Olympics

Oregon native Ryan Crouser on shot put life lessons, family's Olympic absence

Olympics

Ryan Crouser has established himself as one of the best shot put athletes in not only the United States, but the world.

Holding measurements akin to an NFL lineman at 6-foot-7, 320 pounds, he’s established a very nice career for himself in a sport deviating from the trenches of football typical athletes his size.

Selecting shot put and excelling at it has led him to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics and now the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. An honor not many athletes can say and even fewer can mention they’ve won gold.

The Portland native is looking to repeat as champion despite the ongoing pandemic and not having his family with him this time around.

“I feel sad for them because they’re going to miss out on the whole Olympic experience,” Crouser said. “I’m glad they got to be a part of it in 2016. As an athlete, strictly from a professional sense, it is like you’re in a bubble. I’ll miss them but I won’t know they aren’t there.”

With the pandemic raging and the delta variant swarming, along with Tokyo in the midst of an outbreak, it’s best for there to be a limited amount of people in attendance. 

Athletes having their parents at events can be a blessing or a curse. For Crouser, it seems like he’s at peace with them not being there as he mentioned he barely saw them at the Rio Olympics and thinks he’ll “miss them less” since he won’t be in Tokyo for long.

 

“The main thing at the Olympics or major championship is winning or doing my best to come home with gold,” he said. “I always want to go out there and compete against myself.”

The mentality to beat himself has gotten Crouser this far. It’s also why he’s been a force in his sport for over a decade as an amateur in high school to now as a pro.

When he was a student at Sam Barlow he set multiple Oregon and U.S. records in discus and shot put. With a few of them being set at the famed Hayward Field and most recently set a world record and qualified for the Olympics there.

“I have so many memories at Hayward Field,” he said. “Words can’t describe coming back to a brand new Hayward Field after a pandemic. Not even knowing if we would have an Olympics to coming back to Olympic trials after not seeing my family since 2019. To come back to the place where track started for me and throw a world record in this brand new stadium that still resembled my childhood stadium was such a special moment. It felt like all these pieces I was juggling was finally coming together.”

With so much uncertainty in the world due to the pandemic, one of Crouser’s focuses was to remember what his sport taught him: discipline and hard work. Sports teach their performer's life lessons and shot put is no different for the former Longhorn.

He’s faced adversity and an emotional roller coaster, but through it all, he has found a way to remain focused. All because his sport has instilled those life values in him.

“It’s mostly about setting goals and working hard towards them,” Crouser said. “Also, that hard work does payoff is the main thing... You just dedicate and work and when you think it’s kind of all there and ready to go, it’ll blow up in your face. The world record for me was kind of a reflection of that… it’s always kind of a longer-term goal you gotta be working towards.”