Ryan Crouser winning at the IAAF World Challenge Meeting in Zagreb (© Organisers)
Olympic champion Ryan Crouser and world champion Joe Kovacs will face-off for the just the second time since their epic showdown at last year’s World Championships at the 70th edition of the Hanzekovic Memorial, a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Zagreb, Croatia, on 14 September.
For the sixth year, the shot put competition honouring Ivan Ivancic, a standout shot putter and throws coach, will be held at Zagreb’s City Fountains on the eve of the meeting’s main programme, and again will feature one of the best shot put fields assembled this year.
Crouser, who set the meeting record of 22.28m in 2016, has been on a tear this season, improving his personal best to 22.91m and throwing 22.72m in Des Moines last Saturday, reaching beyond the 22-metre line with each of his six attempts.
With that kind of form, organisers are planning to add a 23-metre mark to the shot put area as Kovacs suggested they do last year. He went on to throw 22.91m, the third farthest effort of all-time, to beat Crouser by a lone centimetre to take the world title. The pair have met just once since, at the Millrose Games in New York in February where Crouser prevailed, 22.19m to 21.34m.
The field also includes Italy’s Leonardo Fabbri who improved to 21.99m at the Italian Championships last weekend, Germany’s two-time world champion David Storl, and Americans Nick Ponzio and Payton Otterdahl, currently fourth and ninth, respectively, on the 2020 world season’s list.
Organisers for World Athletics