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Heptathlon Star Anna Hall All Business Heading Into Olympic Trials

by Brian Pinelli

Anna Hall poses with the U.S. flag after competing in the 800-meter leg of the women's heptathlon at the 2023 World Athletics Championships on Aug. 20, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Getty Images)

Anna Hall is on a mission to qualify for her first U.S. Olympic team, and exorcize the demons of an untimely hurdles stumble and crash that crushed her Olympic hopes at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.


Hall, the world’s No. 1 ranked heptathlete, has progressively risen to the upper echelon of the physically demanding two-day, seven-event competition. She won a bronze medal at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, and then upgraded to silver last summer at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. However, there has also been heartbreak and setbacks along the way.


The versatile multi-sport athlete from Denver will begin her quest to qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 on Sunday morning, June 23. Hall and her ultra-fit competitors will hit the track for the heptathlon opening 100-meter hurdles at the historic Hayward Field. 


Hall explained her mindset and approach to the pressure-packed 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field.


“I think it’s pretty similar to any other year – the trials are never a given,” said the 23-year-old heptathlete. “We’ve seen enough times in the U.S. that crazy things can happen at trials – good things and crazy bad things. 


“I think the big focus for that meet is just taking it one event at a team and putting myself in a good position to be on the (Olympic) team,” she says about the event, which will determine which three athletes represent the U.S. in France.


Questioned by Team USA if there is additional fire inside for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 considering her mishap in 2021, Hall responds: “Absolutely, that has been the story of my career. In 2021, I got told no. I came back with fire in my belly in 2022 and exceeded expectations.


“In 2023, I feel like I got told no again. Indoors, I was really close to the world record and didn’t get it. Really close to 7,000 points in Götzis (Austria) and didn’t get it. Really close to gold in Budapest and didn’t get it.


“I’m just going to keep giving it my best and hopefully the chips will fall in my favor soon.”



Hall is still rebounding from a complex knee surgery in January, the procedure performed at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado. She elaborated upon her accelerated recovery process after competing in two events – the 100m hurdles and long jump – at the recent New York Grand Prix on June 9. 


“Obviously, with the Olympics we rushed back a little bit. They (doctors) met with my coaches and we talked about training and the full timeline after the surgery, like sprinting after 16 weeks, and we started competing at 13 weeks. 


“Definitely rushing it, but he was fully on board with that – letting us know when it is safe to push and this is where you have to wait.


“Definitely a big rush, but I’m hoping things start sharpening up soon,” she said.

Anna Hall competes during the long jump of the women's heptathlon at the 2023 World Athletics Championships on Aug. 20, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Getty Images)

The University of Florida graduate already possesses the fifth highest heptathlon score in history, and second highest among active athletes, only trailing two-time Olympic champion Nafi Thiam of Belgium. 


Hall scored a staggering 6,988 points at the renowned Hypo Meeting in Götzis, Austria, in May 2023. The 29-year-old Thiam owns a personal best of 7,013, and is one of only four women to surpass the 7,000-point barrier. Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s world record of 7,291 points remains the ultimate benchmark, established at the Olympic Games Seoul 1988.


However, before Hall engages in what has the potential to blossom into an epic showdown with Thiam at the Stade de France in Paris on Aug. 8-9, she’ll have to finish top three among her competitors on June 23-24 in Eugene.


Leading U.S. heptathletes who could pose a threat to Hall include veterans Chari Hawkins, 33, (World No. 12); Michelle Atherley, 28, (World No. 14); Taliyah Brooks, 29, (World No. 16), and Tokyo 2020 Olympian Annie Kunz, 31.


Rising talents Jadin O’Brien, 22, Allie Jones, 23, and Timara Chapman, 24, all have the potential to contend for the coveted top three positions and a ticket to Paris.



Hall and track and field legend Joyner-Kersee are the only two American heptathletes to have won multiple world championship medals. Joyner-Kersee also brought home a pair of heptathlon gold medals from the Olympic Games Seoul 1988 and Olympic Games Barcelona 1992. 


The 23-year-old Hall is obviously flattered when comparisons are made between she and Joyner-Kersee. The rising track star has spoken and consulted with JJK extensively, even receiving advice and added motivation before her world championship silver performance last summer in Budapest.


“It means a ton to be mentioned in the same sentence as her – I’m like I don’t deserve that and I’m not there yet, so it’s still a little bit humbling every time you guys do that,” Hall says, referring to the media.


“I’m super thankful for her and she has been nothing but encouraging and supportive,” Hall says, about the 62-year-old heptathlon icon.


No American woman has won an Olympic heptathlon since Joyner-Kersee went back-to-back in 1988 and 1992, and only one other female athlete, Hyleas Fountain, has medaled in the event, taking silver at Olympic Games Beijing 2008. 


Hall, a self-proclaimed hyper perfectionist, seems poised to shine brightly and end the 16-year U.S. Olympic medal slump on the Stade de France track in Paris.

 

For starters, she just needs to cleanly execute those pesky 100m hurdles and take care of business in Oregon next week.