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Ryan Crouser wins shot put world title with blood clots in leg, just misses world record

World Athletics Championships 2023 - Day 1

Budapest , Hungary - 19 August 2023; Ryan Crouser of USA competes in the men’s shot put during day one of the World Athletics Championships at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Sportsfile via Getty Images

BUDAPEST — Ryan Crouser repeated as world champion in the shot put — and nearly broke his world record — despite recently finding two blood clots in his left leg.

“The last 20 days have been some of the most frustrating and stressful of my life,” Crouser, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder, posted on social media Friday. “The medical team has been great, they explained the risks and did everything to mitigate them and left the decision to go to WC to me and my family. I made it to Budapest and will be competing.

“The medical staff has me on anticoagulant/blood thinners so that it is safe to compete and minimize the risk of it worsening.”

Crouser still dominated, throwing 23.51 meters on his last throw, the second-best throw in history behind his world record of 23.56 from May. He had the three best throws of the six-round final.

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He estimated that he lost at least 30 centimeters on that throw due to the clots affecting his preparation the last three weeks.

“That was the best throw that I’ve ever had,” he said. “It was definitely a better technical execution than my world record at UCLA. I just didn’t have the power output out of the body today. Combine that with an AM qualifying [earlier Saturday] that was delayed [by an hour due to a lightning storm] and pushed up close, it was as close to a perfect throw as I’ve had.”

Crouser believes a 24-meter throw is possible. The second-best man in history (Joe Kovacs, the bronze medalist Saturday) has a best of 23.23, or two and a half feet shy of 24 meters.

Crouser, who won the last two Olympic gold medals, became the first man to win four combined Olympic and world outdoor shot put titles.

Also on the first day of the nine-day worlds, a Dutch star fell while leading in the final meters of each of the two track finals.

Gudaf Tsegay led an Ethiopian sweep of the women’s 10,000m medals after Olympic champion Sifan Hassan fell while leading in the last straightaway.

Hassan surged from sixth to the lead on the final lap, then dropped to the track as she had a fraction of a lead over Tsegay to her outside. Hassan ended up 11th.

Later, Femke Bol, the Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medalist, fell out of exhaustion while trying to hold off American Alexis Holmes in the mixed-gender 4x400m relay. Holmes then crossed first in a world record after Justin Robinson, Rosey Effiong and Matthew Boling ran the previous three legs.

Bol got up to cross the finish line third, but the Dutch were given a DNF because she didn’t have the baton anymore.

In morning shot put qualifying, Crouser advanced to the 12-man night final on his first throw after what he called an “unfortunate travel timeline” and “imperfect preparation.”

After a July 23 meet, Crouser woke up with calf pain after a throwing session. It was believed to be a strain or light tear.

He trained through pain for 10 days. Medical staff, thinking by then it wasn’t matching up with the typical timeline of the calf injury, wanted him to get a scan to be safe.

Crouser did around Aug. 9, the day before he left for Budapest. The scan showed two blood clots in his lower left leg.

“Everything kicked into emergency mode at that point,” Crouser posted. “Biggest questions being ‘what’s the safest treatment?’ And ‘is WC even a possibility?’”

Crouser posted that he didn’t have swelling, redness, heat or throbbing symptoms and that the clots were “more distal and smaller than what would typically show” on a muscular ultrasound.

The medication reduced the risk of flying on a plane with blood clots.

“I don’t believe there’s any way the medical team that has been working with me could have done any better job than what they have,” he posted.

Worlds continue Sunday, highlighted by the men’s 100m semifinals and final, live on NBC Sports and Peacock.