NZ world champ Tom Walsh says ongoing protests from Ryan Crouser were 'bad form'
Shots fired. Tom Walsh doesn't do grudges, but the new king of the men's shot put world doesn't sweep things under the carpet either.
And New Zealand's history making athlete, in a brutally honest interview with Stuff from London, has labelled American Olympic champion Ryan Crouser's double post-competition protest at the IAAF World Championships as "bad form" and the wrong way to go about his first competition defeat in 2017.
Crouser, who had won all eight of his meets this season prior to the world championships, finished a disappointing sixth in London with a best legal throw of 21.20 metres – a whopping 1.45m off his season's best in the US in June, and 83cm behind Walsh's winning distance.
But he did protest, not once but twice, a red-flagged third-round throw of 22.31m that would, if legal, have won him the event. The only problem was that he seemed unprepared to accept no for an answer.
Crouser, along with compatriot and silver medallist Joe Kovacs (for a sixth-round red-flagged throw of 22.08m), lodged protests immediately after the competition concluded on Monday (NZT). Both were thrown out by IAAF officials soon after.
But then Crouser, via his US team, submitted a second protest that carried over into the next day and had still not been resolved until just before the medals were handed out at London's Olympic stadium.
That left Walsh, the first Kiwi male to make the podium at a world champs, let alone claim gold, and fellow medallists Kovacs and Croatia's Stipe Zunic not aware whether they were set to be handed the medals they had won on the day until just prior to heading out to the track.
Walsh also revealed that he had been left stunned when Crouser turned up to the warmup area of the track in his full medal ceremony attire, which left the Kiwi unsure whether the American knew something he did not.
All in all the post-competition events have left somewhat of a sour taste for the amiable Timaru-based Christchurch athlete, and he made it abundantly clear that he felt Crouser had let himself down with his reaction to his first defeat in 2017.
"The thing that disappoints me is the way Crouser went about it," Walsh told stuff.co.nz from London, just before discovering he had competed with a groin tear that would not prevent him taking part in the business end of the Diamond League season.
"Joe took the answer that they gave him the first time, and was like, 'cool, they've made a decision, so that's that'.
"To be honest, if I was in their position I would have done the same. It (the call) was close.
"But the way Crouser went about it 24 hours afterwards, turning up to the warmup track just before our medal ceremony in his podium attire ... I saw him and was like, 'what' going on? Am I meant to know something?'
"It was just the wrong way to go about it, in my opinion, and I know a lot of other guys around the circuit think the same. In the medal ceremony room before we went out we still didn't know [what was happening].
"It wasn't only going to affect me, it was also going to affect Joe and Stipe who was winning his first ever medal (at a major championships), and that meant a hell of a lot to him."
Walsh hoped that it was a situation Crouser would learn from and one day accept he could have acted in a better fashion.
"Maybe he'll realise what he's done in a little bit of time, but I think it was just bad form. It's done now and we need to move on.
"I'm not going to hold a grudge. If he still wants to talk about it, I'm not going to talk about it. For me it's over and Ryan might figure out in a little bit of time that he acted not in the right way. Sometimes that takes longer for some people to realise than others."
Walsh said he had not spoken to Crouser since the event, but had heard from Kovacs.
"Joe was in the medal room with us and didn't like how they went about it ... he said 'look mate, this is what I did, this is why I did it', and we were 'that's all good mate'. Then he said about Crouser, that's not the right way to do it."
Walsh said the result was a "very weird" atmosphere in the medal room with so much uncertainty about.
"Usually it's very laid back and everyone is enjoying themselves. But no-one knew till we just about were on the podium ... and that was when we could enjoy it. And we did enjoy it from then on out."