If the USA Track and Field Trials foreshadowed the Olympic team’s fortunes in Tokyo, several world records will be held by Americans by the time the Games conclude in what could be a historic showing. The Olympics officially begin July 23 when the opening ceremony takes place, and the U.S. track and field athletes will be eager to start their respective events after many stellar displays at Hayward Field, located on the campus of the University of Oregon, site of last month’s trials.
Even the disappointing suspensions of two of the United States’ best sprinters can’t put a damper on the hopes of a still formidable team. Sha’Carri Richardson, the 21-year-old women’s 100-meter trials winner, was suspended for one month beginning on June 4 for testing positive for marijuana. Also on June 4, a five-year ban was imposed on 29-year-old Brianna Rollins-McNeal, the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics gold medalist in the women’s 110-meter hurdles, for what was termed “tampering within the results management process.”
Rollins-McNeal missed a mandatory drug test scheduled for Jan. 12, 2020, that was to be administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, then claimed to have innocuously corrected the dates on medical documentation presented as evidence explaining why she was unavailable for the test. Additionally, in October of the last year, reigning 100-meter world champion, 25-year-old Christian Coleman, was suspended until mid-November of this year for a series of missed drug tests.
Conversely, those that will be in Tokyo with strong chances to capture gold are men’s 100-meter favorite Trayvon Bromell and 200-meter specialist Noah Lyles. Bromell became the man to beat after Coleman was shelved, while Lyles has been the dominant figure in the men’s 200 for well over a year. University of Florida product Grant Holloway is poised to win his first Olympic gold in the men’s 110-meter hurdles after earning top placing at the 2019 World Championships.
Expect another outstanding showing from shot putter Ryan Crouser, who set the world record at the trials last month with a heave of 76 feet, 8 1/4 inches, shattering a mark that had held for 31 years. In another field event, triple-jumper Will Claye is on the precipice of winning his first Olympic gold following second place finishes at the 2012 London Olympics and in 2016 in Rio.
The epic battle in the women’s 400-meter hurdles will continue in Tokyo as current world record holder Sydney McLaughlin and former standard bearer Dalilah Muhammad are the consensus picks to finish first and second. A prevailing debate is in what order? McLaughlin ran 51.90 seconds at the U.S. trials, becoming the first woman to ever break the 52-second barrier. Muhammad, the 2016 gold medalist in Rio, who previously established the mark at 52.16 in 2019, clocked 52.42 for second place at the trials.
In the women’s 100-meter hurdles, Rollins-McNeal’s absence does not lessen the United States’ chances to bag another gold medal. The U.S. has won gold in three out of the last four Olympics (2004, 2008 and 2016), and Keni Harrison is the leading contender to make it four out of five.