REDMOND, Ore. (AP) — The family of shot putter Ryan Crouser erupted into cheers at their house when he clinched the gold medal in Tokyo.
Crouser broke his own Olympic record on his way to defending his shot put title Thursday on a hot day in Tokyo.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” said his mother Lisa Crouser after watching with family and friends in her home in Redmond, Oregon.
On his last attempt, Crouser went 23.30 meters (76 feet, 5½ inches) to earn the first track and field gold medal for the American men at the Tokyo Games. U.S. teammate Joe Kovacs finished second and Tomas Walsh of New Zealand was third.
The 28-year-old Crouser went 22.52 meters when he won at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Crouser is already the world-record holder after breaking a 31-year-old mark on June 18 at the U.S. Olympic trials. His attempt that evening went 23.37 meters.
In the stifling heat at the Olympic Stadium, Crouser took the lead on his first attempt and saved his best for his final one. He clapped his hands — sending chalk dust into the air — and celebrated. He even donned his cowboy hat for the occasion.
His family and friends gathered for a watch party. Wearing “Crouser” shirts, they let out the largest cheer of all when the commentators announced those magical words: “Gold Medalist.”
He was competing with a heavy heart after his grandfather recently died. On a piece of paper, Crouser had a heartfelt message: “Grandpa. We did it. 2020 Olympic champion!”
“He was he had a very special bond with his grandfather,” Lisa Crouser said, adding that the gold medalist would write letters to his grandfather suffering from Parkinson’s disease and deafness.
Ryan Crousers’ uncle, Brian, who was also an Olympian in Javelin, said his father, Larry, was the source of the family’s love of sports.
“The stage is so hard to deliver on and just see what he’s done over and over at this level. It’s just incredible to watch. So incredible sense of pride, super happy for him, super happy for my brother, who spent a lot of time kind of making sure that they stay on the rails and keep moving forward,” Brian Crouser said.