Meet The 64 Members Of The U.S. Olympic Men’s Track & Field Team
by Karen Rosen
The 64 athletes competing for Team USA in men’s track and field at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 include veteran Olympic medalists such as four-time Olympian Galen Rupp and three-time Olympians Matthew Centrowitz and Will Claye. Abdi Abdirahman, 44, who made his fifth Olympic team, will be the oldest runner ever to compete for Team USA at the Games, while 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton is the youngest American male track athlete to qualify for the Olympics in 57 years.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field demonstrated that Team USA athletes are at the top of their game. Defending Olympic gold medalist Ryan Crouser broke a 31-year old world in the shot put to qualify for his second Games while hurdlers Grant Holloway and Rai Benjamin came within hundredths of a second of breaking world records in their events. This is their first Olympic team and they go in as medal favorites.
Another first-time Olympian is JuVaughn Harrison, who won the high jump and long jump and will be the first Team USA athlete to compete in the Olympic Games in both events since Jim Thorpe in 1912.
Noah Lyles, who had his heart set on making the 2016 team only to finish one spot off the podium, won the 200 with a world-leading time.
“I don’t think anyone can prepare you for the lion you have to slay at the Olympic Trials,” said Lyles, the reigning world champion in the 200. “It’s not world championships. It’s not U.S. championships. This is the hardest team to make and everyone knows it.”
Team USA is expected to medal in the 200 and the 110-meter hurdles, traditionally strong events in which it was shut out in 2016, as well as win the first medal in the hammer throw since 1996.
While the top four finishers in the 100 meters and 400 meters at the Trials are automatically members of the relay pool, Team USA has designated other athletes as well. Additional athletes already on the team could also run on relays.
Here’s a look at the male members of Team USA:
Trayvon Bromell, Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley cross the finish line in the Men's 100 Meter Final on day three of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 20, 2021 in Eugene, Ore.
Regarded as Team USA’s most promising young male sprinter before injuries derailed his career, Bromell is back at age 25 as the Olympic favorite. He won the Trials with a time of 9.80 seconds, which is No. 2 in the world behind his own 9.77 from early June. Bromell hasn’t lost a 100-meter race since 2019. The native of St. Petersburg, Florida, was the first junior to run under 10 seconds in the 100 at age 18 when he posted a time of 9.97. Bromell was the NCAA 100-meter champ as a Baylor University freshman. He then won the bronze in the 100 at the 2015 worlds in Beijing followed by the gold in the 60 at the 2016 indoor worlds. Bromell had a heel injury going into the Rio Olympics and wound up eighth. He then aggravated his Achilles during the 4 x 100 relay, tumbling to the track at the finish line while racing Usain Bolt. After two surgeries, Bromell, who calls himself a “spiritual runner” runs on talent and faith. He is also a member of the 4 x 100-meter relay pool.
The Louisville, Kentucky, native ran a personal best of 9.85 seconds to finish second in the 100 at the Trials and make his first Olympic team. His time is No. 2 on the world list among qualified Olympic athletes. Baker, 27, has said he a “very distant relative” of American record holder Tyson Gay. Originally a 400-meter and cross country runner, Baker became a pure sprinter at Texas Christian University, where he was two-time NCAA indoor champion at 60 meters in 2015 and 2016. Baker was U.S. national indoor champ in the 60 in 2017 and won the bronze medal in the 60 at world indoors in 2018. After placing 2nd in the 100 at U.S. nationals in 2018, Baker won four Diamond League meets. He has had injury issues and in 2019 ran only at U.S. nationals, where he finished fifth in the 100. Baker is the third-fastest all-time at 60 meters (6.40 seconds). He is also a member of the 4 x 100-meter relay pool.
While Kerley was considered a favorite to make Team USA, even he would have said a year ago that his event was the 400 meters. In 2019, Kerley posted the eighth-fastest time in history (43.64) while winning U.S. nationals, then captured the bronze medal at worlds, plus a gold on the 4 x 400 relay. But Kerley had other ideas. He dropped down to the 100. By April 2021, Kerley broke 10 flat. At the Trials he ran 9.93, 9.92 and a personal best of 9.86 seconds in the final for third. Kerley, 26, who grew up in Morgan City, Louisiana, in an extended family with 13 kids, also ran a personal best of 19.90 in the 200 at the Trials, finishing fourth. He was the 2017 NCAA indoor and outdoor champ for Texas A&M University and won the 2017 U.S. national crown. As the No. 3 Olympic eligible performer on the world 100-meter list, he gives Team USA hopes of a 100 sweep. He is also a member of the 4 x 100-meter relay pool and could be considered for either 4 x 400-meter relay.
After Lyles, the reigning world champion in the 200 finished seventh in the 100 at the Trials, dashing his hopes of an Olympic double, he vowed that he would “dominate, point blank” in the 200. Lyles, who turns 24 on July 18, didn’t win his heat or semi, trailing Erriyon Knighton in both, but said he was conserving energy. In the final, Lyles then ran a world-leading time of 19.74 seconds and pronounced that he was having fun again after a challenging year. In 2016, Lyles was crushed after placing fourth at the Trials in the 200 by .06, then went on later that summer to become the world under-20 champion in the 100. The native of Alexandria, Virginia, whose brother Josephus also competed at the Trials, was U.S. national champion in the 100 in 2018 and the 200 in 2019. Lyles already has a Youth Olympic Games 200-meter gold from 2014 and now wants to be Olympic champion on the world’s biggest stage.
“Kung Fu Kenny,” the persona Bednarek has adopted on the track, went into the Trials to “make a statement,” and he certainly did. He was second in the 200 in a lifetime best of 19.78 seconds, which is No. 2 on the world list. In 2019, Bednarek became only the second man in history to run sub-20 seconds in the 200 and sub-45 seconds in the 400 on the same day, a feat he achieved for Indian Hills Community College at the junior college nationals. The 22-year-old from Rice Lake, Wisconsin, joined the sub-10 second club in the 100 at the Trials, running 9.96 in the semis and 9.89 in the final to finish fourth. Two years ago, Bednarek was fourth at U.S. nationals in the 200 and competed at worlds. However, while contending with the first injury of his career, he did not advance past the heats in Doha. Bednarek is coached by Olympic gold medalist Dennis Mitchell. He is also a member of the 4 x 100-meter relay pool.
