INDIANAPOLIS -- Overwhelming fan votes earned Ryan Crouser (Fayetteville, Arkansas) USATF Athlete of the Week after a historic shot put series, and Mike Powell the 23rd USATF Throwback Athlete of the Week award for setting a world record in the men’s long jump on August 30, 1991. In the absence of regular competition during the Covid-19 pandemic, we are taking a weekly look back at some of the great efforts by American track and field athletes through the years.

Crouser dominated the Blue Oval Showcase at Drake University with the best shot put series since Italy’s Alessandro Andrei thrice broke the world record in 1987. The reigning Olympic champion hit his best mark in round two with a massive 22.72m/74-6.5, and all six of his throws were better than 22m. Crouser had four throws better than 74 feet and averaged 22.57m/74-0.75 on his six attempts. Earlier in the week, Crouser won a special competition in the same stadium with a 22.56m/74-0.25, and his 10 legal throws in the two meets all bettered 22m.
 
Powell won the greatest men’s long jump competition in history at the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo, turning back Olympic legend Carl Lewis with a fifth-round jump of 8.95m/29-4.5 to finally break the previous world record of 8.90m/29-2.5, set by Bob Beamon at Mexico City in 1968. Lewis was favored going into the final in Tokyo and his opening attempt of 8.68m/28-5.75 stamped him as the man to beat. Powell had a modest 7.85m/25-9.25 in the first stanza but improved to 8.54m/28-0.25 in round two. Lewis responded in round three with a huge wind-aided 8.83m/28-11.75, at the time the third-best jump ever in all conditions. 
 
After the order of competitors was rearranged for the final three attempts, Powell fouled his fourth round jump and Lewis closed out the round with the longest jump in history, an 8.91m/29-2.75. Celebration was preempted, though, when the wind gauge showed an illegal 2.9 mps aiding breeze. With the pressure on and only two jumps left for each man, Powell came through with his historic leap, followed by a wild celebration when 8.95 flashed up on the scoreboard. Beamon’s record had finally been broken. Lewis wasn’t done, trying valiantly to claim gold and the WR, but even his titanic 8.87m/29-1.25 and 8.84m/29-0 efforts in rounds five and six fell just short. Lewis ended up with the best series ever, but Powell came away with gold and the prized world record.
 
Retiring with five Olympic and World Championships medals to his credit, including a pair of Worlds golds in 1991 and 1993, Powell has continued to be involved in the sport at many levels, including as a coach. His daughter, Micha Powell, competed collegiately for Maryland as a 400m runner and has represented Canada internationally.
 
Other historical performances of note from the August 24-30 period in USATF history:
 

  • August 24 — John Pennel World record in men’s pole vault, 5.20m/17-0.75 at Coral Gables, Florida in 1963
  • August 25 — Earlene Brown American records in women’s shot put and discus, 14.26m/46-9.5 and 44.31m/145-4 at Washington, D.C. in 1956
  • August 26 — Nellie Todd American record in women’s long jump, 5.46m/17-11 at Chicago in 1928
  • August 27 — Leo Sexton World record in men’s shot put, 16.16m/53-0.25 at Freeport, New York in 1932
  • August 28 — Pam Spencer American record in women’s high jump, 1.97m/6-5.5 at Brussels, Belgium in 1981
  • August 29 — Bob Roggy American record in men’s javelin, 95.80m/314-4 at Stuttgart, Germany in 1982

 
Other notable performances from the past week included:

  • Lynna Irby was named the women’s athlete of the meet at the Blue Oval Showcase, winning the 200m in a windy 22.52
  • Sam Prakel sprinted away over the final 50m to win the men’s USATF 1 Mile Championships at Des Moines in 3:58.3
  • Emily Lipari won her second women’s USATF 1 Mile Championships in three years, clocking 4:29.3
  • Maggie Montoya won the Sunset Tour women’s 10,000m in a U.S.-leading 32:11.48

 
Now in its 19th year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on USATF.org. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.