The top track and field athletes heading into the Tokyo Olympics

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Whereas a number of would-be gold-medal threats should not headed to Japan, quite a few reigning Olympic and world champions are set to characterize their nations. A number of world information will probably be in jeopardy. Factoring in accomplishments and 2021 type, here’s a have a look at the highest observe and discipline athletes sure for the Tokyo Video games. 

 

30. Gabby Thomas, USA

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Going into the U.S. trials, the Harvard alum’s finest 200-meter time was 22.17 seconds — good for 323rd all time. After three personal-best races to qualify for her first Olympics, Thomas’ new career-best time — 21.61 — makes her the second-fastest lady ever at this distance. Whereas the present epidemiology grad scholar is a full-on gold-medal risk, she joined three different girls with beforehand unspectacular PRs in blazing to sub-22-second occasions in Eugene, Ore., on the trials. It’s tough to reconcile Thomas’ place, however her speedy rise provides spice to the oft-overlooked dash occasion come Tokyo.

 

29. Athing Mu, USA

Athing Mu, USA

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

This 12 months’s girls’s 800 meters will look significantly completely different. An IAAF rule prohibiting two-time gold medalist Caster Semenya and elite contemporaries Margaret Wambui (Kenya) and Francine Niyonsaba (Berundi) from competing with out curbing their testosterone ranges adjustments the 800 discipline. One of many nice mid-distance prospects in U.S. historical past will profit. Mu, 19, set NCAA 400- and 800-meter information in her freshman slate at Texas A&M, and the New Jersey native blew away a veteran discipline on the U.S. trials. Mu’s trials-record 1:56.07 time leads the world this 12 months. She is gunning to be the primary American lady to win Olympic 800 gold since 1968.

 

28. Trayvon Bromell, USA

Trayvon Bromell, USA

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Monitor will really feel the Usain Bolt void at these Olympics, and these Video games additionally won’t embrace the present world’s quickest man. With Bolt retired, world champion Christian Coleman banned and Justin Gatlin now 39, a comeback story takes middle stage within the males’s dash world. A former world championship bronze medalist, Bromell battled a heel harm on the 2016 Olympics after which spent years off the radar. The 25-year-old St. Petersburg, Fla., native re-emerged in 2021 and leads the world with a 9.77-second 100-meter time. The U.S. trials champion is the gold-medal favourite within the marquee observe occasion.

 

27. Pawel Fajdek, Poland

Pawel Fajdek, Poland

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Fajdek is positioned to examine off the one noticeable gap on his resume. The 32-year-old has gained the previous 4 world titles within the hammer throw however has but to gather an Olympic medal. Winner in his occasion in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, Fajdek completed eleventh as a younger thrower on the 2012 London Video games and didn’t make the hammer last in Rio 4 years later. He’s the primary four-time hammer throw world champion, and his 2021 finest (272 ft, 2 inches) doubles because the world lead going to Tokyo. He sits in prime place to exorcise some big-stage demons.

 

26. Noah Lyles, USA

Noah Lyles, USA

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The world’s high 200-meter runner over the previous three-plus years, Lyles gained the 2019 world title going away after dropping a 19.50-second clocking at age 20 a 12 months earlier. However coming off the COVID-altered 2020 season, Lyles didn’t look himself for many of 2021. He struggled within the 100 last on the trials and has proven vulnerability in his signature occasion. However Lyles, 23, did win the 200 on the trials — in a world-leading 19.74 — and has a number of weeks to craft a brand new peak in Japan. Lyles doesn’t wow out of the blocks, however the fast-finishing Floridian is the fourth-fastest ever at 200 and enters these Video games favored within the occasion. 

 

25. Hellen Obiri, Kenya

Hellen Obiri, Kenya

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These will probably be Obiri’s third Olympics and maybe her last likelihood at a gold medal on the game’s grand stage. Obiri, 31, has gained her signature occasion — the 5,000 meters — in every of the previous two world championships, setting a championship file in 2019. She completed second to fellow Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyut on the 2016 Olympics. Obiri faces a a lot youthful high challenger this 12 months — Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, who has the highest 5,000 time on the earth. The 24-year-old’s finest (14:13.32 seconds) betters Obiri’s championship-record time by 5 seconds, elevating the diploma of problem for the confirmed veteran.

