The U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials will feature some of the most talented athletes in the U.S. and worldwide. Some argue that the competition to make the U.S. team will be more competitive than the Olympics. The 800m is no exception as there is vast talent in the men’s race and the women’s race. Each of these events may come down to experience and perseverance.
There are certain events where there seem to be athletes that have already earned their spots, such as, Galen Rupp in the 10,000m; Ashton Eaton in the decathlon; and Emma Coburn in the 3,000m steeplechase. But the beauty and pain of track and field are that anyone can win on any given day. One race, where there is lots of uncertainty, and lots of talent is the 800m. This is sure to be a spicy race on both the men and women’s sides.
The trials begin on July 1 and conclude on July 10. The top three finishers in each event qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics set to take place in Rio de Janeiro from August 5 to August 21. The trials will be aired on NBC and NBC Sports and take place in Eugene, OR.
The Men’s 800m consists of Boris Berian, Donovan Brazier, Clayton Murphy and Duane Solomon. These are the most noteworthy contenders in the race, but there are many other worthy competitors in the race. Click here to see the full start list. It’s also important to note that two-time Olympian, Nick Symmonds, has pulled out of the race due to a nagging left ankle injury.
Boris Berian is the reigning World Indoor Champion in the 800m. He won that race in 1:45.83. Although there will be much more competition outdoors than there was indoors, Berian has proved that he knows how to win. Berian’s personal best in the 800m is 1:43.34.
Donovan Brazier finished his freshman season at Texas A&M as the NCAA champion and he recently turned pro. At the NCAA Championships, Brazier’s time of 1:43.55 broke the NCAA record set by Jim Ryun in 1966. Brazier is the youngest competitor in the field, but he has a very good shot at making the U.S. Olympic team. Brazier’s time puts him in the top three, but he will have to be consistent through the rounds. Brazier’s youth and speed should earn him a spot.
Clayton Murphy also competed in the NCAA Championships and turned pro shortly after. Murphy won the 1500m at the NCAA Championships and the 800m NCAA title during the indoor season. His personal best is 1:45.59. When Nick Symmonds pulled out of the 2015 World Championships, Murphy took his place on the team and therefore Murphy has international experience, which could give him an advantage. Also, Murphy’s strength from the 1500m can allow him to make it through the three rounds of the Trials.
Duane Solomon is another strong option. He has a personal best of 1:42.82 and a season best of 1:45.47. Solomon is 31 years old, which makes him the oldest in the field. However with age comes experience, so he may be more prepared for the multiple rounds. Solomon has not run many races this year, although his personal best makes him another viable option.
The men’s 800m will be a test between the young and the old. Berian, Brazier, Murphy and Solomon may take the top four spots, but there are many other names in the mix, such as Brandon Kidder, Casimir Loxsom and Erik Sowinski.
The Women’s 800m will be just as exciting as the Men’s. Again there is no clear winner. Four women have dipped below the 2:00-minute mark so far this season. Those women are Molly Ludlow, Brenda Martinez, Chrishuna Williams and Ajee Wilson. This is not to mention Raevyn Rogers, who won the NCAA Championships and the veteran, Alysia Montano.
Molly Ludlow has made great strides this season. Her personal best came in Boston a few weeks ago when she ran 1:59.93. Ludlow finished fourth at the Trials in 2012 and she will be seeking redemption this year.
Brenda Martinez ran 1:59.83 this season and she is stronger than ever. She has focused on the 1500m, which has made her sharper for the 800m. This can also allow her to glide through the opening rounds. Martinez finished third in the 2013 World Championships. Martinez will surely be in contention of earning a spot to Rio.
Chrishuna Williams ran 1:59.89 to put her neck and neck with Martinez. Williams competed for the University of Arkansas and recently began competing in the 800m. After stepping up from the 400m, she has dropped more than nine seconds in the 800m. The change in distance has been beneficial to Williams, but we will see how she fares in the multiple rounds during the Trials.
Ajee Wilson comes into the Trials with the number one mark of the season at 1:59.71. The past year has had many ups and downs for Wilson. For example, at a race in Rome, she ran 2:03, but she bounced back and ran 1:59.72 in Boston. Wilson has experience on her side as she finished second in the 2016 World Indoor Championships. Additionally, she won a combination of four Indoor and Outdoor U.S. Championships. Hopefully, Wilson is consistent through the Trials and does not have an appearance like she did in Rome.
Raevyn Rogers is the back-to-back NCAA Champion in the 800m. She has a personal best of 1:59.71 and a season best of 2:00.75. It will be exciting to see what Rogers can do against the top competition in the country.
Alysia Montano is the veteran in this field. Montano has had an incredible career, consisting of seven U.S. Championship titles and competing in the 2012 Olympics. She has a personal best of 1:57.34. Montano is a true competitor as she notably raced when she was eight months pregnant.
The Women’s 800m is a must see race. The field is deep and there are only three spots on the team. It will truly be a battle to the finish. Click here to see the full start list.
On both the men and women’s side will experience top the new stars or will the new stars steal the show?