Ryan Crouser is not only a giant of a man, but he is a giant of a competitor, as he demonstrated on Thursday (5) in winning his second consecutive Olympic gold medal in the men’s shot put.
He is only the fourth man in history to win the shot put at back-to-back Olympics and none of the previous dual gold medallists had to wait five years between their triumphs.
But Crouser was determined to win in Tokyo to honour his grandfather Larry, the patriarch of the Crouser throwing dynasty which has spawned three Olympians, who died the week before his grandson left for Tokyo.
After his triumph, Crouser held up a handwritten sign that said: “Grandpa, we did it. 2020 Olympic champion.”
“I was probably about this tall (holds hand low to the ground) when I took my first throw with him in his backyard,” Crouser said. “He got me started throwing, and I threw in his yard until eighth grade. The day before I had to leave (for Tokyo) I threw a shot, and it went right through the roof of his garden shed, so I had to go back the next day and replace that.
“He played a huge role in my throwing career. So to lose him the week before coming to the Olympics obviously was sad. But I feel like he was able to be here in spirit. I held the note because at the end he lost his hearing so I would write whatever I wanted to say to him and he would read it and answer back. I sat with him for a few hours after the trials and was able to tell him I was the world record-holder. And he watched that throw on the iPad thousands and thousands of times.
“So I just felt like that was the last note that I wanted to write to him, that I didn’t get the chance to. I know he was here with me in spirit, and I know he would be proud if he was here.”
SOURCE: WORLD ATHLETICS