.

A model of consistency for the better part of the last decade, this is Walsh’s first appearance on a global podium since Belgrade after fourth place finishes in both Eugene and Budapest. Walsh didn’t have an indoor season last year, starting his outdoor campaign with a string of early-season meets in New Zealand, but his best mark of 2024 at 22.16m is nearly half-a-meter farther than his best mark this time last year.

The strong start to this campaign aligns perfectly with the fact that Walsh capped off 2023 by throwing 22.69m at the Prefontaine Classic, his best mark since the legendary 2019 World Championships in Doha. Adding together the confidence boost of making a global podium and the great shape he’s proven to be in over the past seven months, Walsh has sent a message to the rest of the world as he gears up to earn his third straight Olympic medal.

The 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships Men's Shot Put podium. The 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships Men's Shot Put podium.

Kevin Morris/KevMoFoto

After knocking on the door of the 22-meter barrier for three years, Italian Leonardo Fabbri finally broke through in a huge way in Budapest last August, throwing a PB of 22.34m to take silver over two-time World Champion Joe Kovacs.

This indoor season, Fabbri proved that he now has a consistent place among the world’s elite shot putters, adding three more centimeters onto his personal best and leaving Glasgow with a World Indoor bronze. In Tokyo, Fabbri was only able to manage a 14th-place finish. He now moves into this outdoor season as the sixth farthest man ever indoors and with the only two global shot put medals by an Italian since 1987 around his neck. Needless to say, I have a feeling he’ll place a bit higher in Paris than in his last Olympic outing.

The Field

For Rajindra Campbell of Jamaica, it was another frustrating appearance on the global stage, as he failed to record a legal mark in Glasgow. This comes after he also fouled out of the final in Budapest last year. This most recent result was surprising considering that he threw 22.16m exactly one week before the competition. Finishing the season ranked seventh in the world in 2023 and tied for third in the 2024 indoor campaign, it’s clear that if Campbell can overcome some nerves and lock in his technique when it matters most, he could give the big name throwers a scare this summer and threaten to claim Jamaica’s first Olympic medal in the event.

The final athlete that really stood out in the indoor season and could project well outdoors is Zane Weir. While his season’s best to this point is behind the four previously mentioned athletes, he performed his best when the lights were brightest. His season’s best of 21.85m came in a fourth-place finish in Glasgow and he threw 21.69m two weeks earlier to beat his countryman Fabbri at the Italian Indoor Championships.

The 2023 outdoor season was an up-and-down one for Weir. It saw him place second in the qualifying round in Budapest, only to record a single legal throw of 19.99m in the final and end up in 11th. Only 15 days after this disappointing finish at the World Championships, Weir produced a throw of 22.44m to shatter his PB and give him the farthest throw by a European since 1989. With a fifth place Olympic finish from Tokyo already under his belt, Weir is due to be a dangerous player in the outdoor scene.

Notable Athletes That Did Not Compete Indoors

  • Joe Kovacs, United States
  • Payton Otterdahl, United States
  • Josh Awotunde, United States
Sarah Milton at the 2022 World Athletics Outdoor Championships in the Shot Put.Sarah Milton at the 2022 World Athletics Outdoor Championships in the Shot Put.

Kevin Morris/KevMoFoto


The Podium

Sarah Mitton has finally capped off a truly meteoric rise in women’s shot put by finding her way to the top of a global podium. Since entering the 2022 season with a PB of only 18.89m, Mitton has obliterated that mark by nearly a meter-and-a-half and her results at major championships have improved at each meet: seventh in Belgrade, fourth in Eugene, second in Budapest and now first in Glasgow.

Posting the second- and third-farthest throws of the indoor season at World Indoors with marks of 20.22 and 20.20m, the Canadian looks poised to be one of the favorites heading into the outdoor season. A medal in Paris would be especially rewarding for Mitton, as she threw under 17m in Tokyo and only placed 28th out of 32 competitors.

