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Former Texas star Ryan Crouser shatters outdoor world record in shot put win at Trials

Johanna Gretschel
American-Statesman Correspondent

Former Texas standout Ryan Crouser made history on Friday night, heaving the shot an astounding 76 feet, 8¼ inches at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., to shatter the world record by nearly a foot.

"I was celebrating on that one almost before it left my hand," said Crouser, who won the event to qualify for next month's Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He'll be joined by 2019 world champion Joe Kovacs and Payton Otterdahl. "As soon as I set up on the back, I knew I had the position that I needed to make a big throw."

The previous best of 75-10¼, by former Texas A&M star Randy Barnes in 1990, was one of the longest-standing world records in track and field. It's long been a target for the 28-year-old Crouser, who eclipsed Barnes' indoor world record with a throw of 74-10½ in January.

Former Longhorn Ryan Crouser celebrates after winning the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials shot put Friday night by setting a world outdoor record with a throw of 76 feet, 8¼ inches.

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“I’ve known it’s possible for four-plus years now, and so finally getting out of my own way and letting it happen ... I did that tonight, and I felt like I was 10 pounds lighter as soon as that (mark) popped up on the reader board,” Crouser said. “I didn’t realize how much that had been weighing on me, knowing it was there and not having done it yet.”

Barnes’ outdoor world record was considered illegitimate by some in the track and field community because he tested positive for anabolic steroids just three months after the record-setting throw. He ultimately served a 27-month ban. Barnes later won the 1996 Olympic gold medal before receiving a lifetime ban in 1998.

"The sport has changed so much since then," Crouser said. "Drug testing has cleaned up the sport exponentially. The level of clean competition right now is phenomenal. With the regimen of drug testing we go through, I’m happy that the world record is under the current system. It’s changed a lot. ... It’s awesome that we have a 100% clean world record in the shot put now."

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Former UT star Ryan Crouser broke the world outdoor track and field record in the shot put Friday night, but soon after his win at the U.S. Olympic Trials, he was already talking about his next goal: to surpass 77 feet on a throw. "I think I’ll always be looking for that perfect throw," he said.

Crouser nearly broke the record during Friday morning’s preliminary round, in which athletes compete to simply advance to the final. He set a U.S. Olympic Trials meet record of 75 feet, 2½ inches, a personal best from a “static start,” which he uses to save energy during preliminary rounds.

He considered going for a big throw on the spot, but World Athletics (the international governing body for track and field) rules dictate that officials must take athletes’ shoes for inspection after setting a world record. Without a backup pair of broken-in competition shoes, Crouser wanted to make sure he had the correct equipment for the evening's final, he said.

“I realized if I throw the world record, I won’t have shoes for the final,” he said.

Luckily, the delay before the big throw paid off.

Crouser, who won four NCAA titles while at Texas, was already critiquing his form in the press call with another number on his mind — 77 feet.

"I think I’ll always be looking for that perfect throw," he said.