The 17-year-old from Tampa, Florida, who turned pro earlier this year, is the youngest male track and field athlete since Jim Ryun in 1964 (1,500 meters) to make Team USA at the Olympics. “He literally embodied what I wanted to do in 2016,” said Noah Lyles. Knighton, who is 6-foot-3 and known for his long stride, was a football player whose coaches suggested he take up track in 2019 to help him with his speed. He then ditched football and said returning to that sport is “not an option.” Knighton won the 100 and 200 at the national junior Olympics as a 16-year-old. He then broke Usain Bolt’s under-18 world record in May, clocking 20.11 seconds. At the Trials, Knighton lowered that record to 20.04 and then to 19.88 while beating Lyles in his first two races. In the final, he ran 19.84 to make his first Olympic team. Knighton is the third-ranked Olympic qualifier on the world list, making a Team USA sweep a possibility.
In 2020, Norman had the fastest time in the world in the 100 meters (9.86 seconds), but was just having fun during the pandemic year. The 23-year-old returned to the 400 and ran 44.07 to win the Olympic Trials and earn the right to compete in Japan, the country of his mother’s birth. Norman seemed on his way to the Rio Olympics after beating Justin Gatlin in the 200-meter semifinals at the 2016 Trials, but Gatlin won the final with Norman fifth. The Murrieta, California, native went on to win two golds at world juniors. Norman, who won the 2018 NCAA title for the University of Southern California, is coached by Quincy Watts, the 1992 Olympic champ at 400 meters. In April 2019, Norman ran a PR of 43.45 seconds (tied for No. 4 all-time), but he did not make the final at worlds in October. Norman and 400-meter hurdler Rai Benjamin are close friends and former roommates. He is also a member of the relay pool for the 4 x 400-meter relay.
A mainstay on Team USA relays, Cherry earned an individual berth on his first major outdoor national team. Cherry, 26, improved his personal best from May by 0.02 to post a time of 44.35 seconds and finish second at the Trials. The time ranks No. 3 among eligible Olympic runners. Cherry won world championships golds on the 4 x 400 relay in 2017 and 2019 and added another gold in the 4 x 400 mixed relay in 2019. The Chesapeake, Virginia, native also ran a leg on the winning 4 x 400 team at the 2014 world under-20 championships and helped earn a silver at the 2019 Pan Am Games. Individually, he was second at the 2018 indoor nationals and second at indoor worlds. Cherry competed for Florida State University and LSU and won four NCAA medals in the 400. He contributed to two 4 x 400-meter championship teams for the Tigers. Cherry is also a member of the relay pool for the 4 x 400-meter relay.
The 20-year-old became a second generation Olympian on Father’s Day by taking third at the Trials with a time 44.74 seconds. Ross is coached at North Carolina A&T University by his father Duane, a 2004 Olympian in the 110-meter hurdles who won a bronze medal at the 1999 world championships. June was a great month for the father-and-son team. Randolph posted a world-leading time of 43.85 seconds in winning the NCAA title as a sophomore and also ran a leg on the winning 4 x 400-meter relay and the fourth-place 4 x 100 relay. Returning to Hayward Field for the Trials, Ross, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was a distant fourth coming off the curve in the final, but pulled into position to take the last individual Olympic berth. He said it was “a little overwhelming” being next to runners like Michael Norman and Michael Cherry, so he had to “settle down and do what I do.” Ross is also a member of the relay pool for the 4 x 400-meter relay.
The 2016 Olympic bronze medalist was feeling overlooked as pre-Trials previews touted a showdown between world champion and American record holder Donavan Brazier and Bryce Hoppel. Yet while Brazier faded, Murphy made his second Olympic team. Despite having his training hampered by an injury, Murphy kicked down the straightaway to win his third U.S. national title in a world-leading time of 1:43.17. Five years ago, the bronze medal wasn’t the best thing that happened to Murphy in Rio. In the Olympic Village, he met Ariana Washington, a member of the Team USA relay pool, and they are now married. Murphy, 26, made his international debut at the 2015 Pan Am Games, winning the gold. The native of New Madison, Ohio, won the 2016 NCAA title in the 1,500 for the University of Akron. He was eighth at the 2019 worlds.
Bursting to the front of the pack in the Trials final, Jewett, the 2021 NCAA champion for Southern California, took out the first lap in 50.60 seconds. A big fan of anime, Jewett said he was trying to “make it as animated as I could.” Jewett, 24, then held on for second place with a personal best of 1:43.85, which was an impressive .83 better than his NCAA winning time and is now the No. 7 time in the world this year. After the race Jewett handled all of his media obligations. Before calling it a night, he then had to write a 10-page paper for school, which he dutifully finished in time. The Los Angeles native, who transferred from UC-Irvine to Southern Cal, has made tremendous improvement since 2019 when he had a personal best time of 1:46.11.
With a performance that proved he was ready for an Olympic run, Hoppel ran the second-fastest time in U.S. history in the indoor 800 meters on Jan. 31. Two weeks later, he broke the American record in the indoor 1,000 meters. Hoppel, 23, placed third at the Trials with a time of 1:44.14 to qualify for his first Olympic team. He is now tied for No. 12 on the 2021 world list. A relative newcomer to the international scene, Hoppel was the indoor and outdoor NCAA champion for the University of Kansas in 2019 – winning 21 consecutive races – before placing third at U.S. nationals. He went on to fourth-place finishes at the 2019 Pan American Games and world championships, where his performance was overshadowed by Donavan Brazier’s American record. Hoppel, a native of Midland, Texas, was the 2020 U.S. national indoor champion and ran a lifetime best of 1:43.23 in Monaco last August. His father, Monty, manages the Midland RockHounds, the Class AA affiliate of the Oakland A’s in the Texas League.
