TOKYO — Ryan Crouser broke his own Olympic record on his way to defending his shot put title Thursday on a hot day in Tokyo.
On his last attempt, Crouser went 23.30 meters (76 feet, 5½ inches) to earn the first track and field gold medal for the American men at the Tokyo Games. U.S. teammate Joe Kovacs finished second and Tomas Walsh of New Zealand was third.
The 28-year-old Crouser went 22.52 meters when he won at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Crouser is already the world-record holder after breaking a 31-year-old mark on June 18 at the U.S. Olympic trials. His attempt that evening went 23.37 meters.
In the stifling heat at the Olympic Stadium, Crouser took the lead on his first attempt and saved his best for his final one. He clapped his hands – sending chalk dust into the air – and celebrated. He even donned his cowboy hat for the occasion.
His family and friends gathered for a watch party in Redmond, Oregon. Wearing “Crouser” shirts, they let out the largest cheer of all when the commentators announced those magical words: “Gold Medalist.”
He was competing with a heavy heart after his grandfather recently died. On a piece of paper, Crouser had a heartfelt message: “Grandpa. We did it. 2020 Olympic champion!”