The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

The Games Have Arrived!

Jul 29th, 2021
3:46 pm PDT

It’s here. The Tokyo Olympic Games have finally arrived.We’ve had several sports already take place, and now it’s time for the heart of the Olympics, Track and Field, to take to the stage!

The world has been waiting for five years, half a decade, for the next week and a half. And while there have been World Championships and other championship meets that have taken place in the time in between, for track and field the Olympics are IT!. It’s the one time every four years that the world actually pays attention to this sport. Many people don’t know that for most of his career, Usain Bolt rarely competed – that’s a fact. However, the WORLD knows about Usain Bolt because he competed in every Olympics and to his credit won! That’s all you need to know about the Games – it’s the most important competition on the planet!

So, now is the time for all athletes that have any hope of getting global recognition to step up and do their thing. Want to be Jesse Owens then come here and win like Carl Lewis – who pulled a Jesse Owens winning four medals in one Games, then won the same event in four different Games. This is the platform.

For the next ten days, the eyes of the world will be on the Olympic Stadium, and I’m going to do my best to keep up on the action. That starts with the opening events, the best of which will be the women’s 100 and 800 and the men’s 400 hurdles.

The women’s 800 will feature Athing Mu. A young 19 year old American that has set collegiate records in both the 400 AND 800 during the earlier part of the year. Here in Tokyo, she’s focusing on the 800 and enters as the world leader at 1:56.07 – second fastest ever American. She’s a prodigy of sorts, the athletic kind, but has shown extreme poise as she’s literally destroyed every field she has faced in every event. She is the real deal, and I think people all over the world are waiting to see what se does next. She will have her hands full here, as there are another five women with times under 1:57. But I have faith in Ms Mu – she’s the truth.

The women’s 100 looks to be a Jamaican affair this time around. American Sha’Carri Richardson would’ve been in the mix, but as most know by now is serving a 30 day suspension for Cannabis use. That leaves a trio of Jamaicans as the primary protagonists for 100 gold. Defending Olympic champion Elaine Thompson Herah; previous Olympic champion Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce; and Shericka Jackson. While Fraser Pryce has run 10.63 earlier in the summer to become #2 all time, I tend to favor the defending champion who has run a 10.70 of her own.

Jamaican’s aside, Brit Dina Asher Smith is capable of running sub 10.90 which could put her in range of the podium. Same for American Javianne Oliver, one of the faster starters in the field. If she can put pressure on Fraser Pryce early, she could change the race for everyone. We will know how sharp everyone is in the next 24 hours.

That goes for the men in the 400 hurdles, which opens as one of the most anticipated events of these Games. Between Olympic Trials and this meet, Karsten Warholm did what no one else had done since 1992 – run faster than 46.78. That’s what Keven Young ran to win the Barcelona Games, and lived as the WR since. Month ago, however, Warholm ran 46.70 and comes into the meet as the new WR holder. About a week before Warholm ran his record, Rai Benjamin won the US Trials with a 46.83 of his own – at the time the #2 race ever. Never have two runners this fast faced each other. At least holding these PRs, Warholm and Benjamin last faced each other in the 2019 World Championships. A race won by Warholm, 47.42 to 47.66. The results, if anything, should be much faster. And Rai will be looking for a different outcome. This will be one of the hottest finals of the first few days. Must see TV.

Those are what I think will be the highlight events as we open up. The awesome thing about the Olympics is that they are fluid – things change from moment to moment. And there are always individuals that somehow catch fire and make things interesting. I’m sure that Tokyo will be no different. That’s the fun of the Games. Watching not just exciting competition, but watching the emergence of new talent. With that, here’s to a week and a half of serious track and field. Let the Games begin.

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