Elliott Denman has written for my publications since 1990. He is a 1956 Olympian in the Race Walk, the 50k race walk, mind you.
Now, at the charming age of 86, I believe Elliott is missing his very first World Championships, as he had attended from 1983-2022.
Elliott is covering the Budapest Champs from lovely New Jersey; this is his first column.
I just saw Elliott at the NYC Grand Prix, and it was great to see one of my favorite writers. Elliott’s style is much like an ee cummings poem, and he still uses AOL (some of you have no idea what that was or is).
Elliott writes this column out of concern and awe for Ryan Crouser and, having survived enough health issues of his own, some experience.
IT WAS RYAN CROUSER’S CALL:
TO BUDAPEST OR NOT.
WAS IT THE RIGHT ONE?
The first thing I did Saturday on seeing Ryan Crouser bombing one out to 23.51 meters – convertible, you imperial-system, damn-the-rest-of-the-world, resist-change-at-all-costs deep thinkers, to 77 feet, one and three-quarter inches – and winning his second World Championships gold medal in the shot put, to go along with his two Olympic golds – was jump for considerable joy, straight out of my TV-side living room chair.
It was one hell of a pressure performance. The Budapest fans loved it; TV-glued fans did some joy-jumping of their own and further solidified the 30-year-old’s status as the greatest 16-pound cannonball launcher in the history of humanity.
Yes, the Human Howitzer, out of Boring, Oregon; Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, the University of Texas, and 320-pound son of one of the most accomplished families ever to grace the all-time start list of the “Flagship Sport of the Olympic Games, had come through once again.
This sixth-round toss was the second-best in track history – just five centimeters back of his own world record and gave him 10 of the 11 best tosses on the all-time charts.
Ryan Crouser broke the Champs record twice in the Men’ Shot Put final! photo by Kevin Morris
So there was glory in it for all – Team USA, Team Crouser, Team Nike, Team Oregon, Team Texas – and enthusiasts of this man’s competitive calling who are quite likely these days to be found In all precincts on this planet.
That’s what a massive mark in his sport’s biggest competitive event – this side of the Olympic Games, anyway – is supposed to do. Get folks fired up, get them to dream this event’s next barriers ready to be broken – 24 meters (which is 78-9)? 80 feet? 82 feet? Maybe, just maybe, somewhere soon, maybe just down the line, coming to a shot put ring near you in short order, as soon as this mighty man really masters the newfound technique he calls “The Crouser Glide.”
Having said all that, I want to say I’m so very sorry I had to say all that.
And that’s because I fretted furiously over Mr. Ryan Crouser’s decision to jet off to Hungary and even compete in these 19th World Championships.
To explain: Backtrack a few days to mid-last week.
Crouser had told global media that he was dealing with two recently-diagnosed blood clots in his left leg. He added that, after battling pain for 10 days, he’d consulted with his medical team, did some further reviews with his physical therapists, checked a whole lot of assorted options …and made his decision.
So yes, it became. He flew off to Hungary…and the rest is now track and field history.
Gold and all, though, the bigger question lingers.
Was it really the right call?
With a little more googled research, I got through to the critical passages and concluded.
And, folks, it was a “no.” And “no” again.
Consider these words straight from The Mayo Clinic:
“A blood clot in the leg, particularly the deep veins, is dangerous; the blood clot can break free and travel to the lungs, where it blocks blood flow and causes a condition known as pulmonary embolism.
“ Blood thinners and clot busters are medications intended to dissolve blood clots. Clotbusters are dangerous, however, because they can cause extensive bleeding, so they are used only when blood thinners have failed. An implanted filter is used to catch the blood clot before it can block blood flow to the lungs.
Ryan Crouser takes Budapest shot put! 19 Aufust 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
“ When symptoms are present, they include swelling in the affected leg and pain. The pain often starts in the calf and feels like cramping or general soreness. If a blood clot breaks free, it can cause a pulmonary embolism,”
And just a little more research told me this about pulmonary embolisms:
“A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lungs, which can be serious and potentially lead to death. When left untreated, the mortality rate is up to 30%, but when treated early, the mortality rate is 8%. Acute onset of pulmonary embolism can cause people to die suddenly 10% of the time.”
That dear readers, is enough for me.
It scared the hell out of me, it should have scared the hell out of you, and it should have scared the hell out of Ryan Crouser.
For now, this story had a golden-glorious-glittering ending.
But what if it hadn’t – and something truly horrendous had taken place in Budapest?
It would have been track and field’s all-time shocker.
It would have been one we’d all have had to deal with the rest of our days.
And all the marvels we’d all expect to be next up, emanating from the SP rings of the world, by this maybe-once-in-a-lifetime athlete, would simply be relegated to one more entry on the all-time coulda-shoulda-woulda list.
Ryan Crouser, World Athletics Championships
August 19-27, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
Bottom Lines: Blood clots must never-ever be pushed aside as major inconveniences. Ryan Crouser – consider yourself incredibly fortunate that nothing goshawul happened in Hungary. And if you had to make this call all over again – stay home. Life’s too short and precious to trade off for a gold medal and a few more entries in the record books.