The Ryan Crouser’s Shot Put World Record That Wasn’t

The January 29 Millrose Games in New York was in full run with warmth all around as a snowstorm blanketed the arena. Inside, athletes were running, jumping, and throwing indoor, but it was another Ryan Crouser moment in the putter’s circle.

For about an hour-and-a-half, track and field fans inside the Armory at the top of Manhattan and even around the world thought US shot putter and Olympic champion had broken his indoor world record by 56 centimeters and surpassed his outdoor world record in the process.

Crouser’s second throw in the competition was announced as having landed at 23.38 meters, which would be the longest throw in history, one centimeter beyond his 23.37 outdoor world record set at the 2021 US Olympic Trials, and more than half meter over his indoor world record of 22.82. Yet Crouser’s reaction to his throw didn’t match that which he usually has when he does something amazing.

Even though the crowd cheered, the throw did not stun them, and there was little reaction from Crouser. The put landed well short of the world record distance, which was marked off on the infield. After about a minute the announcer said, “A new world record” and the crowd roared. 

That distance stayed on the live-results site until long after the meet ended, but officials announced afterward that the laser system used to measure throws in the competition had malfunctioned, causing a throw likely in the 22.50-meter range, as suggested by Crouser, to register as 23.38.

That “22.50meter” from a static start while in heavy training was fantastic…I’ll take it,” Crouser said, “I’m really happy with my performance today.”   

The results were then removed from the site, and the entire shot-put event listed as “Cancelled.”

Crouser was in his first competition of the season and said at the pre-meet press conference that he was in a heavy training block and testing a new training plan. The NBC Sports broadcast showed little of the competition live and did not interview Crouser after the throw.

Though Crouser said immediately after his throw he knew there was an issue with the measurement system, fans at the meet or watching it on TV did not hear what Crouser had said, and 23.38 was put into the results system.

He fouled three times in his first four throws before what seemed 22.76 on his fifth. That distance would’ve been just six centimeters short of his indoor world record of 22.82.

At the post-competition press conference, Crouser noted that the equipment consistently registered consistent readings, but those readings were inconsistently incorrect.

Originally, the results showed five of the six competitors achieving personal bests, suggesting the laser system malfunctioned throughout the event, not just for Ryan Crouser’s “23.38m” throw.

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