 

24. Elaine Thompson-Herah, Jamaica

Elaine Thompson-Herah, Jamaica

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Within the shadow of ageless countrywoman Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Thompson-Herah is the reigning Olympic 100- and 200-meter champion. A years-long battle with an Achilles harm, nevertheless, has performed a component within the 29-year-old accumulating no extra world gold medals since Rio. That mentioned, solely Fraser-Pryce has run sub-10.8 seconds extra usually than her eight such showings. Thompson, who additionally has a 21.6-second 200 on her resume (from 2015, however nonetheless), completed behind Fraser-Pryce and 400 convert Shericka Jackson on the Jamaican trials however beat the dash legend in Hungary this month. Can she pull the upset in Tokyo?

 

23. Gong Lijiao, China

Gong Lijiao, China

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One of the vital embellished Tokyo-bound athletes, Lijiao has gained eight world medals relationship again to the Beijing Video games in 2008. The 32-year-old shot putter is the two-time reigning girls’s world champion within the occasion and has collected two Olympic medals — bronze in Beijing, at age 19, and silver in London in 2012. Lijiao beat reigning the reigning Olympic champ — American Michelle Carter, who didn’t vie for these Video games because of harm — on the 2017 world championships. Lijiao’s 66-foot, 9-inch throw final month leads the world within the occasion, giving her a main alternative to seize an elusive Olympic gold.

 

Brittney Reese, USA

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Reese ought to be a much bigger title stateside. The all-time lengthy soar nice is one of some girls gunning for Olympic immortality in Tokyo. No lady has gained the identical Olympic observe and discipline occasion (non-relays) thrice. Reese gained gold in London and Rio, along with world titles within the occasion relationship again to 2009, and has now certified for 4 Olympics. The 34-year-old Inglewood, Calif., native’s personal-best mark got here in 2016, however her 23-foot, 4-inch soar to win the U.S. trials ranks third on the earth this 12 months. Reese didn’t medal in 2019 however is again on the map simply in time for a historic pursuit.

 

21. Anita Wlodarczyk, Poland

Anita Wlodarczyk, Poland

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Nineteen of the 21 finest leads to girls’s hammer throw historical past belong to Wlodarczyk, who set the world file 2016 Olympics. Her Rio mark (272 ft, 2 inches) is almost 10 ft higher than some other lady’s finest. Whereas the two-time Olympic champion and four-time world champ is the most effective girls’s hammer thrower ever, she is 35 and has not been in peak type since 2018. A 2019 knee surgical procedure sidelined the Polish star for these world championships, however her 2021 high throw ranks third this 12 months. She joins Reese, sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and discus thrower Sandra Perkovic (Croatia) bidding to be the primary girls to win three Olympic golds in a person occasion.

 

20. DeAnna Worth, USA

DeAnna Price, USA

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Worth will probably be up towards the best girls’s hammer thrower ever (Wlodarczyk), however the gregarious Troy, Mo., product is the reigning world champion and has proven higher type than the Polish kingpin this 12 months. Worth, 28, broke the U.S. file twice on the trials final month. That distance (263 ft, 4 inches) betters everybody else by no less than 7 ft this 12 months. Worth sits behind solely Wlodarczyk on this occasion’s historical past, organising a showdown. No American lady has gained an Olympic medal on this occasion, although it solely debuted on the Video games in 2000.

 

19. Wayde Van Niekerk, South Africa

Wayde Van Niekerk, South Africa

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Van Niekerk has not proven a lot up to now 4 years, with an ACL tear in a celeb rugby match sidetracking the South African’s profession. However he’s certified for Tokyo and his previous dominance can’t be dismissed. Van Niekerk dropped the efficiency of the Rio Video games by breaking Michael Johnson’s 400-meter file, decreasing it to 43.03 seconds regardless of working in lane 8. His ascent additionally included two 400 world titles. Van Niekerk’s return provides the 400 some momentum, with reigning world champion Steven Gardiner (Bahamas) and U.S. budding star Michael Norman additionally sporting sub-43.5-second profession bests.

