A strong field was of no match for American Ryan Crouser as he maintained his unbeaten run with yet another victory in the shot put, this time at the Hanzekovic Memorial World Athletics Tour Gold meeting in in Zagreb.
The Olympic champion broke his own meet record by 46 centimeters with a 22.74 heave that also turned out to be the best best throw achieved in Europe since 1988.
In winning his title in Zagbreb, having also taken the title in 2-16 and 2018, Crouser also extended his streak of throwing the iron ball beyond the 22 meters mark for the 31st time this season. None of his rivals have been able to get beyond the mark in 2020.
The victory was a fitting tribute to the event being held in honour of Ivan Ivancic, Yugoslavia’s 1983 world shot put finalist.
The presence of reigning and two-time world champion Joe Kovaks and former European champion David Strorl only spurred Crouser to go one better in the competition.
Crouser started his campaign with a below par 21.03m, but it was still enough to take an early lead. Storl took a short-lived lead in round two with 21.20m before Kovacs took a turn in top spot with 21.30m. It only enraged Crouser, who was back atop the standings with a 22.10m to close out round two.
The 27-year-old followed it up with the 22.74m in round three. Crouser fouled his next throw but finished off with 22.59m and 22.31m in the next two rounds to cement his dominance in the event.
“I was really happy with the night, that’s one of my top-10 throws. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t throw a little bit further, I was really hoping for the 23. I think there is still a 23-metre throw there; I just have to let it happen,” said Crouser, who have virtually made the shot put his personal domain this season.
Huge comp in Zagreb tonight:@JoeKovacsUSA vs @RCrouserThrows— Continental Tour Gold (@ContiTourGold) September 14, 2020
World championship gold and silver medallists.
Identical PBs (22.91m = #3 all-time).
Best shot put comp in history last time they met outdoors.@IWCH_Zagreb #ContinentalTourGold https://t.co/sOYqMfFvM8 pic.twitter.com/tha9bEg30t
The shot put is traditionally held on the eve of the main competition that starts today. While the ongoing pandemic has restricted participation of many of the top athletes, Zagreb has still lined up a strong field including multiple world and Olympic discus champion Sandra Perkovic.
It will only be the second competition for the 30-year-old Croatian two-time Olympic champion this season. She managed a 65.03m in winning in Split in March. The six-time Diamond League overall winner has a personal best of 71.41m.
Defending champion Amel Tuka of Bosnia is also back to defend his 800m crown. The World silver medallist will be up against a strong field that includes USA’s Bryce Hoppel and the British duo Jake Wightman and Daniel Rowden.
Tuka, who has a persona best of 1:42.51 in hoping to take a crack at the meet record of 1:44.08 in what would be his third race of the year.
Turkey’s 2017 world 200m champion Ramil Guliyev will be aiming to add the century dash to his name.
The women’s high jump has a strong line up with the Ukranian duo of Yaroslava Mahuchikh and Yuliya Levchenko continuing their personal battle this season.