By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
Shot put world champion Ryan Crouser measures progress at the moment not so much by distance but by the decreasing size of the two blood clots in his left leg.
In that regard, everything is trending in the right direction for the 30-year-old who was diagnosed with the clots just before his win at world championships last month. His medication has been working and shrinking the clots, along with improving the flow rate around them.
This weekend, Crouser closes the book on a season that’s seen him unveil a modernized shot-put style — dubbed the “ Crouser Slide ” — break his own world record, go through his health scare and win a world title in Budapest, Hungary, in spite of the blood clots.
Just one more meet, the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, as part of the Diamond League final, and it’s straight into vacation mode. Soon, Crouser will be on a boat in Mexico and reeling in marlin with his fly-fishing rod.
He may even squeeze in some fishing before he competes Sunday at Hayward Field.
“I always joke that there’s a correlation between how far I’m throwing and how much fishing I’m doing,” Crouser said. “So hopefully we can bump that distance up with a couple of fishing trips. I did bring some (fishing) flies with me — just in case.”
There will be plenty of star power around the track for the Diamond League finale. Noah Lyles and Sha’Carri Richardson, the men’s and women’s 100-meter world champions, will be there. So, too, are 400-meter hurdles world champions Karsten Warholm and Femke Bol, along with 1,500-meter winner Faith Kipyegon and pole-vault champ Mondo Duplantis.
One last go-around before taking a breather and getting ready for the Paris Olympics next summer.
The Prefontaine Classic is almost like a home meet for Crouser, who grew up in Oregon, went to school at Texas and lives in Arkansas. He’s right at home at Hayward, too, breaking the world record for the first time at the 2021 U.S. Olympic trials.
Just don’t expect that world record to be broken this weekend after a long season.
But don’t bet against the world record falling, either.
“Physically, I’m past my peak. But you can always have outlier throws,” Crouser said. “Just go out there and just compete, compete my best on the day and throw well and hopefully go out there and surprise myself.”
He certainly surprised himself in Budapest. He wasn’t even sure he was going to make it to the meet after being diagnosed with blood clots.
He wasn’t sure if he could defend his title, either, after missing training time.
“I had a lot of factors going against me,” said Crouser, who turned in a championship-record attempt of 23.51 meters (77 feet, 1 3/4 inches). “So to do that? Have that performance? It’s probably the (medal) I’m the most proud of out of anything in my career.”
For Crouser, the season really began last December when he tinkered with his mechanics and found success with a revamped technique. He shifted his starting position about 60 degrees clockwise inside the shot-put circle. He also started with a quick step early in his approach — almost like a sprinter’s burst — to generate more speed and create more radius and more rotation.
With that, the “Crouser Slide” was hatched.
Ever since, he’s been honing it in. The two-time Olympic champion broke his own world record in May with his attempt of 23.56 (77-3 3/4). These days, he’s fielding calls to see if he might be available to teach his technique.
“The thing with the step-across technique is that I don’t think it’s a beginning technique,” Crouser said. “I see kids wanting to do it, but if anyone is wanting to try it, I would say really hammer the fundamentals and get your classic spin down before trying the step-across.”
Crouser just makes it seem easy. And he was gearing up for a big distance in Budapest until the blood clots.
He said he’s been responding well to treatment and a recent medical checkup revealed good news that the clots were decreasing in size. He could be off blood-thinning medication sometime in October and back to his regular routine as he prepares to defend his Olympic title in Paris.
Crouser said the medication has left him feeling “a little bit more flat. My training is down a little bit.”
He’s looking forward to getting away for a bit with his cousin and catching some fish in Mexico (a bucket-list trip, Crouser explained). He also just treated himself to a new lithium battery for his boat as a reward for winning at worlds.
“Shot putting is really getting in the way of my professional bass-fishing career,” Crouser said with a laugh.
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