Cole Hocker and Matthew Centrowitz race to the finish of the Men's 1,500 Meter Run Final during day ten of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 27, 2021 in Eugene, Ore.
University of Oregon fans cheered wildly as Hocker, fresh off the NCAA 1,500-meter title, caught another Ducks alum, Matthew Centrowitz, to win his first U.S. national crown at the Olympic Trials 16 days later. Hocker, who turned 20 in early June, said it was “the most competitive race I’ve ever been in and I had nerves” after a heat delay of several hours. The Indianapolis native added that there was “one man in front of me and I hunted him down.” However, Hocker’s time of 3:35.28, while a personal best, missed the Olympic qualifying standard by a mere. 28. (He ran 3:35.35 at the NCAA meet). Hocker had to wait to find out that he had qualified for the Olympics according to his world ranking. He also won the mile and the 3,000 meters at the NCAA indoor championships in 2021 and was third outdoors in the 800 at the Pac-12 Championships and fourth in the 5,000 at the NCAA meet.
The defending Olympic champion in the 1,500 meters made his third straight Olympic team and brought the Centrowitz family total to four. His father, Matt, competed in 1976 in Montreal. Although Centrowitz, 31, of Arnold, Maryland, was outkicked by Cole Hocker, he finished second in 3:35.34 and was assured that his Trials record from 2016 remained standing. Centrowitz won the NCAA crown in 2011 for the University of Oregon and has made every world or Olympic outdoor team since 2011 – that’s eight straight. Centrowitz was third at the 2011 worlds, second in 2013, and eighth in 2015 and 2019. He also won the world indoor gold in 2016. On his first Olympic team in 2012, Centrowitz placed fourth in the 1,500. Four years later he prevailed in a slow final (3:50.00) to win Team USA’s first gold in the event in 108 years.
Before the pandemic, Nuguse was the 2019 NCAA champion from Notre Dame. When NCAA outdoor competition resumed in 2021, Nuguse had to contend with Oregon’s Cole Hocker and was the runner-up. At the Trials, Hocker bested Nuguse again, but the 22-year-old native of Louisville, Kentucky, still made the Olympic team with a time of 3:36.19. In the prelims of the ACC Championships in May, Nuguse ran a personal best of 3:34.68 - which broke the collegiate record - on what was essentially a solo run. He also ran cross country, in which he was ACC champion and an All-American, and anchored the distance medley relay, an event in which the Fighting Irish squad took second at the NCAA Championships in 2018.
Although he was trying to stay out of trouble by running from the front, the reigning Olympic silver medalist said he was clipped several times, messing up his momentum, as the pack stayed tightly bunched. He even turned to wag his finger in admonishment. Chelimo ran a final lap of 52.83 seconds – while veering into lane four to force his rivals to go wide – and won with a time of 13:26.82. The native of Iten, Kenya, came to the United States. to attend Shorter College, transferring to UNC-Greensboro. Chelimo 30, attained U.S. citizenship in 2014 by joining the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program and now calls Beaverton, Oregon, home. He has won three U.S. national outdoor and four U.S. national indoor titles. Chelimo was the bronze medalist at the 2017 worlds and placed seventh in 2019.
Grant Fisher - 5,000 and 10,000
Not only is Fisher one of just three men to double in individual events at the Trials, he made the Olympic team in the 10,000 in only his second official race at the distance! Fisher picked up the event just this year. Nine days after placing second in the 10,000 with a time of 27:54.29, Fisher, the 2017 NCAA champion for Stanford University in the 5,000, raced in the Trials final in the same event. He clocked 13:27.01 for another second-place finish. Fisher, 24, was born in Canada to a Canadian father and American mother and has dual citizenship. He grew up in Grand Blanc, Michigan, where he was also an elite soccer player. Fisher competed in the world junior championships in 2014. In college, he was also second in the NCAA in cross country and the indoor 3,000 and distance medley relay. His time of 27:11.29 from February 2021 in his first 10,000 is the top time by an American this year.
Woody Kincaid – 5,000 and 10,000
When Kincaid placed fifth at the 2015 NCAA meet in the 5,000 for the University of Portland, who could have imagined that six years later he would win the Olympic Trials 10,000 and place third in the 5,000? Kincaid, 28, whose legal name is William, was eighth in the 2016 Trials in the 5,000. The Littleton, Colorado, native almost made Team USA in 2019, but his third-place finish in the 5,000 at nationals came without a world championships qualifying time, so he could not compete. He subsequently ran a blistering 12:58:10, which is No. 5 on the all-time U.S. list. Kincaid had all the necessary qualifying times in hand for the Trials, where he used a ferocious kick to win the 10,000 in 27:53.62. In the 5,000, Kincaid was trapped in sixth place at the bell and had to “make up a lot of ground.” He finished .12 behind training partner Grant Fisher, clocking 13:27.13. He said of his relationship with Fisher, “It’s a shame that I like him so much because I have to race him all the time.”
Another second-generation Olympian, Klecker’s mother, Janis, won the 1992 Olympic marathon trials and was 21st in Barcelona. She held the open 50K American record from 1983 until this year. His father, Barney, was also a successful ultra-runner and once held the American record for 50 miles. At one point, Klecker and four of his five siblings were on the same high school cross country team. He also snowshoed and did Nordic skiing in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Klecker, 24, started as an 800-meter runner and gradually moved up, with the 10,000 becoming part of his track repertoire in 2020. He was the 2019 NCAA indoor runner-up in the 5,000, placed third in the indoor 3,000 and was second in cross country for the University of Colorado. Klecker was ninth at 2018 nationals in the 5,000 and is coached by Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein.
