Ryan Crouser: Five things you didn't know about the Rio 2016 champion 

The stetson-wearing Olympic shot put champion is a man of many talents including economics and DIY.
By Rory Jiwani

With his trademark stetson hat sitting atop his mighty frame, Ryan Crouser is one of the more recognisable figures in athletics.

And he's made a spectacular start to 2021.

With his very first competitive throw of the year at the American Track League meet in Fayetteville, Arkansas, he hurled the shot out to a new indoor world record of 22.82m.

The previous best was 22.66m set by Randy Barnes in January 1989.

When he was 23, the man from Boring, Oregon - 12km east of Portland - came from relative obscurity to win the U.S. Olympic Trials shot put before taking Olympic gold at Rio 2016.

Crouser has since remained at the top of the sport with two American titles plus silver at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

The late start to the 2020 season did not hinder him in the slightest as he set a new personal best of 22.91m in Marietta, Georgia on Saturday (18 July). The throw also elevated Crouser to equal-third on the all-time list.

He followed that up with an epic performance at the Drake Relays becoming only the second man to exceed 22m with all six throws. His best was 22.72m in round two.

At 2.01m and 145kg, Crouser is one of the biggest athletes on the circuit.

Find out why achieving that bulk was no easy feat as we look at five things you didn't know about the shot put ace.

1.) Eating can be a chore

Crouser is a veritable man mountain, but that wasn't always the case.

Here he is at the 2009 World Youth Championships where he took silver in the discus and gold in the shot with future rival Tomas Walsh back in sixth.

Ryan Crouser on his way to shot put gold at the 2009 World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy

Crouser has put on almost 50kg in the last 10 years by eating plenty and often.

He told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I follow a 5,000-5,500 calories per day diet consisting of five to six balanced meals. On Sunday, when some people have a cheat meal, I celebrate by skipping one."

The average male consumes 2,500 calories per day, and Crouser admits that his need to eat so much can be tiring.

Speaking to the New York Times in February last year, he said, "I don’t even like food anymore. Each one of my meals is half of what a normal person eats in a day. And I do that five times.

"If I ever feel hungry during the day that means I’m not doing my job. So I eat all the time. Sometimes before another meal I’ll stare at it for a while, like, ‘This again.’" - Ryan Crouser to the New York Times

Ryan Crouser celebrates his silver medal at the 2019 World Championships in Doha

2.) Great with numbers

Crouser studied at the University of Texas and won a number of NCAA shot put titles, indoor and outdoor, in his time there.

He started majoring in engineering but switched to economics after two years, obtaining his degree in 2015.

That summer, he started a Masters in finance which he completed in one year rather than the usual two despite the small matter of qualifying for the Olympic Games.

He told World Athletics in January 2017 it was a "real struggle" to combine his sport and studies in an OIympic year.

"I was working five to six hours in the classroom every day, studying for an extra two to three hours and then had to fit training in. I became pretty good at walking and eating my breakfast and lunch between classes. The goal was to reach the beginning of May when my course was finished and hope I had done enough training to build on."

He certainly did that, winning the U.S. Trials in July before taking gold in Rio.

3.) Do it yourself and dinosaurs

Crouser told La Gazzetta dello Sport that his passions include mathematics, science, dinosaurs and DIY.

Proof of the latter came with him building a large hardwood dresser from scratch after baulking at the $2,000 price tag of one he had looked at buying.

Unable to use his normal training facilities at the University of Arkansas during COVID-19 lockdown, he also made himself a mobile shot put throwing circle.

It is about 30cm narrower than a standard circle which helps him technically, and he now trains up to four times a week on a grass field behind a school close to his home.

That move has already borne fruit off with Crouser setting a new personal best this month.

He says his next DIY goal is to make a bed which can support his weight of 145kg.

4.) He likes breaking stuff

Just over a year after winning his Olympic gold medal, Crouser took part in a YouTube series entitled 'Gettin' Smashed with Ryan Crouser'.

The premise was simple - Crouser smashing objects ranging from Christmas decorations to cans of soft drink with a 20lb (9kg) sledgehammer after posing 'Thor-style'.

Don't try this at home!

5.) It's in the genes

Ryan is far from the first Crouser to make a name for himself in throwing events.

In fact, the name Crouser is synonymous with throwing in Oregon.

His father Mitch, who helps out with his coaching, was an alternate in the discus for the Los Angeles Games of 1984 having finished fourth in the Olympic Trials after taking third at the Prefontaine Classic.

Uncle Brian was the first college freshman to win the NCAA javelin title in 1982.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 1986, he went on to appear at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

Ryan was joined by his cousin Sam, another javelin thrower, at Rio 2016 although he announced his retirement in 2017 after a succession of knee injuries.

Sam Crouser competing in the javelin at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon

Sam's sister Haley is also a former national high school javelin record holder.

She followed Ryan to the University of Texas in 2015 and set a school record to take the Big 12 title three years ago.

Sam and Haley's father Dean was a very decent thrower in his day and held discus and shot records at the University of Oregon.