Grant Holloway and Rai Benjamin ran the second-fastest times in history in their hurdles events, Gabby Thomas ran the third-fastest 200m ever, a Usain Bolt record fell and a pair of Olympic gold medalists failed to qualify for Tokyo.
It was a news-making penultimate evening at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
Holloway, the world 110m hurdles champion, missed Aries Merritt‘s world record by .01 by clocking 12.81 seconds in the semifinals. He then won the final in 12.96 about 100 minutes later, joined on the team by Devon Allen and Daniel Roberts.
Holloway’s semi was stunning in part because his personal best was 12.98 seconds. He moved from joint-18th-fastest in history to No. 2 in one heat at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
“The goal was to execute at a very high level,” Holloway told Lewis Johnson on NBC after the semis. “I knew once I did that, the sky was the limit.”
Benjamin won the 400m hurdles final in 46.83 seconds, .05 off Kevin Young‘s world record from the 1992 Olympics, the longest-standing record in men’s track. Benjamin, the world silver medalist, is set for a showdown with two-time world champion Karsten Warholm of Norway and Abderrahman Samba of Qatar in Tokyo. They’ve been Nos. 2-4 in history behind Young since 2019.
“.05 isn’t anything in the grand scheme of things,” said Benjamin, who leads a men’s 400m hurdles team of Olympic rookies, joined by Kenny Selmon and David Kendziera. “It hurts a little bit that it was right there, and I couldn’t grab it, but it’s just more fuel for the fire. … If I got a world record now, would I be able to maintain that level of fitness [for the Olympics]?”
Thomas won the 200m in 21.61 seconds, a time only bettered by Florence Griffith Joyner in the 1980s (21.34 and 21.56). She lowered her personal best in all three rounds from 22.17.
“I’m speechless,” said Thomas, who graduated from Harvard with a neurobiology and global health/healthy policy degree and is pursuing a masters in epidemiology at Texas. “I’m still trying to gather my thoughts. I can’t believe it right now.”
Thomas was joined on the 200m team by Jenna Prandini and Anavia Battle. Allyson Felix was fifth in her baby event that she first raced at the Olympics at age 18 in 2004. She’ll race the 400m and up to two relays at her last Olympics in Tokyo.
ON HER TURF: Thomas’ atypical trip to Tokyo
World champion DeAnna Price won the hammer by twice breaking her U.S. record with 79.98- and 80.31-meter throws to rank No. 2 in history. Poland’s two-time reigning Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk holds the six best throws in history (was 15 best going into Saturday).
“Mind blowing,” Price said. “I was supposed to be a softball player.”
Price is joined on the Olympic team by Brooke Andersen and Gwendolyn Berry, who rank Nos. 2 and 3 in the world this year. Berry raised a fist on the podium after winning the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Jenn Suhr, the 2012 Olympic pole vault champion who made the last 10 Olympic and world teams, finished fifth to miss the Tokyo team at age 39. Rio silver medalist Sandi Morris was third to grab the last spot on the team behind Katie Nageotte and Morgann LeLeux. Nageotte took three attempts at breaking Yelena Isinbayeva‘s world record from 2009.
Rio gold medalist Tianna Bartoletta finished 10th in the long jump final and will not defend her title in Tokyo. Brittney Reese, who earned gold and silver at the last two Olympics, won with a 7.13-meter jump.
In semifinals, 17-year-old pro Erriyon Knighton ran 19.88 seconds to break Usain Bolt‘s U20 world record of 19.93. Last month, Knighton broke Bolt’s U18 world record. On Saturday, Knighton edged world champion Noah Lyles by .03 in their heat as both made Sunday’s final. Knighton can become the youngest male U.S. track and field Olympian since miler Jim Ryun in 1964.
Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin, the two fastest women’s 400m hurdlers in history, advanced to Sunday’s final. McLaughlin ran an easy 53.03 to win her semifinal. Muhammad was passed by Shamier Little in the last straight in their semifinal, 53.71 to 53.86.
In the javelin, Maggie Malone made her second Olympic team and Kara Winger is going to a fourth Games.
ON HER TURF: History DeAnna Price can make in Tokyo
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