20K Race Walk
Christie grabbed the 60th and final Olympic berth based on his world ranking. He won the Olympic Trials in the 20K race walk with a time of 1:30:48. At the USA 50K Race Walking Championships in January 2020 - the Olympic Trials for the 50K - he placed third, but did not qualify for Tokyo in that event. Christie also won national titles in the 20K in 2018, the 10K in 2019 and three indoor 3,000-meter titles. Christie, 29, of San Diego, was third at the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 20K, but did not qualify for the London Games. He has competed in the world race walking team championships in the 50K in 2016 (placing 34th) and 2018. Competing for Missouri Baptist University, Christie won NAIA championships in the 5,000-meter race walk (outdoors) in 2014 and the 3,000-meter race walk (indoors) in 2015.
Originally a soccer player, Rupp was spotted by Alberto Salazar, who began training him as a distance runner. Only 22 when he made the first of his four Olympic teams in 2008, Rupp placed 13th in the 10,000 meters. At the London Olympics in 2012, Rupp finished behind training partner Mo Farah of Great Britain in the 10,000 to win the silver and become the first American to medal in the event since Billy Mills took the gold in 1964. Rupp was also seventh in the 5,000. Rupp set the American record in the 10,000 meters on the track of 26:44.36 in 2014 – the last year he competed in a race as short as the 1,500 meters. Rupp then turned his attention to the marathon, where he won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in his first attempt at the distance. He won the bronze medal in Rio eight days after placing fifth in the 10,000. Rupp is the only American to win Olympic medals in both events. At the 2020 Trials, he won with a time of 2:09:20. A five-time individual NCAA champion for the University of Oregon, Rupp, 35, is a father of four and lives in Portland, Oregon.
Jacob “Jake” Riley
The All-American from Stanford University was 15th at the 2016 Olympic Trials, then struggled with Achilles issues and missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He was diagnosed with Haglund’s syndrome and had surgery in 2018. Returning to the roads, Riley was the top U.S. finisher at the 2019 Chicago marathon, placing ninth. Riley, 32, of Bellingham, Washington, placed second in the 2020 Olympic marathon trials with a time of 2:10:02 on Feb. 29, 2020. He stayed active later in the year with 1,500-meter and one- and two-mile races to tune up for a half marathon in Michigan, where he was sixth. Riley moved to Boulder, Colorado, to study for his master’s degree in mechanical engineering and has worked as a test-prep tutor.
At age 44, Abdirahman is the oldest U.S. runner to make an Olympic team. This is his fifth Olympic team going back 21 years. A native of Somalia, Abdirahman fled with his family during the Somali civil war when he was 13. The family later moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he still lives, and he competed for the University of Arizona. Abdirahman became a U.S. citizen on May 22, 2000. He made Team USA in the 10,000 meters in 2000, 2004 and 2008, finishing 10th in 2000 and then 15th in his other two appearances. He was seventh at worlds in 2007. In 2012, Abdirahman was third in the Olympic marathon trials and did not finish the Olympic marathon in London. He missed the 2016 Olympic marathon trials with a calf injury. At the 2020 Trials, he placed third with a time of 2:10:03, just a second behind Jacob Riley. Abdirahman’s nickname is “The Black Cactus.” He returned to racing in 2021 by finishing 15th in the Peachtree Road Race on July 4.
Devon Allen, Grant Holloway and Trey Cunningham compete in the Men's 110 Meters Hurdle Final on day nine of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 26, 2021 in Eugene, Ore.
110 Meter Hurdles
The 2019 world champion has asked for pointers from some of the all-time greats. Holloway spoke to Colin Jackson before breaking the British hurdler’s indoor world record in the 60-meter hurdles in February. And Holloway practically has outdoor world record holder Aries Merritt on speed dial. In the Trials semifinals, Holloway, 23, of Chesapeake, Virginia, came within .01 of Merritt’s 2012 record of 12.80. Holloway then clocked 12.96 in the final to make his first Olympic team. Choosing track over football, Holloway went to the University of Florida and won three straight NCAA 110-meter hurdle titles from 2017 to 2019, breaking Renaldo Nehemiah’s 40-year-old record by clocking 12.98 seconds. Holloway also won three straight indoor 60-meter hurdles NCAA titles, the flat 60 crown in 2019 and made the podium in the long jump and on relays. He is the world leader by .2 seconds over reigning Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica.
As a University of Oregon freshman, Allen had a breakout year in 2014. He won the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA meet and the U.S. nationals. Then switching to football, he caught seven touchdown passes before tearing his ACL in the Rose Bowl while returning the opening kickoff. Allen, 26, of Phoenix, Arizona missed both of his 2015 seasons, but recovered and won NCAA indoor (60-meter hurdles) and outdoor (110-meter hurdles) titles and the Olympic Trials in 2016 en route to a fifth-place finish in Rio. Allen, who was named the fastest player in college football by NFL.com, decided to forego a possible career as an NFL wide receiver to focus on hurdling. The three-time U.S. national champ said he was “tired of being hurt in football after suffering two ACL injuries” and requiring surgeries. He has competed in two world championships, placing seventh in 2019. He also played baseball, basketball, volleyball and soccer up until high school.
Representing the University of Kentucky in college, Roberts went head-to-head with Grant Holloway at the NCAA championships, but the best he could do in 2019 was finish as runner-up indoors in the 60-meter hurdles and runner-up outdoors in the 110-meter hurdles to his rival. However, Roberts, 23, got some revenge by winning the 2019 national championships. Unfortunately, he was disqualified in the heats at the Doha worlds. The Atlanta native came into the Olympic Trials with a season best of 13.23 seconds, but rose to the occasion in the final, clocking 13.11 seconds, .11 off this personal best, to clinch the final spot on the Olympic team. Roberts wears tights while racing to cover up surgical scars from tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL while playing football in 2015.
400 Meter Hurdles
After posting a time of 46.83 seconds at the Trials, which was just .05 off Kevin Young’s 29-year-old world record, Benjamin said, “It hurts a little bit to know that it was right there and I couldn’t grab it.” For the past few years, Benjamin and two-time world champion Karsten Warholm had been chasing that record. Warholm came close while pushed by Benjamin, who took second behind the Norwegian at the 2019 worlds despite being hampered by injury. Perhaps motivated by Benjamin’s near miss, Warholm broke the world record on July 1 with a time of 46.70 seconds. This sets up an epic showdown in Tokyo. Benjamin, 23, of Mount Vernon, New York, represented Antigua (country of his father Winston, an international cricketer) at the 2013 world youth championships, but transferred his allegiance to the United States in October 2018. He ran collegiately for UCLA and then Southern California, winning the NCAA 400 hurdles title in 2019. Benjamin ran a leg on the gold-medal winning 4 x 400 relay at the 2019 worlds, so he could be considered for relays.
