Track and Field Preview

USA Track & Field is coming off stellar performances at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, where Team USA won 32 medals, and the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, where the U.S. won 29 medals with two world record-setting performances, five American records and four world championship records.

The late-season 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha offered a preview of the fireworks to come at Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021. America's top track and field stars had to balance preparations for the world championships with the demands of training for an Olympic year that has now been postponed.

Recognized as one of the most successful countries in track and field over the past decades, Team USA will rely on traditionally strong areas like the sprints and hurdles, along with emerging challengers in the distances and field events to maintain their top spot on the Olympic medal table and in the team scoring.

Reigning Olympic gold medalists like Matthew Centrowitz, Jeff Henderson, Christian Taylor and Ryan Crouser are leading candidates for the U.S. men's team. They will be bolstered by younger luminaries such as sprinters Noah Lyles and Michael Norman, middle distance aces Donavan Brazier and Clayton Murphy, hurdlers Grant Holloway and Rai Benjamin, and pole vaulter Sam Kendricks.

Brianna McNeal led an American sweep of the women's 100-meter hurdles at the Rio Games and Nia Ali claimed World Championship gold in Doha, and Team USA could repeat the feat in Tokyo. Dalilah Muhammad reigns as 400 hurdles Olympic and world champion and broke the world record twice in 2019, but world silver medalist Sydney McLaughlin will be her biggest competition for the podium. Hammer thrower DeAnna Price shook the world with the first American hammer throw medal at a world championships and Gwen Berry, who claimed the 2019 Pan American gold and is ranked top-10 in the world, is a top challenger to Price. A one-two finish at the Rio Games by long jumpers Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese keyed American field events, complemented by a gold medal in shot put by Michelle Carter. Each are still in contention for the Tokyo Games, as Team USA is buoyed by middle distance medal hopefuls like Shelby Houlihan, Raevyn Rogers and Ajee Wilson.

No matter who makes up the final squad in Tokyo, Team USA will again be the team to defeat in the marquee sport of the Olympic Games.

Updated on July 17, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

 

Team USA is seeing a changing of the guard from accomplished veterans to an extremely talented and highly touted group of relative newcomers. Recent NCAA champions Michael Norman (400-meter) and Sha’Carri Richardson (100) burst onto the scene during the collegiate season and held their own in 2019. 2019 World Champion Noah Lyles may seek double-gold in the 100 and 200 in Tokyo.

Doha gold medalist Joe Kovacs and silver medalist Ryan Crouser lead the American contingent in the shot put, and with throws at or near 22 meters in limited competition in 2020, Crouser is tabbed to defend his Olympic medal against New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh and Brazil’s Darlan Romani. Not far behind Kovacs and Crouser is fellow American Darrell Hill, who surpassed 21 meters in six of his seven competitions in 2019.

Can the U.S. continue its success in the hurdles in 2021? 2019 World Champion Grant Holloway and 2019 USATF Outdoor Champion Daniel Roberts joined the professional ranks in 2019, after placing first and second respectively at NCAA championships in the men’s 110 hurdles. On the women’s side, world record-holder Keni Harrison looks to make her first Olympic team. World championship runner-up and NCAA champion Rai Benjamin will challenge Kevin Young’s 35-year-old world record in the men’s 400mH, while the women’s 400 hurdles event is set to be a showstopper with returning Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder Dalilah Muhammad, Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Spencer and World silver medalist Sydney McLaughlin in the mix.

Noah Lyles (Alexandria, Virginia)

 Lyles broke his way into the 100-meter world rankings in 2019, and he brings parity among the U.S. sprinters. Though it was the 200 where he won gold at the 2019 IAAF World Championships, all eyes will be on him to vie for victory in both the 100 and 200 in Tokyo.

Donavan Brazier (Cadillac, Michigan)

Brazier dominated the 800-meter in 2019, setting the indoor and outdoor American records, winning the USATF, the Diamond League crown and World Championship gold. Ajee' Wilson (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) The indoor and outdoor 800-meter American record holder and the 2017 IAAF World Championship bronze medalist is looking for her first Olympic medal. She has dominated the middle distances with three national 800 outdoor titles and four 800 indoor titles, as well as indoor titles in the 1,000 and 600.

Raevyn Rogers (Houston, Texas)

Rogers came from behind at the 2019 world championships, her first global championship, to claim the silver medal, solidifying her position as a major challenger in the event.

Dalilah Muhammad (Bayside, New York)

The Rio Olympic gold medalist was a double world record setter and double World Championships gold medalist in 2019.

Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa)

Winning nearly everything in sight, Houlihan racked up four national titles in 2019 capping the year just off the podium in fourth at the world championships but clocked a new 1500-meter American record.

Emma Coburn (Crested Butte, Colorado)

Coburn, the Rio bronze medalist and world championship gold (2017) and silver (2019) medalist, has remained atop of the American field in the steeplechase for nearly a decade having accomplished almost everything except Olympic gold.

Aliphine Tuliamuk (Posoy, West Pokot, Kenya)

In February, Tuliamuk won the women’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon in 2:27:23, the second-fastest winning time in race history.

Galen Rupp (Portland, Oregon)

Olympic silver and bronze medalist, Rupp joined Frank Shorter as the only men to ever win back-to-back U.S. Olympic Trials marathons. His 2:09:20 was the third-fastest winning time in race history to make his fourth Olympic team heading to Tokyo

Each country is allowed up to three athletes or one relay team per event. Athletes must meet time standards during the qualification period at competitions organized or authorized by World Athletics, its area associations or its national member federations, to qualify.

Selection processes for USA Track & Field are to be determined in the months ahead.

· Feb. 29, 2020 | U.S Olympic Team Trials - Marathon (Atlanta)

· Aliphine Tuliamuk, Molly Seidel, Sally Kipyego placed top-3 to earn their spots on Team USA for Tokyo, and will be joined by Galen Rupp, Jake Riley and Abdi Abdirahman on the men’s side in the marathon.

· June 18-27, 2021: U.S Olympic Team Trials - Track and Field (Eugene, Oregon)