Two different athletes. Two identical aims: to be the best they can be.

As it turns out, the result of that is those athletes becoming the best the world has ever seen, specifically when it comes to the men’s shot put and the women’s indoor 400m.

On Saturday (18), in an exhibition event at the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho, USA’s Ryan Crouser threw 23.38m* for an outright men’s world shot put record.

It was the third world record of his career, after the 22.82m he threw in Fayetteville in January 2021 to improve the world indoor record and the 23.37m he recorded outdoors at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene in June of that year.

Then, on Sunday (19), Femke Bol flew to a women’s world indoor 400m record on the second day of the Dutch Indoor Championships in Apeldoorn, clocking 49.26* to improve the previous record of 49.59 set by Jarmila Kratochvilova in 1982.

Like Crouser, she had also already made history in the sport, her CV featuring a world 300m hurdles best of 36.86 achieved last year in Ostrava, as well as a world indoor 500m best of 1:05.63 set earlier this month in Boston.

And they are just getting started. Crouser has been busy working on a new throwing technique, one that is designed to generate more momentum and increase his radius so he achieves more rotation power.

Bol, meanwhile, is making potentially critical changes to her 400m hurdling style which, when combined with her newfound speed, could lead to similarly swift results outdoors.

This all bodes well in a year that offers global titles to fight for, when the stars in the sport come together for the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 in August


Femke Bol
Born: 23 February 2000. Coach: Laurent Meuwly
22.87i (2023)

400m: 49.26i (2023)
500m: 1:05.63i (2023)
300m hurdles: 36.86 (2022)
400m hurdles: 52.03 (2021)
Femke Bol’s roots are in 400m running. While many of the 22-year-old’s biggest achievements might previously have come in the 400m hurdles, it was in the flat event that she first started out.

As a 15-year-old Bol competed at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Tbilisi, finishing fifth in her 400m heat, but two years later she progressed to the semifinals stage of the 2017 European U20 Championships in Grosseto. After much national age group success in the flat event, she made her 400m hurdles debut in May 2019 and hasn’t looked back, continuing to develop in both disciplines.

After clocking 58.12 in her first 400m hurdles race in Oordegem, Bol improved to 55.94 in Geneva, a performance ­– in only her third ever 400m hurdles race – that qualified her for the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.

Bol returned to the European U20 stage in the lead up to that global event and won 400m hurdles gold in 56.25. A couple of months later she made her senior international debut and set a European U20 record of 55.32 in the heats in Doha, before finishing seventh in her semifinal. She would also help the Dutch 4x400m team to seventh in the final four days later.

Guided by coach Laurent Meuwly together with her previous coach Bram Peters at the Dutch Olympic Training Centre in Papendal since late 2019, Bol has gone on to become the third-fastest 400m hurdler of all time thanks to her 52.03 run during that unforgettable Olympic final in Tokyo, won by Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone in a world record of 51.46. Bol has also become a world silver medallist indoors and outdoors, finishing runner-up to Shaunae Miller-Uibo in the 400m at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 and then placing second to McLaughlin-Levrone in the 400m hurdles at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, where the world record fell again to 50.68. Earlier in Oregon, Bol teamed up with Liemarvin Bonevacia, Lieke Klaver and Tony van Diepen to win mixed 4x400m silver.

After Oregon came Munich, where Bol made even more history by completing an impressive golden treble at the European Championships, winning titles in the 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m.

She rounded off 2022 with 400m hurdles victory in the Wanda Diamond League Final in Zurich.

Bol picked up from where she left off and started 2023 in sensational style, setting a world indoor 500m best of 1:05.63 at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting in Boston. It was the second world best of her career after the world 300m hurdles best of 36.86 she achieved in Ostrava in May 2022.

After that performance in Boston, Bol competed in Metz and clocked an outright 200m PB and a national indoor record of 22.87. She also won the 400m, dipping under 50 seconds indoors for the first time with a 49.96 run.

From there she went to Lievin, where she claimed 400m victory in 50.20 to maintain a win streak that dates back to last August.

Then came the Dutch Indoor Championships and the opportunity to put on a show for home fans in Apeldoorn. She delivered.

Roared around two laps of the track, Bol clocked 49.26 to take 0.33 off the 41-year-old world indoor 400m record, continuing her superb success story.

“It was because of all the fans here that I ran this record,” Bol said after her race at the Omnisport arena. “Never have I ever seen that many people here. When I crossed the line I knew that the record was mine, because of the noise that the crowd made.”

Ryan Crouser
Born: 18 December 1992. Coach: Mario Sategna

Shot put: 
23.37 / 23.38i

Ryan Crouser was born into a throwing dynasty. His father Mitch was a 67.22m discus thrower and 20.04m shot putter who narrowly missed out on making the US Olympic team in 1984. His uncle Dean was also a good all-round thrower with a shot put PB of 21.07m and discus best of 65.88m. Another uncle, Brian, was a javelin specialist with a PB of 95.10m (with the old model) and represented the USA at two Olympic Games. Brian’s son and daughter, Sam and Haley, are also accomplished javelin throwers. Sam is a two-time NCAA champion with a PB of 83.33m while Haley held the North American U20 record at 55.22m back in 2012.

It’s little surprise, then, that Crouser ended up as a thrower. But there’s more to sporting success than just winning the genetic lottery.

Crouser turned professional at the start of the 2016 outdoor season, following a collegiate career that featured multiple NCAA titles, and his progression continued. He won the hotly contested US Olympic Trials with a PB of 22.11m, beating then world champion Joe Kovacs.