The 2018 national champion did not hold back in the preliminaries or semifinals, posting the fastest time in each round. When Selmon, 24, saw Benjamin’s time in the final, he knew he had also run a personal best. His time of 48.08 seconds was good enough for second place and qualified him for his first Olympic team. The Mableton, Georgia, native was the bronze medalist in the 400 hurdles at youth worlds in 2013, the silver medalist at the Pan American junior championships in 2015 and won the gold in the Athletics World Cup in 2018. At the University of North Carolina, he went from fourth to third to second at the NCAA championships. However, Selmon was plagued by injuries in 2019. The pandemic gave him time to recover and he began working with veteran coach Nat Page. “You always want to peak at the Trials,” Selmon said.
Running a personal best of 48.38 seconds, Kendziera, 26, took third place and earned a spot on not only his first Olympic team, but also his first national team. At the 2016 Trials, Kendziera was eighth in his semifinal. Competing for the University of Illinois, he was a 10-time All-American who ran hurdles, relays, and long jumped. As a senior in 2018, Kendziera was second in the 110 hurdles and third in the 400 hurdles, scoring 14 points, the most by a hurdler since James Walker scored 16 for Auburn University in 1979. Kendziera’s time in the 400 hurdles at the NCAA meet was 48.42 seconds, his previous PR before the Trials. Also in 2018, the Mount Prospect, Illinois, native ran both the 110 hurdles and 400 hurdles at the U.S. national championships, with the finals 45 minutes apart. He did not finish the 110 hurdles, but was fifth in the 400 hurdles. He repeated his fifth-place finish in 2019.
3,000 Meter Steeplechase
The Kenyan-born runner won his second U.S. national title and became a two-time Olympian with his winning time of 8:21:34. Bor, 31, came to the United States in 2007 to attend Iowa State University, where he qualified for the NCAA finals four years in a row and was second in 2009. Initially thought to be too short – at 5-foot-6 - to run the steeplechase due to its sturdy barriers and water jump, Bor overcame his coach’s reluctance. After college, Bor joined the Army, which provided a path to U.S. citizenship in 2013. He was the surprise second-place finisher at the 2016 Olympic Trials, and placed seventh in Rio. As a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, the father of two trains with a group of Kenyan-born Americans in Colorado Springs, Colo., including his brother, Emmanuel, who also competed at the Trials.
Another member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, Keter, 29, trains with Bor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Kenya native finished second with a time of 8:21.81 to make his first Olympic team. However, this is not his first international team. In 2019, Keter placed fourth at the 2019 Pan American Games. He competed collegiately for Texas Tech University, where he was 10th in the NCAA steeplechase in 2016 and sixth in 2017, after first running for Cloud County Community College (Concordia, Kansas) in the NJCAA championships and Wayland Baptist University in NAIA competition. Keter missed the 2018 season and in 2019 finished just off the podium at nationals in fourth place.
Hoping for good vibes from Hayward Field, where he won the 2016 NCAA title for the University of Michigan, Ferlic placed third in the Trials with a time of 8:22.05 to make his first Olympic team. He proved he could handle his critics with good humor, posting a screen shot of someone who said five years earlier that the U.S. was too deep in the steeplechase for him to make an impact. “If he was a guy who could close in 60, then a chance,” the anonymous poster said. Ferlic replied, “60.02 to be exact,” which was his final lap in the Trials. The St. Paul, Minnesota native had finished fifth at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Ferlic, who will turn 28 on Aug. 5, was again fifth in 2019 and represented Team USA at the 2019 World Cross Country Championships. He has a PR of 8:18.49 from the USATF Grand Prix, which was also held at Hayward Field in Eugene.
Darryl Sullivan competes in the Men's High Jump final during day ten of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 27, 2021 in Eugene, Ore.
The University of Tennessee graduate student showed great poise at the Olympic Trials, having never appeared in the national championships. However, Sullivan was familiar with Hayward Field, the venue for the NCAA meet two weeks earlier. He placed fourth for his best outdoor finish. At the Trials, Sullivan jumped 10 centimeters higher, equalling his personal best with a jump of 2.33 meters (7-7 ¾). That was the same height as JuVaughn Harrison, but Sullivan settled for second place due to three early misses. Two of those misses came at 2.24 meters (7-4 1/4), and he had to make a do-or-die third attempt, which was successful. It was smooth sailing the next three heights for Sullivan with first-try clearances. The 23-year-old native of Marion, Illinois, then had two misses and a pass at 2.36 (7-8 ¾) and one final miss at 2.39 (7-10). He is tied for No. 3 on the world list.
A search of McEwen’s name turns up video of a spectacular dunk exhibition from 2014, when he was in high school. It has 2.8 million views and yes, McEwen won the Jordan Brand dunk contest. McEwen will have many more eyeballs on him at his first Olympic Games after he jumped 2.30 meters (7-6 ½) to earn the third berth in the high jump. McEwen, 25 of Abbeville, Mississippi, said he was in second grade when he “figured out, wow, I can jump.” His first love was basketball and he played the sport at Northwest Mississippi junior college. He then transferred to the University of Alabama, where he was indoor national champion and placed second and third outdoors. McEwen was second at the 2019 U.S. nationals, earning his first trip to the world championships, where he did not advance to the final. He is tied for No. 3 on the world list.