 

18. Rai Benjamin, USA

Rai Benjamin, USA

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Though the ladies’s 200-meter sprint boasts tantalizing prospects, the boys’s 400-meter hurdles could also be these Olympics’ high observe occasion. Benjamin represents a key motive why. The reigning world silver medalist practically broke a 29-year-old world file on the U.S. trials, demolishing the sector with a 46.84-second clocking. However high rival Karsten Warholm did break Kevin Younger’s mark per week later. It took solely 47.7 to win gold on this occasion in Rio; which may not place sixth in Tokyo. Although Warholm has a slight edge, Benjamin will probably be a dwell underdog in a race that might see the world file lowered once more.

 

17. Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela

Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Whereas the triple soar doesn’t register as one in every of observe and discipline’s glamour occasions, a world file could fall in right here in Tokyo. The silver medalist in 2016, Rojas unseated longtime triple soar boss Caterine Ibarguen (Colombia) by profitable the previous two world championships. Rojas’ finest soar this 12 months — a 50-foot, 6-inch end in Could — leads the world by a large margin and ranks second all time. Her high three jumps rank second, third and fifth in historical past. The 25-year-old expertise is lower than 3 inches from Inessa Kravets’ 26-year-old world file. 

 

16. Keni Harrison, USA

Keni Harrison, USA

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Few athletes will head to Tokyo below extra stress, however Harrison has checked off one key field by merely qualifying for the Video games. The premier 100-meter hurdler would have been a gold-medal risk in 2016 however didn’t make the U.S. crew at these trials. Harrison broke a 28-year-old world file later that summer time however needed to watch as Group USA swept the occasion in Rio. Nobody has come near Harrison’s file (12.20 seconds), however a gold medal eludes her. Harrison, 28, could be the favourite. However that has been the case in previous huge spots. And fellow Kentucky alum Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (Puerto Rico) has dropped this 12 months’s high two occasions.

 

15. Grant Holloway, USA

Grant Holloway, USA

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Months after breaking a decades-old NCAA 110-meter hurdles file, the previous Florida Gator sensation gained the 2019 world title in Qatar. Holloway has taken one other step ahead this 12 months and resides on his personal tier going into Tokyo. The Chesapeake, Va., native dominated a world-class discipline on the U.S. trials and blazed to a 12.81-second clocking within the semifinals. That point is .01 of a second off Aries Merritt’s world file. With reigning Olympic champion Omar McLeod failing to make Jamaica’s crew, Holloway is a runaway favourite for gold. The 23-year-old appears poised to be one in every of this period’s high observe athletes. 

 

14. Johannes Vetter, Germany

Johannes Vetter, Germany

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Whereas Vetter’s pursuit of Jan Zeleny’s 25-year-old world file will probably be confined to “Let’s get an replace on the sector occasions” on NBC, the German has established himself as top-of-the-line javelin throwers in historical past. Vetter, 28, owns seven of the highest 13 marks within the occasion’s historical past. His 315-foot, 9-inch throw in Could topped all 2021 performances by over 22 ft. A gold medalist on the 2017 World Championships and bronze medalist in 2019, Vetter completed simply off the rostrum in on the 2016 Olympics. He would be the gold-medal favourite in Tokyo.

 

13. Joe Kovacs, USA

Joe Kovacs, USA

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Whereas not housing the favorites within the different males’s throwing occasions, the U.S. stays the world’s shot-putting headquarters. The Kovacs-Ryan Crouser rivalry extends to a second Olympics, and whereas Crouser could also be barely forward, his stout competitor is a really dwell canine in Tokyo. He of a squat max round 900 kilos, Kovacs is coached by his spouse and has two world championships and an Olympic silver on his resume. This features a historic competitors in 2019, when his profitable throw eclipsed Crouser’s by 1 centimeter. The Penn State alum ranks high 10 all time within the occasion. This can be the 31-year-old’s last likelihood at Olympic gold.

