Track and Field Preview

USA Track & Field is coming off world-leading performances at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, where Team USA won the most medals at 32, and the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, where the U.S. again led in medals with 29.

That momentum continued at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials earlier this summer, when U.S. athletes came back from a mostly lost 2020 to claim their spots on the Olympic team with some record-breaking performances. From Sydney McLaughlin’s world record time in the 400-meter hurdles to Noah Lyles posting the world-leading time in the 200, U.S. athletes showed that they’re ready for Tokyo. 

The winningest country in the history of Olympic track and field, Team USA brings medal potential across the board, with a strong mix of veterans and newcomers all looking to make their mark in the Japanese capital. The team includes 13 returning medalists from Rio, six reigning world champions and eight NCAA national champions from the 2021 season. Eighty-one athletes will be making their Olympic debuts.

Reigning Olympic gold medalists Matthew Centrowitz (1,500), Ryan Crouser (shot put) and Dalilah Muhammad (400 hurdles) return for Tokyo, along with several other Rio medalists including Paul Chelimo (5000), Will Claye (triple jump), Emma Coburn (steeplechase), Allyson Felix (400), Sam Kendricks (pole vault), Joe Kovacs (shot put), Sandi Morris (pole vault), Clayton Murphy (800), Brittney Reese (long jump) and Galen Rupp (marathon).

They will be bolstered by defending world champions seeking their first Olympic medals, including Grant Holloway (110 hurdles), Noah Lyles (200) and DeAnne Price (hammer throw), as well as other rising stars such as high jumper Vashti Cunningham, hurdler Sydney McLaughlin, sprinter Michael Norman and 800-meter runners Raevyn Rogers and Ajeé Wilson.

Updated on July 7, 2021. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

• Based off Sydney McLaughlin’s world record run at trials, Team USA will again have high expectations in hurdles. McLaughlin and reigning Olympic gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad dueled down the stretch, but McLaughlin ended up shattering Muhammad’s record. They should continue their battle in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Keni Harrison comes into the women’s 100 hurdles as the world record holder. On the men’s side, reigning world champion Grant Holloway is the indoor world record holder and was .01 shy of breaking the outdoor world record at trials. World championships runner-up and NCAA champion Rai Benjamin could challenge Kevin Young’s 35-year-old world record in the men’s 400-meter hurdles.

• Youth will be served as the Olympic team includes some athletes who are not only young but hold a lot of promise to have international success. The youngest member of the team is 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton, who turned pro this year following his junior year of high school and set two junior world records in May. He will run the 200. Second youngest on the team is 19-year-old Athing Mu, the 800-meter winner at trials who is fresh off a dominant performance for Texas A&M at the NCAA championships.  

• Back for a fifth — and likely final — Olympic Games is six-time gold medalist Allyson Felix. While little has changed for Felix in terms of her ability — her trials time of 50.02 seconds in the 400 was her fastest time since 2017 — much has changed off the track as she has become a mother since the Rio Games. Daughter Camryn, born in 2018, was on hand at trials to see her mom make it back to the Games in the 400. With another medal in Tokyo, Felix would become the most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history.

• Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs went 1-2 in the men’s shot put at the Rio Games, then switched spots atop the podium in Doha. In limited competition in 2020, Crouser had throws at or near 22 meters, but was on another level at the Olympic trials, where he set the world record with a throw of 23.37 meters. Both Americans head to Tokyo as favorites to reach the medal podium once again. 

• Noah Lyles, 24, followed up his 2019 world championship in the 200 by setting the world leading time at trials, winning the event in 19.74 and making his first Olympic team. A 2014 Youth Olympian, Lyles was the 2018 USATF Jesse Owens Best Male Athlete of the Year.

• Raevyn Rogers, 24, came from behind at the 2019 world championships, her first global championship, to claim the silver medal in the 800, solidifying her position as a major challenger in the event. Teammate Ajee Wilson, 27, took bronze for the second world championships in a row. However, up-and-comer Athing Mu, 19, topped both of them at trials, setting up a potential U.S. charge at the podium in Tokyo.

• Sprinter Michael Norman, 23, first gained national attention back at the 2016 Olympic trials when as a high school senior he bested Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin in the 200. Norman missed out on the Rio team but will be in Tokyo after winning the 400 at trials. Norman also has a special connection to Japan as his mother, Nobue, was born in Japan and was once a top sprinter for her home country.

• Rio Olympic gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad was a double world championships gold medalist in the 400 hurdles and 4x400 in 2019. The 31-year-old has four career world championship medals, but in Tokyo will face steep competition from teammate Sydney McLaughlin, 21, who won the event at the Olympic trials in world record time. McLaughlin made her Olympic debut in Rio at age 17.

• Without his longtime teammate out due to injury, Will Claye could have his golden opportunity in men’s triple jump. Claye, 30, has Olympic silver medals in the event from 2012 and 2016, finishing behind fellow former Florida Gator Christian Taylor each time. Claye also has two silver and two bronze medals in the triple jump from the world championships, as well as a 2012 Olympic bronze medal in long jump. Taylor, who is also a four-time world champ, will miss the Tokyo Games due to a ruptured Achilles.  

• Emma Coburn, the Rio bronze medalist and world championships gold (2017) and silver (2019) medalist in women's steeplechase, has remained atop of the American field in the event for nearly a decade, having accomplished almost everything except Olympic gold. The 30-year-old was the first American to win a steeplechase world championship and broke her own American record to do it.

• Aliphine Tuliamuk clinched her Olympic marathon spot by winning the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in February 2020. Tuliamuk, 32, won in 2:27:23, the second-fastest winning time in race history. The Kenyan-born marathoner who grew up in Arizona is a 10-time national champion.

• Olympic silver and bronze medalist Galen 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 at the age of 35. Rupp is also an Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000 from 2012.

• July 30, 2021: Olympic competition gets underway with men’s 10,000 as the first final
• July 31, 2021: Finals in men’s discus, mixed 4x100 and women’s 100
• August 1, 2021: Finals in women’s shot put, men’s high jump, women’s triple jump, men’s 100
• August 2, 2021: Finals in men’s long jump, women’s 100 hurdles, women’s discus, men’s 3,000 steeplechase, women’s 5,000
• August 3, 2021: Finals in women’s long jump, men’s 400 hurdles, men’s pole vault, women’s hammer throw, women’s 800, women’s 200
• August 4, 2021: Finals in women’s 400 hurdles, women’s 3,000 steeplechase, men’s hammer throw, men’s 800, men’s 200
• August 5, 2021: Finals in men’s triple jump, men’s shot put, men’s 110 hurdles, men’s 20-kilometer race walk, women’s pole vault, men’s 400
• August 6, 2021: Finals in men’s 50-kilometer race walk, women’s 20-kilometer race walk, women’s javelin, men’s 5,000, women’s 400, women’s 1,500, women’s 4x100, men’s 4x100
• August 7, 2021: Finals in women’s marathon, women’s high jump, women’s 10,000, men’s javelin, men’s 1,500, women’s 4x400, men’s 4x400
• August 8, 2021: Men’s marathon final