In a similarly stunning rise, Yemisi Ogunleye of Germany threw a 62cm PB in Glasgow to take the silver medal for her first global podium finish. Her mark of 20.19m was over two full meters farther than her PB at the start of 2023. Entering 2024, Ogunleye’s PB sat at 19.44m, and the results of her four meets this indoor season were 19.57, 19.42, 18.91 (good enough for a German Indoor Championship), and finally 20.19m. When you look at these results and then realize that shot putters typically throw markedly farther outdoors, it is impossible to not be incredibly excited about Ogunleye’s prospects this summer. Even with the expected evening out of her progression curve, she still stands a great chance to end a shocking 20-year Olympic medal drought for German women in this event.

Chase Jackson throwing Shot Put at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships.Chase Jackson throwing Shot Put at the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Championships.

Kevin Morris/@KevMoFoto

As the reigning two-time World Champion outdoors and American Record holder, you may think that Chase Jackson would have been disappointed with settling for a bronze medal. However, she revealed after the meet that a hip injury suffered the evening before competing had her 10 minutes away from withdrawing from World Indoors. Due to the injury, Jackson said that she had to completely adjust her technique and throw in a fashion that she hadn’t since early 2022. In that light, the fact that she managed a best mark of 19.67m and three throws over 19.50m is ridiculously impressive.

The shift in her technique was particularly significant because she has since said that she and coach Paul Wilson have been working on implementing the “Crouser Slide” into the first phase of her throw. For those not familiar, Ryan Crouser introduced this eponymous technique at the start of last season and proceeded to break his own world record by 19cm. If Jackson can avoid any injury mishaps on the outdoor circuit and take to this slight technical change as well as its namesake, the rest of the world should be terrified when her long-awaited Olympic debut comes around.

The Field

The 2024 world leader through the indoor season is Jessica Schilder of the Netherlands, who recorded a throw of 20.31m at the Dutch Indoor Championships. It wasn’t her best day in Glasgow, as she struggled through five fouls, but her lone legal throw of 19.37m was good enough for fifth. Schilder, who has global bronze medals from both Belgrade and Eugene in 2022, will look to ride the momentum from an impressive indoor season into her second Olympic appearance.

The year is 2024, and Gong Lijiao is still one of the best shot putters in the world. She didn’t compete in Glasgow, but she posted a mark of 19.65m in her only indoor competition this year, which currently ranks fifth in the world. Simply put, Gong has one of the most insane trophy cases in athletics history: eight World Championship medals outdoors (a record in a single event), two more indoors, and medals at three of the last four Olympics. No matter how her season has gone, no matter how the competition has thrown in the season leading up to a major championship, Gong has reached the point where it feels inevitable that she’ll produce something good enough to land on the podium. One thing that makes Gong such an interesting athlete to follow is that she, like several other Chinese athletes, practically only competes in China. In fact, her indoor meet this season, which was in Germany, was the first non-global championship Gong has competed in outside of China since 2019. This lack of head-to-head battles with her top competitors on the Diamond League circuit has built somewhat of a mystique around Gong when it comes time for global championships, but she never fails to deliver.

Maddison-Lee Wesche’s young career reached its highest point in Glasgow, where she threw a PB of 19.62m to place fourth. At only 24 years old, the young New Zealander is no stranger to global finals, as she has placed inside the top eight in Tokyo, Eugene and Budapest. Looking ahead to Paris, the most promising trend for Wesche is that the three farthest throws of her career are her aforementioned 19.62m throw in Glasgow, 19.51m in Budapest, and 19.50m in Eugene. This combination of consistent improvement and consistently delivering on the biggest stages makes Wesche a dark horse for the podium this summer.

Notable Athletes That Did Not Compete Indoors

  • Auriol Dongmo, Portugal
  • Song Jiayuan, China

Paul Hof-Mahoney

Paul is currently a student at the University of Florida (Go Gators) and is incredibly excited to be making his way into the track and field scene. He loves getting the opportunity to showcase the fascinating storylines that build up year-over-year across all events (but especially the throws).