Athing Mu and Raevyn Rogers pose at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 3, 2021 in Tokyo.
Rogers Breaks Through For Bronze
Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain was second, clocking 1:55.88 for a British record, while Team USA’s Raevyn Rogers burst out of the pack on the final straightaway to run a personal best of 1:56.81 and claim the bronze medal.
“There was a split second in the race where it’s like, ‘You should like try to go ‘cause you can get a medal,’” Rogers said.
The 2019 world silver medalist dedicated her medal to her mother, who was celebrating her birthday.
Wilson, the other Team USA runner, did not make the final.
When Mu won the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field in June, she said, “I wouldn’t even call myself dominant yet.”
She’s getting there. With South Africa’s Caster Semenya and the other two Olympic medalists from Rio banned from competing in the 800 because of DSD (Differences of Sexual Development, with elevated testosterone levels), the podium was guaranteed to have new faces.
“I came in very relaxed,” said Mu, who wore a barrette that said “CONFIDENT,” which she just had to have after seeing it in a Los Angeles department store. “My mind was very chill. I wasn’t nervous or anything. I was just ready to go, ready to do what I had to do to get on that medal stand.”
At her next Olympics - and trust her, Mu says, there will be another one or a few - she wants to join Alberto Juantorena of Cuba as the only athletes to double in the 400 and the 800 at the same Games.
“I’m also going to break the 800 world record, eventually,” Mu said. “Not even eventually, we’re going to break it.”
Czech runner Jarmila Kratochvilova ran 1:53.28 in 1983.
This has been a sensational year for Mu, who set an American under-20 record in the 800 and won NCAA titles in the 400 and 4 x 400 for Texas A & M. At the Olympic Trials, she posted a personal best of 1:56.07, which was also a meet record.
Without prompting, Mu circled back to the question about what she wants people to know about her. “I think I’m just like a really jolly person,” she said, “especially when it comes to being on the track. I have so much fun. I think I’m probably the only person - OK, I don’t want to say only person smiling, but I’m definitely always smiling. I think the one reason why I’m here at the Olympic Games, being an Olympic champion, is because I have fun with what I do. Very happy to be here, very excited to be here, I’ve earned this. I deserve this as well.”
Cheering on Teammates
While Mu is focused on personal goals, she’s also a team player. As Team USA’s Gabby Thomas was running the 200, Mu cheered for her in between trackside interviews with broadcasters.
“I’m just happy for literally anyone on our team that gets a medal, or is just running good,” Mu said. “I’m very supportive. I love teams, and I was really happy for her. If it were me on the track, I’d want to hear her cheering as well. So I’m just trying to give everyone the love and support that I’d want if I was on the track….”
With the final of the women’s 200 meters just 25 minutes after the 800, Thomas didn’t see Mu race, but she said, “ I knew that was coming before I even saw the results. Athing is an incredible athlete. She has so much grace, so much poise. So much composure at such a young age. An amazing teammate.
“She’s an inspiration to me and she was rooting for me, screaming at the top of her lungs during my 200, so I wish the best for her. The sky is the limit with Athing.”
And it could be for Thomas as well.
However, when she crossed the finish line at her first Olympics, she didn’t know if she was third, fourth or fifth.
“It feels amazing because I really worked for that one,” Thomas, 24, said. “I fought tooth and nail those last 30 meters.”
When she saw that she was the Olympic bronze medalist, Thomas said she felt “first relief, and then shock and then pure excitement. Just thrilled.”
Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica won her second straight gold medal in the event while also repeating her double-double from 2016 of winning the 100 and the 200.
Thompson-Herah clocked 21.53 seconds for a new Jamaican record and the second-fastest time in history behind Florence Griffith Joyner’s 21.34 from 1988. Eighteen-year-old Christina Mboma of Namibia lowered her own world under-20 record to 21.81 seconds to take the silver.
Thomas, who ran 21.61 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, posted a time of 21.87 seconds, followed by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica at 21.94. Fraser-Pryce was competing in her ninth Olympic final after placing second in the 100.