JuVaughn Harrison - High Jump and Long Jump
How unprecedented is it for a Team USA athlete to qualify for the same Olympic Games in the high jump and the long jump? Well, the legendary Jim Thorpe was the last man to do it and that was back in 1912. Harrison, 22, had no problem contesting both events within hours of each other at the Trials thanks to his busy schedule at LSU, where he won both outdoor events at the 2019 NCAA championships and all four titles – indoor and outdoor - in 2021. Starting with the high jump on the last day of the Trials, Harrison cleared five bars cleanly to win with a height of 2.33 meters (7-7 ¾), 3 centimeters shy of his season best. After a rest period, which was extended when officials delayed the meet due to the oppressive heat, he long jumped a personal best of 8.47 meters (27-9 ½). The Huntsville, Alabama, native is currently No. 2 on the world list in both the high jump and long jump based on his lifetime best performances this year.
Dethroning Sam Kendricks is never easy, but Nilsen was the man to do it at the Trials. He was the only vaulter to clear 5.90 (19-4 ¼), snapping Kendricks’ six-year winning streak at U.S. nationals. And to think that at the 2016 Trials, Nilsen’s main goal was getting a picture with Kendricks - which he accomplished. A year later, they were teammates at worlds, but Nilsen, who had placed third at nationals, did not reach the final. Nilsen, 23, of Kansas City, Missouri, won three NCAA titles for the University of South Dakota – indoors in 2017 and two outdoor crowns in 2018 and 2019. In 2019, he beat current world record holder Mondo Duplantis, who vaulted for LSU, but represents Sweden internationally. Nilsen is tied for second on the world list with a vault of 5.92 meters. He is coached by three-time Olympian Derek Miles, the 2008 bronze medalist, and he has a 3½-year-old son, Roman.
For the first time since 2013, the two-time world champion, American record holder and Olympic bronze medalist did not win the national title, ending his six-year streak (which also included three indoor crowns). “I prefer vice champion,” said Kendricks, 28, who tied KC Lightfoot by clearing 5.85 meters (19-2 ¼). Each vaulter had one miss at an earlier height. “This will go down in history as the hardest team to make ever,” Kendricks said. After securing the bronze in Rio – and grabbing headlines when the Army Reserve officer snapped to attention when the national anthem played while he was on the runway – Kendricks won the next two outdoor world championships in 2017 and 2019. The Oxford, Mississippi native won NCAA titles for the University of Mississippi in 2013 and 2014. He set the American record in 2019 of 6.06 meters (19-10 ½). He is tied for second on the world list at 5.92 meters.
At age 21, Lightfoot qualified for his first Olympics and is one of the youngest team members. Lightfoot cleared 6.00 meters (19-8 ¼) in an indoor meet in February, then won the NCAA indoor title for Baylor University. The native of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, did not compete collegiately outdoors to get ready for the Olympic Trials, where he tied for second by clearing an outdoor PR of 5.85 (19-2 ¼). While his Tokyo pole vault teammates were at the 2016 Trials, Lightfoot was gearing up for the under-19 nationals, where he was third. He was fourth in the under-20 nationals a year later. By 2018, Lightfoot was vaulting at the senior level. He was 10th at U.S. indoor nationals, but did not clear a height at U.S. outdoor nationals. Lightfoot’s stock skyrocketed when he was third at the 2019 U.S. nationals, qualifying for worlds, where he did not advance to the final.
As the 2015 U.S. outdoor national champion and 2016 U.S. and world indoor gold medalist, Dendy carried momentum into the 2016 Trials. He and Will Claye each jumped 8.42 meters - even though Claye’s leap was wind-aided and Dendy’s, which is still his personal best, was legal. Claye’s second-best jump was farther, which normally would have given him third place, but he had not met the Olympic qualifying standard. That meant Dendy was named to the Olympic berth. But hold on – Dendy suffered a lower right leg injury on his fourth jump at Trials and had to withdraw from the Rio Games a week before they began. Five years later, the seven-time NCAA champion in the long jump and triple jump for the University of Florida would not be denied again. Dendy, 28, of Middletown, Delaware, placed second at the Trials with a leap of 8.38 meters (27-6).
The 24-year-old from Copperas Cove, Texas, grew up in the same hometown as quarterback Robert Griffin III and attended the same high school as wide receiver and Olympic gold medalist Johnny “Lam” Jones. McCarter equalled his personal best of 8.26 meters (27-1 ¼) to land in third place at the Trials. Competing for the University of Texas, McCarter was third in the long jump at the NCAA indoor meet in 2017, then placed fifth indoors in 2018. He did not compete outdoors either year due to two torn hamstrings and surgery to remove a tumor from his hip. In 2019, McCarter was 10th at the NCAA outdoor meet, then improved to sixth at U.S. nationals. Because of national champ Will Claye’s decision not to long jump at worlds, McCarter replaced him. After posting the fourth-best jump in the qualifying round, McCarter fouled all of his attempts in the final.
Before making his third straight Olympic team, Claye “was in a dark place.” In late 2019 he ruptured his Achilles tendon, but kept the injury private. “It’s a miracle for me to be here,” Claye, 30, of Phoenix, Arizona, said after the Trials. This could be the year the three-time Olympic medalist - silvers in the triple jump in 2012 and 2016 and bronze in the long jump in 2012 – finally gets the gold. In May, Christian Taylor, Claye’s chief rival and the two-time Olympic champion, also tore his Achilles, and his season was over. Claye, who won two NCAA titles for the University of Oklahoma and the University of Florida, won his fourth U.S. national outdoor championship with a mark of 17.21 meters (56-5 ¾). But it remains to be seen if Claye can make Tokyo more memorable than Rio. After the event, he ran to the stands and proposed to hurdler Queen Harrison, who is now his wife.
Often overshadowed by Christian Taylor and Will Claye, Scott has some impressive credentials. He won the 2017 U.S. indoor national title, the 2018 U.S. outdoor national title and in 2019 captured both. Scott added another U.S. indoor title in 2020. He originally signed with Eastern Michigan University as a football player, then joined the track team after his freshman year. Scott was second at the 2015 indoor NCAA meet and third outdoors at the NCAA. During the 2016 Trials, he proposed to his then-girlfriend a few days before finishing seventh. Five years later, Scott overtook Will Claye on his fourth jump at the Olympic Trials, going 17.18 meters (56-4 ½), but Claye moved back ahead on his clutch final attempt. Scott, 29, of Apopka, Florida, competed at the 2017 and 2019 world championships, placing sixth in 2019.
