Olympic 800m gold medal favorite Athing Mu will open her title pursuit at the Tokyo 2020 Games when she bows into action on Thursday night. The talented American champion, dubbed a prodigy after her exceptional performances this year, enters the Games confident of extending her fruitful form this season.
Mu will step on the track for the heat of the women’s 800m at the Olympic Stadium as the world leader after clocking 1:56.07 at the 2021 U.S. Trials. She will start in heat three of the event in her quest to become the first American woman to win the gold at the discipline in more than 50 years.
“Being a prodigy is something I’ve always wanted to be,” she said. “It’s awesome to be called that.”
The 19-year-old will go up against a few experienced competitors in her first Olympic race with Melissa Bishop-Nriagu of Canada and Poland’s Joanna Jóźwik – the fourth and fifth place finishers at Rio 2016. Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia will also start in the heat.
The field at Tokyo 2021 is loaded with talented women, including four others who have dipped under the 1:57 barrier already this year.
Rose Mary Almanza of Cuba, the second-fastest in the world this year, will line up in the fifth heat against Australian Catriona Bisset and Alexandra Bell who was a late call up to the Great Britain team after Laura Muir elected to withdraw from the 800m to focus on just the 1500m.
Jamaica Olympic Trials champion Natoya Goule will race in heat two where she is expected to cruise through the round. Her heat will include Uganda world champion Halimah Nakaayi, Kenyan 2013 world champion, and 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Eunice Jepkoech Sum, along with Katharina Trost of Germany.
Heat six will pit together American Ajeé Wilson and British star Jemma Reekie, the 2019 European U23 champion over the 800m and 1500m.
Reekie has a personal best of 1:56.96, which she set in Monaco earlier this month, while Wilson who finished third at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials will be hoping to peak at the right time for these Games, following her 1:57.85 run in a mixed-gender race in Philadelphia on July 17.
Ethiopia’s Werkwuha Getachew, another sub-1:57 runner this season, World Championships bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers of the USA, and European indoor champion Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain will all bow into action in the 800m heats on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a new Olympic champion will be crowned this year after South Africa’s Caster Semenya was not allowed to defend her title at Tokyo 2020.
Who will be crowned the new Olympic champion in Japan? I can’t wait to see it!
For a complete starting list of the women’s 800m, click here