But despite showing lots of promise that season, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games would be Crouser’s first major international senior championships and he’d be up against far more experienced competitors.

As it happened, though, Crouser rose to the occasion and dominated the competition. He improved his PB three times – 22.22m, 22.26m and 22.52m – on his way to securing the gold medal and produced the four best throws of the final. His winning mark was an Olympic record and moved him up to 10th on the world all-time list.

Crouser improved his PB to 22.65m to win the 2017 US outdoor title, but could only finish sixth at the World Championships in London later that year. In 2018 he reached a new level of consistency, throwing beyond 22 metres in nine of his 12 competitions that year.

That form continued throughout 2019 and he peaked at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. Unfortunately for Crouser, however, so too did most of the world’s best shot putters.

In what went down as one of the greatest competitions in the history of athletics, Crouser trailed defending champion Tom Walsh for the first five rounds after the New Zealander opened with a mammoth 22.90m. Kovacs, who had been sitting in fourth place, unleashed a monster throw of 22.91m in the last round to take the lead. Crouser – having produced throws of 22.36m, 22.36m and 22.71m in the earlier rounds – sent his shot flying out to almost exactly the same spot as Kovacs, but it came up just one centimetre short of the leading mark and Crouser had to settle for second place with 22.90m.

Crouser moved to Fayetteville in 2020 to train with Arkansas throws coach Mario Sategna and help out with the university’s track and field team. And although the coronavirus pandemic meant no major championships were held in 2020, Crouser was still able to piece together one of the greatest seasons in shot put history.

He won all 11 of his competitions this year, three indoors and eight outdoors. He broke meeting records at 10 of those competitions and improved his PB to 22.91m. No other man in the world threw beyond 22 metres in 2020, but Crouser surpassed the 22-metre line on 36 occasions – more than any other shot putter has achieved across a whole career span.

A 22.58m throw – just eight centimetres shy of the world indoor record – in December 2020 hinted that Crouser’s off-season training was going well. And he confirmed exactly that with his first competition of 2021.

“I’m still in heavy training,” he said after his world indoor record of 22.82m. “I’m excited to see what I can do when I start to taper and work on speed.”

He maintained his winning streak through to the end of his 2021 indoor season and then into his outdoor campaign. In his fourth outdoor competition of the year, he set a lifetime best of 23.01m in Tucson on 22 May, becoming just the third man in history to throw beyond 23 metres.

It told him all he needed to know ahead of the US Olympic Trials, so he kept his powder dry and went back into training until then, ensuring he’d be at his best for Eugene in mid-June. He did exactly that, breaking the world record with a 23.37m throw, and he went on to retain his Olympic title in Tokyo, achieving a 23.30m put.

In 2022, Crouser surpassed 23 metres another four times. He had to settle for second at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, but come the outdoor season he was ready to go for gold again and he duly did so, winning the US title with a 23.12m throw before claiming his first senior world title at the World Athletics Championships on home soil in Oregon.

Crouser opened his 2023 season with a throw of 22.58m at the Millrose Games in New York, during a competition in which he was trying out a new technique for the first time. One week later, he improved to 23.38m at the Simplot Games, adding a centimetre to his own outright world record.

And that throw, which was achieved in the first round of the competition, came from a static start, rather than his new technique, meaning he will hope to go even farther as he perfects his new style.


Women’s world indoor 400m record progression
49.59 Jarmila Kratochvilova (TCH) Milan 1982
49.26* Femke Bol (NED) Apeldoorn 2023

Bol’s 400m progression
2015: 56.14 
2016: 54.95 / 55.95i
2017: 54.39 / 54.47i
2018: 54.33 / 54.58i
2019: 52.98 / 53.24i
2020: 51.13 / 52.47i
2021: 50.37 / 50.63i
2022: 49.44 / 50.30i
2023: 49.26i

Men’s outright world shot put record progression
20.06m Bill Neider (USA) Walnut 1960
20.08m Dallas Long (USA) Los Angeles 1962
20.10m Dallas Long (USA) Los Angeles 1964
20.20m Dallas Long (USA) Los Angeles 1964
20.68m Dallas Long (USA) Los Angeles 1964
21.52m Randy Matson (USA) College Station 1965
21.78m Randy Matson (USA) College Station 1967
21.82m Al Feuerbach (USA) San Jose 1973
21.85m Terry Albritton (USA) Honolulu 1976
22.00m Aleksandr Baryshnikov (URS) Colombes 1976
22.15m Udo Beyer (GDR) Gothenburg 1978
22.22m Udo Beyer (GDR) Los Angeles 1983
22.62m Ulf Timmermann (GDR) Berlin 1985
22.64m Udo Beyer (GDR) Berlin 1986
22.72m Alessandro Andrei (ITA) Viareggio 1987
22.84m Alessandro Andrei (ITA) Viareggio 1987
22.91m Alessandro Andrei (ITA) Viareggio 1987
23.06m Ulf Timmermann (GDR) Chania 1988
23.12m Randy Barnes (USA) Westwood 1990
23.37m Ryan Crouser (USA) Eugene 2021
23.38i* Ryan Crouser (USA) Idaho 2023

Crouser’s shot put progression
2011: 19.48i
2012: 19.32 / 20.29i
2013: 21.09
2014: 21.39 / 21.23i
2015: 21.11 / 21.14i
2016: 22.52 / 21.73i
2017: 22.65
2018: 22.53
2019: 22.90 / 22.33i
2020: 22.91 / 22.60i
2021: 23.37 / 22.82i
2022: 23.12 / 22.51i
2023: 23.38

*Subject to the usual ratification procedure

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