 

12. Letesenbet Gidey, Ethiopia

Letesenbet Gidey, Ethiopia

Jose Jordan/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

The 23-year-old distance runner has completed loads earlier than her first Olympics. Gidey, 23, will enter these Video games because the world file holder within the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs. One of many quite a few dynamos to return out of the African long-distance powerhouse, Gidey broke countrywoman Trunish Dibaba’s 12-year-old 5,000 file final 12 months and eclipsed the 10K file this 12 months — two days after Sifan Hassan broke it. Gidey will solely run the 10K in Tokyo. Whereas that prolonged race requires a considerable viewing dedication, it’s, as of now, slated to incorporate two girls — Gidey and Hassan — who set a world file in 2021.

 

11. Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Bahamas

Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Bahamas

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Miller-Uibo represents the highest wild card amongst sprinters at these Video games. The 6-foot-1 standout is the reigning 400-meter Olympic champ and has elite 200 chops as properly. These Olympics’ schedule bizarrely prevents a 200-400 double and can power Miller-Uibo to decide on. Whereas the 400 discipline has significantly thinned — because of 400 world champion Salwa Eid Naser‘s ban and different developments — the Georgia alum can be maybe the 200 favourite if she entered that crowded competitors. Miller-Uibo, 27, has this period’s finest likelihood to interrupt Marita Koch’s decades-old, PED-aided 400 world file sooner or later, elevating the stakes for the Caribbean star.

 

10. Joshua Cheptegei, Uganda

Joshua Cheptegei, Uganda

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The lads’s long-distance races will go off with out British icon Mo Farah, the two-time reigning Olympic champ within the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs. Cheptegei is the inheritor obvious. The 24-year-old Ugandan didn’t medal on the Rio Video games, however he was a young person on the time. Since, Cheptegei has damaged world information at each distances. The 2019 10,000 world champion broke Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele’s near-20-year-old information in each races through the COVID-marred 2020 season and can purpose to succeed Farah as observe’s long-distance kingpin in Tokyo.

 

9. Dalilah Muhammad, USA

Dalilah Muhammad, USA

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Ladies’s dash and hurdle information haven’t moved a lot within the twenty first century; Muhammad is chargeable for two such moments. The Queens, N.Y., native broke a 16-year-old 400-meter hurdles file in 2019, on a wet Des Moines day, and lowered it on the world championships two months later. In each races, Muhammad edged burgeoning celebrity Sydney McLaughlin. The pandemic delaying the Video games could have damage Muhammad, now 31 and coming off a COVID-19 bout and a 2021 harm. However she shook off rust and challenged the brand new world-record holder final month. She figures to be in higher type in Tokyo. The final three Muhammad-McLaughlin duels have produced world information.

 

8. Karsten Warholm, Norway

Karsten Warholm, Norway

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After mounting a feverish pursuit of Kevin Younger’s 400-meter hurdle world file in 2020, when the pandemic induced many standouts to condense or bypass their schedules, Warholm didn’t run his main occasion till July of this 12 months. In that race, the energetic Norwegian broke Younger’s file in his native Oslo. Warholm’s 46.70-second time gave him a leg up on Rai Benjamin forward of what’s going to be a hotly anticipated showdown — in a last that must also function some sleeper threats. Warholm, 25, has gained the previous two world titles and has his elusive world file. Olympic gold is all his resume lacks.

 

7. Sydney McLaughlin, USA

Sydney McLaughlin, USA

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

No present American observe athlete’s ceiling is increased. The 400 hurdle prodigy turned the youngest U.S. observe Olympian since 1972, at 17, and the New Jersey native made the semis 5 years in the past in Brazil. Now 21, McLaughlin will head to Tokyo because the gold-medal favourite. McLaughlin pushed Dalilah Muhammad on the 2019 World Championships however ran only one 400 hurdle race between that Oct. 2019 showdown and final month’s U.S. trials. The unorthodox plan labored; the polished hurdler turned the primary lady to break the 52-second barrier on this occasion. The one-and-done Kentucky Wildcat is sort of definitely not completed shaving day off that file.

