What’s USA team for athletics and track field at Tokyo Olympics 2021?
The U.S. Olympic Track & Field roster is in place for the Games featuring a bevy of veterans combined with a legion of 81 first-time Olympians.
The U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team was largely decided at the Olympic Trials, which took place from June 18-27, except for the marathoners who qualified through a separate trial in 2020. The top three finishers in each event at the trials joined the Olympic roster.
Team USATF boasts thirteen defending medalists from the 2016 Rio Games, six defending 2019 World Champions, and eight 2021 NCAA Division I Champions. Athletics is set to begin on Friday, 30 July at 9:00 a.m. JST in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.
The U.S. squad is headlined by a group of sprinters aiming to fill the giant void left by the absence of Usain Bolt. The retired Jamaican superstar will not be present at the Games for the first time since 2000. Bolt had won the gold for the 100-meter and 200-meter golds at the last three Olympics.
Who are the US track and field athletes?
The Team USA squad is made up of experienced headliners such as five-time Olympian Allyson Felix (400m) and 44-year-old Abdi Abdirahman (marathon) combined with 19 collegiate first-timers.
Team USATF’s youngest athlete is 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton, who turned pro in 2021 after his junior year of high school. Knighton set two world junior records last month at Hayward Field in Oregon.
At 19-years-old, Athing Mu is the second youngest athlete. Mu dominated NCAAs and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials last month. She is expected to be a medal contender in the women’s 800m.
Perhaps the most anticipated events for Team USATF are the Women’s 400m hurdles and the Men’s shot put. Defending Olympic and World Champion Dalilah Muhammad will once again go up against fellow American Sydney McLaughlin, who broke Muhammad’s world record at the finals of the Olympic Trials.
Americans dominated the Men’s shot put at various international team competitions recently -- a trend that is expected to continue. Reigning Olympic champion Ryan Crouser raised expectations after taking home the gold medal and setting a new world record (23.37m/76-8.25) at the Olympic Trials. Defending World Champion Joe Kovacs is another athlete to follow in the Japanese capital.
JuVaughn Harrison, the Olympic Trials champion in both long jump and high jump, is the first man in nearly 100 years to double in the Men’s high jump and long jump and is expected to double in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, two-time Olympic silver medalist Will Claye is a contender in the men’s triple jump returning from a near-career-ending Achilles injury from 2019.
Gabby Thomas qualified for the team in the 200 meters after running a 21.61 race, the third-fastest time in history.
Brittney Reese, the Olympic gold and silver medalist, four-time world champion, and eight-time USATF Champion in the Women’s long jump, will participate in her fourth Olympic Games.
Moreover, there are three current outdoor world record holders: Crouser, McLaughlin, and Women’s 100m hurdler Keni Harrison, while Grant Holloway and Crouser hold world Indoor records.
In addition to world records, reigning American record-holders competing in their events at the Tokyo Olympic Games include DeAnna Price (Women’s hammer throw), Rudy Winkler (Men’s hammer throw), Ajee’ Wilson (Women’s 800m), Sam Kendricks (Men’s pole vault), Sandi Morris (Women’s pole vault), Tori Franklin (Women’s triple jump), Valarie Allman (Women’s discus), Kara Winger (Women’s javelin) and Courtney Frerichs (Women’s 3,000m steeplechase).
Athletes to watch at the Olympics
It will be Felix's fifth Olympics and her first as a mother. Felix, 35, gave birth to her daughter, Camryn, via emergency C-section at 32 weeks in 2018. A year after giving birth, Felix criticized her then-sponsor Nike for its poor maternity policies.
If Felix were to win a medal in Tokyo, she would tie Carl Lewis' record for the most Olympic medals by an American track and field athlete.
It will be the first Olympics for Lyles. He's the reigning world champion in the 200 meters and won the race at trials in June.
Lyles, 23, is the top-ranked sprinter in the world in the 200 meters and has recorded the fastest time this season at 19.74 seconds.
Lyles is known for at times repping a fingerless black glove on his left hand and lifting his gloved fist when introduced before races to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The women's 400-meter hurdles will be one of the star races at the Olympics. McLaughlin will face Rio gold medalist and teammate Dalilah Muhammad.
McLaughlin was just 16 at the Rio Games, making her the youngest American to compete in Olympic track and field since 1972.
At the U.S. track and field Olympic trials last June, McLaughlin became the first woman to break the 52-second barrier with a time of 51.90 seconds.
Berry will compete for the second time in the Olympic Games after finishing third in the hammer throw at last month's Olympic trials. She has the world's fourth-best mark of the year at 76.79 meters.
Berry, 32, turned away from the U.S. flag while the national anthem played during the medal ceremony at the Olympic Trials. She told the media that she "will not stand for any type of symbol or song that does not stand for all people in America."