U.S. Olympic track and field trials: Athing Mu won’t defend her 800 meters gold after stunning fall

Athing Mu’s attempt to defend her Olympic title in the women’s 800 meters came to a devastating end on Monday night.

In a shocking turn of events, Mu took a tumble halfway through the first lap of the race, putting her too far behind to catch up with the other runners.

Mu was running in the third lane when she veered too close to fellow Olympian Raevyn Rogers, causing their feet to get tangled. While Rogers managed to regain her balance, Mu ended up sprawled on the ground.

Three years after captivating the world with her radiant smile and unmatched speed at the Tokyo Olympics, Mu crossed the finish line at Hayward Field on Monday night with tears streaming down her face. Her time of 2:19.69 was more than 20 seconds slower than the winner, Nia Akins, as well as fellow Paris qualifiers Allie Wilson and Juliette Whittaker.
Unlike other countries, the Olympic selection process in the U.S. does not involve politics or rely on past achievements. It is solely based on the top three performers. This means that even if you are a former champion or a relatively unknown athlete, you must finish in the top three to secure your spot on the team.

If it weren’t for Mu’s fall, it’s highly likely that the 22-year-old would have won the race and easily secured a top-three position. Mu has been a shining star in U.S. track and field for years, even before she reached the legal drinking age.

Mu’s impressive track record includes breaking NCAA records while competing for Texas A&M, winning Olympic gold in the 800 meters and the 4×400-meter relay in 2021, and following it up with a victory at the World Championships the following year. Throughout her career, she has rarely tasted defeat, with her only setback being a bronze medal at last year’s World Championships.
Mu’s hopes for redemption this season were hindered by injuries. She made her season debut at the Olympic trials, which raised concerns about her fitness. However, Mu quickly answered those concerns by excelling in the qualifying rounds and posting the fastest semifinal time. It seemed like she would easily secure a spot on the U.S. team until she unfortunately fell during Monday night’s competition.

With Mu out, Akins, Wilson, and Whittaker will now have the task of filling her shoes. Akins, who won the U.S. 800 meters title last year, had opted to compete in the 1,500 while Mu was absent. Akins made it to the final at the World Championships in Budapest but finished in sixth place.

Whittaker, on the other hand, has shown her prowess by winning the NCAA indoor and outdoor 800 championships in 2024. As for Wilson, her best previous finish at the USA Outdoor Nationals was fourth place in 2022.