 

6. Armand Duplantis, Sweden

Armand Duplantis, Sweden

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Duplantis broke a 26-year-old pole vault file at age 20, and the wunderkind Swede has created a spot between himself and the sector. Though the U.S.’s Sam Kendricks has gained the previous two world titles, Duplantis has established himself because the clear Tokyo favourite. A Louisiana native who represents his mom’s house nation, Duplantis was an LSU one-and-done who set the NCAA file barely a 12 months earlier than his world-record efficiency (20 ft, 2 inches). He’s the one lively vaulter to have cleared 20 ft and has completed so twice. His prowess will make main pole vault competitions for the following a number of years geometrically enthralling. 

 

5. Religion Kipyegon, Kenya

Faith Kipyegon, Kenya

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Although solely 27, Kipyegon has been on the world stage for some time. The 1,500-meter specialist was an Olympian at age 18, and though she was not a finalist in London, she has made each world last since. Kipyegon has collected 4 world medals, with 2016’s Olympic title being her high achievement. Kipyegon defeated Ethiopian world-record holder Genzebe Dibaba within the Rio 1,500 last and topped celebrity Sifan Hassan for the 2017 gold. Hassan beat Kipyegon within the 2019 last, setting the stage for a monster showdown in Tokyo between mid-distance all-timers of their primes. Kipyegon is up 7-6 of their seven-year sequence to this point.

 

4. Ryan Crouser, USA

Ryan Crouser, USA

Andy Nelson by way of Imagn Content material Providers, LLC

At a U.S. trials that featured scorching observe performances, Crouser breaking Randy Barnes’ 31-year-old shot put mark stood out because the signature achievement. And it got here months after Crouser broke Barnes’ 32-year-old indoor shot mark. On a shot put record dotted with PED utilization, with Barnes a part of the occasion’s checkered previous, Crouser has put a number of marks at and across the high. The 28-year-old holds 10 of the highest 18 throws in shot historical past, and the Oregon native’s record-breaking consequence — 76 ft, 7 inches — broke the file by practically a foot. The 6-foot-7, 320-pound thrower is in sturdy place to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo.

 

Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya

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Kipchoge’s standing is a bit completely different, provided that he has stepped away from pure observe occasions after a embellished profession on that entrance. However the 36-year-old distance runner has change into maybe the best marathoner ever. Kipchoge has gained 12 of the 13 marathons he has entered — an inventory that features the 2016 Rio marathon — and set distance-running Twitter ablaze by breaking the 2-hour barrier in 2019. Although that race didn’t qualify as a world file, Kipchoge owns that too. A two-time Olympic medalist within the 5,000 meters, Kipchoge definitely has nothing left to show. However he’ll try and amaze as soon as once more.

 

2. Sifan Hassan, The Netherlands

Sifan Hassan, The Netherlands

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Kipyegon set a Kenyan nationwide file within the 1,500 meters on the 2019 World Championships; Hassan gained that race by greater than 2 seconds. The Ethiopian-born runner has displayed unbelievable versatility, delivering elite showings from 1,500 as much as 10,000-meter races. Hassan gained the 1,500 and 10,000 races in 2019 and picked up a bronze within the 5,000 in 2017. The 28-year-old Dutch runner is entered in all three races in Tokyo and is about to face elite African competitors. Whereas Hassan would possibly find yourself dropping out of one in every of these races, these Video games characterize her prime window to ascertain a uniquely dominant legacy. 

 

1. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

The best girls’s sprinter stays underrated. Usain Bolt’s otherworldly abilities overshadowed his countrywoman’s, and Florence Griffith-Joyner’s nearly definitely PED-aided information have lowered the achievement ceiling for feminine sprinters. Fraser-Pryce, nevertheless, has completed all the things else. The 5-foot Jamaican, 34, has two Olympic 100-meter golds and a bronze. She has 4 100 world championships and a 200 title. The 2019 crown got here after the delivery of her son. Sha’Carri Richardson would have posed a brand new problem, however Fraser-Pryce’s high 100 time (10.63, set in June) trails solely FloJo’s. Tokyo could possibly be a coronation for a Jamaican who has dominated longer than Bolt, although the ladies’s 100 and 200 fields are deep.



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