The 31-year-old from Corona, California, had already clinched his second Olympic berth before his sixth and final jump, but it was still his best at 17.01 meters (55-9 ¾). Just like in 2016, Benard was third at the Olympic Trials, but he’ll try to improve on a Rio finish in which he did not advance from the qualifying round. Benard followed his Olympic performance with second place at U.S. outdoor nationals to qualify for the 2017 worlds, where he finished sixth. Benard was again the runner-up in 2018, but in 2019 dropped to fourth at U.S. nationals. Benard long jumped and triple jumped for Arizona State University. In 2012, he was seventh at the NCAA meet and 11th at U.S. nationals. Two years later, he was the indoor runner up at the NCAAs, followed by a fourth-place finish at the outdoor NCAA meet in 2015.
Ryan Crouser competes in the Men's Shot Put final, throwing for a world record of 23.37 meters during day one of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 18, 2021 in Eugene, Ore.
The reigning Olympic champion appears poised to defend his title. Crouser, 28, of Redmond, Oregon, broke the world record at the Trials with a heave of 23.37 meters (76-8 ¼), adding almost a foot to the previous world record of 23.12 (75-10 ¼) set by Randy Barnes in 1990. Crouser racked up his fourth U.S. national outdoor title and sixth overall. A nine-time NCAA All-American for Texas, Crouser was sixth at the 2017 world championships and then the silver medalist in 2019 at worlds. Ten years earlier, he won the shot and was second in the discus at the world under-18 championships. Crouser’s father, Mitch, was an alternate on the 1984 Olympic team in the discus and his uncle Brian, competed at the Olympics in 1988 and 1992 in the javelin. His girlfriend, Megan Clark, was 10th in the pole vault.
The two-time world champion always keeps Crouser on his toes. Kovacs threw 22.34 meters (73-3 ½) to place second at the Trials and make his second Olympic team. The 32-year-old from Powell, Ohio, won the silver medal at the 2016 Olympics with Crouser winning the gold. But the next year, Kovacs, who was already the 2015 world champion, won the silver medal at the 2017 worlds with Crouser sixth. And in 2019, Kovacs won the world crown again, with Crouser second. The victory also gave Kovacs medals in four straight major international competitions. Kovacs was initially coached by his mother, Joanna, and is now coached by his wife, Ashley. He was second at the NCAA indoor championships in 2010 for Penn State and third at the NCAA outdoors in 2011. As a pro, he won national titles in 2014 and 2015.
The Rosemont, Minnesota, native threw a personal best of 21.92 meters (71-11) to edge 2016 Olympian Darrell Hill for the third and final spot on Team USA. Otterdahl beat Hill by an inch. Otterdahl, 25, was a versatile thrower before beginning to focus solely on the shot put in 2020. In 2015, he won the discus at the Pan American under-20 championships. For North Dakota State, Otterdahl was the 2019 NCAA indoor champion in the shot put and the weight throw, becoming the second man to achieve the feat and the first athlete from his school to win an NCAA individual title in any sport. He also placed second in the discus and fourth in the shot put at the 2019 NCAA outdoor championships. This is his first Olympic team.
After winning his second straight Olympic Trials, Finley promised that when he gets to Tokyo, he’ll be able to handle the big stage better than he did in Rio, where he was 11th. “I’m not going to be so starstruck,” Finley said. Coming into the competition with back issues that had kept him out of competition since early May, Finley was in fifth place after three throws at the Trials. On his fourth throw of 62.80 meters (206-0), he pulled into the lead. Then Finley, 30, of Chaffee County, Colorado, unleashed a throw of 63.07 meters (206-11) on his fifth attempt for a nice cushion. Finley, who also played football and basketball in high school, was named the 2009 Track &Field News Boys High School Athlete of the Year after breaking the high school discus record. An eight-time All-American for the University of Kansas and the University of Wyoming, his best finish was second place. Finley graduated from Wyoming with a degree in theater. He is a volunteer assistant coach for the Kansas Jayhawks.
The 2018 U.S. national champion and 2019 Pan American Games bronze medalist was stuck in fourth place after three throws at the Trials. Jagers, 26, then dropped to fifth in the next round. The Solon, Ohio, native knew he had big throws in him this season after producing a throw of 67.82 meters in early June, which is No. 6 on the world list. On his sixth throw, Jagers made his first Olympic team with a distance of 62.61 meters (205-5). Jagers, who competed in football and track at Kent State University, had a rough time after winning his first U.S. national title. His dad passed away before the 2019 nationals and he finished ninth, failing to make the world team after rolling his ankle. Jagers then tore his pectoral muscle in 2020. “It was one punch after another,” he said. But that’s in the past. “I’m an Olympian now.”
A hot commodity after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Mattis turned down a lucrative job offer at JP Morgan’s commercial mortgage backed securities desk - where he had interned - to chase his dream of becoming an Olympian. Mattis secured that Olympic berth on his first try in the final, a throw of 62.51 meters (205-1), and then hung on for third place. Mattis, 27, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, was the 2015 NCAA champion in the discus for Pennsylvania and set an American collegiate college record of 221-3. At the 2016 Olympic Trials, he placed ninth. Three years after leaving school, Mattis was the U.S. national champion in 2019 and placed 11th at his first world championships. He is a former roommate of hammer thrower Rudy Winkler.
Curtis Thompson competes in the Men's Javelin Throw Final during day four of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 21, 2021 in Eugene, Ore.
When Thompson won his first U.S. national title in 2018, there was no big event that year. Three years later, he won the Trials with a throw of 82.78 meters (271-7), but did not have the Olympic qualifying standard. Thompson, 25, of Florence, New Jersey, got his invitation to Tokyo based on his world ranking. At the 2016 Trials, he threw his personal best of 82.78 to finish second, but did not qualify for the Rio Olympic Games. Thompson wore Team USA for the first time in 2014 when he was the U.S. junior champ and competed at the IAAF world juniors in Eugene. Thompson was the 2016 NCAA champion for Mississippi State, majoring in mathematics, and was second in the 2018 NACAC Championships. Thompson is a member of the USA javelin project spearheaded by Tom Pukstys, a 1992 and 1996 Olympian.
