Olympic shot put champion Ryan Crouser will lead a power-packed shot put field at the Prefontaine Classic, the third stop of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League series, on 27 May in Eugene, Oregon.
Crouser will get much of the attention as he will compete in his home state for the first time since capturing Olympic gold in Rio last summer with a dominating display of putting that saw him win by almost a metre.
Crouser is from a family of throwers – dad Mitch, uncles Dean and Brian, and cousins Sam and Haley – with numerous state high school titles, national high school records and collegiate championships among them. Ryan won world youth shot gold in 2009, set two still-standing high school records in 2011 in the discus (72.40m/ 1.62kg implement) and indoor shot put (23.54m/ 5.44kg implement), and won four NCAA titles for the University of Texas.
It was only after graduating with a Master’s degree in finance last May that Crouser could finally focus all of his concentration on throwing, giving way to his mammoth Olympic performance, where he set a personal best of 22.52m.
The 2017 season has already seen the benefits of Crouser’s determination. In two meets in February in New Zealand he recorded five efforts beyond 22 metres, topped by a world-leading 22.15m.
Deep field assembled
Crouser will be joined by three other major gold medallists – along with the 2016 Olympic silver and bronze medallists.
Joe Kovacs was the silver medallist in Rio. He owns the farthest effort in the field at 22.56m from 2015, the year he turned his first major international competition into a gold medal at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. He has won the past two Pre Classic titles and was the Diamond Trophy winner in 2015.
New Zealand’s Tom Walsh earned the bronze medal in Rio and later in the summer twice did what no one else in the world has done since the Olympics – defeat Crouser. Those efforts, both lifetime bests at the time, helped him dethrone Kovacs as the Diamond Race winner. The Kiwi star is no stranger to throwing far in Oregon, having won the world indoor title in Portland last year.
The fourth gold medallist in the field actually has two, the 2011 and 2013 world champion David Storl, who claimed the titles at the ages of 21 and 23 respectively. The German, now 26, also has four major silver medals, including at the 2012 Olympics. He is Germany’s third farthest ever at at 22.20m, trailing only former world record-holders Udo Beyer and Ulf Timmermann.
Kurt Roberts did not make last year’s US Olympic team but the rest of his 2016 season was strong. A former NCAA Division II champion from Ashland in Ohio, he won his first US title last year indoors.
Franck Elemba is from the Republic of the Congo and made a big splash in Rio, finishing fourth after being in the bronze medal position until the fifth round when Walsh overtook him. He has set national records every year since 2010, when he first made international notice and his PB was just 15.90m. His best of 21.20m is behind only South Africa’s Jannus Roberts and Nigeria’s Stephen Mozia all-time among African putters.
The youngest in the field is Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki, who will turn 20 on 17 March. He is another familiar face at Hayward Field, having won the world U20 title there in 2014. He successfully defended that title last year and finished fourth at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016. Earlier this month, he won the European indoor title in Belgrade with a huge PB of 21.97m.
The eighth spot in this incredible field will go to the athlete throwing best outdoors this spring.
Organisers for the IAAF
2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar
5 May – Doha, QAT
13 May – Shanghai, CHN
27 May – Eugene, USA
8 Jun – Rome, ITA
15 Jun – Oslo, NOR
18 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
1 Jul – Paris, FRA
6 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
9 Jul – London, GBR
16 Jul – Rabat, MAR
21 Jul – Monaco, MON
20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
24 Aug – Zurich, SUI
1 Sep – Brussels, BEL