The American launches shot to 22.52m to take title and lead US 1-2 in Rio, while Dalilah Muhammad wins 400m hurdles and Sara Kolak secures javelin success
Ryan Crouser beat his world champion team-mate Joe Kovacs to the shot put title and he did it in style, launching the implement to 22.52m to break the Olympic record.
Crouser might not have had any senior championships experience but he stepped up on the global stage in Rio with three throws over 22 metres, any of which would have been enough for the win ahead of Kovacs, whose best of 21.78m secured him the silver ahead of New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh with 21.36m.
The 23-year-old winner had claimed victory over Kovacs at the US trials with 22.11m but his more experienced team-mate topped the global rankings with 22.13m ahead of the competition.
The pair opened with throws of 21.15m and 21.78m respectively, but while Crouser had a consistent series, Kovacs’ included three fouls and he couldn’t improve on his opening effort. Crouser’s record-breaking throw was recorded in the fifth round, the same as Walsh’s best.
Two national records had come early on in the competition as Congo’s Franck Elemba threw 21.20m and Brazil’s Darlan Romani 21.02m and those marks secured them fourth and fifth respectively ahead of Poland’s defending champion Tomasz Majewski, who managed a best of 20.72m from his two valid throws.
In the 400m hurdles pre-race favourite Dalilah Muhammad lived up to expectations as the 2013 world silver medallist claimed USA’s first ever Olympic gold in this event after a dominant performance.
Clocking 53.13, the 26-year-old claimed a clear victory ahead of Sara Slott Petersen with a Danish record 53.55 and USA’s Ashley Spencer with 53.72, while two-time world champion Zuzana Hejnova of Czech Republic ran 53.92 for fourth.
“The reality of winning is even better than the dream,” said Muhammad. “I’m so happy.
“I tightened over the last hurdle but I got it done. I’m so so happy and proud.”
Britain’s Eilidh Doyle had clocked a 54.09 PB to win in Monaco earlier on in the season but the 2014 European and Commonwealth silver medallist couldn’t find that sort of form in the Olympic final.
Her time of 54.61 placed her eighth and she later said: “I look back on the race and think, ‘what did I actually do wrong, I don’t know what I did wrong’ because normally I can say, ‘something at that hurdle or that hurdle’ but there is no hurdle that I felt I hit wrong. I just wasn’t in the race and I don’t know why.”
Sara Kolak had the performance of her life to claim the javelin title as the European bronze medallist threw a Croatian record-breaking 66.18m to get gold ahead of South Africa’s world bronze medallist Sunette Viljoen with 64.92m and Czech Republic’s two-time Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova with 64.80m.
Kolak’s winning throw came from her fourth attempt and while Spotakova responded with her best throw of the competition in the next round it moved her to bronze but no higher.
» Further coverage of Thursday evening’s action, including Usain Bolt’s 200m gold, can be found here