Ryan Crouser (born December 18, 1992) is an American shot putter and discus thrower. Crouser won the gold medal in the shot put at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. He had previously won the gold medal in the boys' shot put at the 2009 World Youth Championships and was a two-time NCAA champion in the shot both indoors and outdoors for the University of Texas.
Crouser was born in Boring, Oregon on December 18, 1992. He belongs to a family of throwers; his father Mitch Crouser was an alternate on the 1984 Olympic discus team, his uncle Brian Crouser qualified for two Olympic teams in the javelin, his other uncle Dean Crouser was a good shot putter and discus thrower, and his cousins Sam and Haley are both javelin throwers. He took up track and field in fifth grade, but was initially not as good as his cousin Sam; he made his breakthrough in eighth and ninth grade.
In 2009, his sophomore year at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, Oregon, Crouser set a national sophomore record with the 3.58 lb (1.62 kg) high school discus, throwing 202 ft 6 in (61.72 m); the mark was also the Oregon high school state record until Sam Crouser broke it the following year. Crouser won both the 5 kg shot and the 1.5 kg discus at the 2009 national youth championships, and was selected for the IAAF World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy in both events. In Bressanone he took gold in the shot put, breaking the championship record with a 21.56 m (70 ft 9 in) put in the fifth round; in the discus he won silver.
Crouser's 2010 season was hampered by a foot injury. He returned to top shape in 2011, breaking the national high school indoor record in the 12 lb (5.44 kg) shot put with 77 ft 2 3⁄4 in (23.54 m); the mark placed him second behind Mike Carter's outdoor record on the all-time national high school list. Outdoors, he broke the national high school record in the discus, throwing 237 ft 6 in (72.40 m) to add one foot to Mason Finley's record from 2009. Crouser graduated from Barlow High after the 2011 season; he chose to go to the University of Texas instead of the family's traditional choice of Oregon.
As a collegiate freshman with the Texas Longhorns, Crouser placed fifth in the shot at the 2012 NCAA indoor championships and fourth in the discus at the outdoor championships; he injured his hand at the NCAA indoor meet, and the injury also affected his outdoor season.
Crouser suffered from infections during the next off-season, and his weight dropped heavily; he redshirted the 2013 indoor season to regain full health. He returned to action for the outdoor season, throwing a personal best 21.09 m (69 ft 2 1⁄4 in) at the Big 12 conference championships; he won his first NCAA championship title in the shot put that summer with 20.31 m (66 ft 7 3⁄4 in), but only placed eighth in the discus. Crouser, who had been successful academically, began to struggle somewhat with the heavy workload during his second year at Texas; he had originally planned to major in engineering, but switched to economics after that year.
Crouser won his first NCAA indoor shot put title in 2014, throwing 21.21 m (69 ft 7 in) and winning by almost four feet. He was briefly the outdoor world leader after improving his personal best to 21.27 m (69 ft 9 1⁄2 in) at the Texas Relays on March 28. At the Big 12 outdoor championships he set personal bests and new meeting records in both the shot and the discus, with throws of 21.39 m (70 ft 2 1⁄2 in) and 63.90 m (209 ft 9 in) respectively; it was the first time he broke 70 feet with the 16 lb (7.26 kg) shot. Crouser won his second consecutive shot put title at the 2014 NCAA outdoor championships, with a heave of 21.12 m (69 ft 3 1⁄2 in), but injured his foot in the process; he had also qualified for the final in the discus, but was forced to scratch from that event.
In 2015 Crouser placed second behind Stipe Žunić at the NCAA indoor championships, reaching 20.93 m (68 ft 8 in) on his best attempt. His chances of winning a third consecutive NCAA outdoor title were spoiled as he re-aggravated an old thumb injury at the championships; he placed fifth in both the shot and the discus.
Due to red-shirting the 2013 indoor season, Crouser had one more winter of collegiate eligibility left; as a fifth-year senior, he threw a personal best 21.73 m (71 ft 3 1⁄2 in) at the 2016 Big 12 indoor championships and won his second collegiate indoor title with a put of 21.28 m (69 ft 9 3⁄4 in). Crouser's Big 12 mark equaled Ryan Whiting's collegiate indoor record from 2008; he ranked second behind New Zealand's Tom Walsh on the 2016 world indoor list.
Crouser completed his studies a two-year masters’ degree in finance in 2016 and hired Paul Doyle as his agent. He improved his personal best in the shot to 21.85 m (71 ft 8 1⁄4 in) shortly before the 2016 United States Olympic Trials, and stood second in the U.S on the yearly list, eleven inches behind reigning World Champion Joe Kovacs. In the Olympic Trials, on his second throw of the finals, Crouser uncorked a 22.11 m (72 ft 6 1⁄4 in) to not only win in an upset over Kovacs, but to become the number 18 thrower in history. A few weeks later in Rio de Janeiro, Crouser threw a massive personal best 22.52 m (73-10.75) in the fifth round of the competition, breaking the Olympic Record, and becoming the tenth longest shot putter of all time, to win the gold medal in the 2016 Olympic Games.