Athieng Mou of New Jersey sweeps to the Olympic final with a gold medal in sight at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Olympics are not supposed to appear this effortless — even more so when you’re only 19 years old.
Athing Mu, the Trenton teen track phenom, cruised to a 1:58.07 victory in the 800-meter semifinals on Saturday morning. She will run one more time in Tokyo on Tuesday, and based on her performances thus far this year, she will be a heavy favourite to win the gold.
Mu took a commanding lead into the final turn of her semifinal heat and appeared to ease off the gas as she cruised to the finish. Nonetheless, her time was only two seconds slower than the 1:56.07 she ran at the Olympic Trials, the second-fastest time ever run by an American.
Sam Mattis of East Brunswick, another New Jersey track and field star, finished eighth in the discus with a season-best throw of 209-6. Mattis had been volunteering as an assistant coach at Rutgers during the pandemic as he trained for this event.
For the New Jersey runner who owns the fastest time, the day was a bitter disappointment. Ajee Wilson of Neptune, who had been Team USA’s standard bearer in this event for the previous five years, finished fourth in her semifinal heat at 2:00.79 and was unable to advance to the final.
Mu, whose name is pronounced uh-THING moe, is competing in the event in an attempt to end a long American drought. Madeline Manning is the only American to have won Olympic gold in the women’s 800m, and no American runner has won a medal since Kim Gallagher took bronze in 1988.