The winner of the U.S. national title in 2019 and fourth-place finisher in Pan American Games, Shuey had to wait for the world rankings to find out if he had qualified for the Olympics. He had a throw of 79.24 meters at the Olympic Trials to place second, but had not met the qualifying standard. The 27-year-old native of Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, competed for Penn State University where he was a two-time Big Ten champion in 2013 and 2014. However, Shuey suffered two torn ligaments in his elbow at the Big Ten meet in 2015 and missed the entire 2016 season. In 2017, he was second in the Big Ten, third at the NCAA meet and third at U.S. nationals. Shuey, who took up fly fishing in college, competed at the 2019 worlds, but did not make the final. He said his best throw at Trials was a “safety throw.” “It’s kind of disappointing to know that I have that kind of power, but I’m kind of a glass cannon,” he said. “If it doesn’t go straight, it’s going to go all over the place.”
An American record that had stood for 25 years was no match for Winkler, who was undefeated in 2021 and closing in on the mark upon his arrival at Trials. On his second throw of the final, Winkler released his record-breaking throw of 82.71 meters (271-4) while former record holder Lance Deal looked on. Winkler broke the record by 7 inches. The 2017 NCAA champ from Cornell University also surpassed 80 meters on five of his six throws. Winkler, 26, of Sand Lake, New York, could have won the competition with any of his attempts. And this time the cyber security analyst didn’t have to press “refresh” on his computer like he did in 2016. Although he won the 2016 Trials, because he didn’t have the qualifying standard, Winkler had to wait a couple of weeks to find out if he would be invited. He was, placing 18th. Now Winkler goes into Tokyo with the No. 2 throw in the world.
As one of three throwers with the Olympic standard vying for the other two spots behind Winkler, Haugh established himself early. He opened with a throw of 76.42 meters (250-9) and ended with a personal best of 79.39 (260-5), which is the No. 6 throw in the world this year. Haugh was one of the nation’s top prep throwers. He was an All-American at the University of Alabama and then transferred to Kennesaw State University, which is outside Atlanta, for his redshirt senior season. Haugh was the 2019 NCAA champion in the hammer and also won the 35-pound weight throw at the NCAA indoor nationals. The 26-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, was second at the 2019 U.S. nationals, earning a trip to the world championships, where he did not advance out of the qualifying round. This is his first Olympic team.
The 26-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, was guaranteed his first Olympic berth going into his final throw at the Trials, but he wasn’t satisfied. On his sixth attempt, he produced a personal best of 78.32 meters (256-11). After Young placed 13th at the 2016 Olympic Trials, his career has been on the upswing. He won the 35-pound weight throw at the 2017 U.S. indoor nationals and then captured the 2017 U.S. national hammer throw title. However, at his first world championships, Young did not advance to the final. In 2018, he was runner-up in the 35-pound weight throw and in the hammer and then in 2019 he took third in the weight throw and sixth in the hammer. While competing for Southeastern Louisiana University, he won the 35-pound weight throw at the NCAA meet in 2016 and was the hammer throw NCAA champ in 2017.
Devastated after placing fourth at the 2016 Olympic Trials and missing Team USA by one spot, Scantling retired for nearly four years. He tried pro football and became a financial advisor. But the lure of the 10-event decathlon was too strong for him to resist. Scantling, 28, dipped in a toe by winning the 2020 U.S. indoor heptathlon. Then all of the University of Georgia All-American’s training finally paid off when he won his first U.S. title at the Olympic Trials. Scantling scored a lifetime best of 8,647 points - 419 points better than his 2016 performance. The native of Jacksonville, Florida, set personal bests in the 100, 110 hurdles, discus throw, and pole vault. His score ranks eighth on the all-time U.S. list and is the No. 2 score in the world this year after Damian Warner of Canada (8,995). Team USA has won a medal in every Olympic decathlon since 1992.
The native of Saline, Michigan, came into the Trials without the Olympic qualifying standard. After setting personal bests in the 100, shot put, high jump, 110 hurdles and javelin and equalling his lifetime best in the pole vault, Bastien needed 662 points in the 1500 to hit the standard of 8,350 points. He scored 797 points, chopping more than 7 seconds off his PR in the event, to amass 8,485 points and qualify for Team USA. Bastien finished first among all of the athletes in the 100 and 400 and was second in the 1,500. The 27-year-old spent two seasons at Samford University before transferring to the University of Michigan, where he was a Big Ten champion and All-American. Bastien, whose father, Gary, was also a decathlete, now has the No. 4 score on the 2021 world list.
The 2018 national champion knew that if wanted to make his second straight Olympic team, he would have to reach the Olympic qualifying standard during the two-day decathlon. Ziemek, 28, recorded personal bests in the high jump and pole vault (where he scored 1,083 points). Going into the 1,500, the Itasca, Illinois, native needed only 555 points to hit the standard. He got 676 to finish with a personal best of 8,471 points. His score is No. 6 on the 2021 world list. Ziemek, a four-time NCAA All-American for the University of Wisconsin, placed seventh on his first trip to the Games in Rio, scoring 8,392 points. After the retirement of Ashton Eaton, Ziemek was second at the 2017 nationals to Trey Hardee and went to worlds, but did not finish the Doha decathlon. After his 2018 title, he had a DNF the following year.
Micah Williams, Cravon Gillespie in the 4 x 100; Trevor Stewart, Vernon Norwood, Elija Godwin in the 4 x 400; Bryce Deadmon, Wil London (alternate) in the 4 x 400 mixed.
Karen Rosen has covered every Summer and Winter Olympic Games since 1992 for newspapers, magazines and websites. Based in Atlanta, she has contributed to TeamUSA.org since 2009.