Meet Some of the Stars of the U.S. Track and Field Team

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Photo credit: Cameron Spencer - Getty Images
Photo credit: Cameron Spencer - Getty Images


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Whenever I think about the summer Olympics, my mind immediately goes to track and field. It just feels most representative of the whole shabang to me. Maybe it’s because many of the events are ancient, literally. The 200- and 400-meter dashes have been around since 700 BC., so has discus throwing. Or maybe it’s because Track and field is the only Olympic event I’ve ever seen in person. When Atlanta hosted the games in 1996, my family made the four-hour drive south on I-95 to see Michael Johnson, the man with the golden shoes, shatter multiple world records. Whatever the reason, I’ve always relished Track and field days at the Olympics, and I’m particularly excited for this weekend’s events. With multiple world-record holders in its ranks, Team USA is poised to take home the gold across a wide swath of events.

Of course, notably absent from the roster is Sha’Carri Richardson, the 21-year-old Texas firecracker who delighted fans during the Olympic trials when she dominated the 100-meter dash in her signature long, purple nails and flowing, neon orange hair. Unfortunately, Richardson tested positive for marijuana and the one-month ban she received as punishment forced her to miss her signature event in Tokyo. She could’ve still participated in next week’s relays, because it is scheduled for after her suspension ends, but officials chose not to include her citing fairness to the other athletes.

Even without Richardson, there is still plenty of talent on Team USA and lots of opportunities for medals. From rookies to veterans, here’s a look at a few of the stars of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and field team.

You can watch all of the track and field events on any number of NBC Universal channels including NBC, USA, NBC Sports, or CNBC. You can also stream coverage on NBCSports.com, NBCOlympics.com, peacocktv.com, the NBC Sports app, or with a Fubo TV subscription.


Allyson Felix

Photo credit: Patrick Smith - Getty Images
Photo credit: Patrick Smith - Getty Images

If she picks up just one medal in Tokyo, five-time Olympian Allyson Felix will become the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history. She’ll also tie Carl Lewis for the most medals by any track and field athlete. A Los Angeles native, Felix was just 18 when she won her first gold medal in the 200-meter dash at the 2004 Athens games. She then went on to win 9 more medals—six gold and three silver— at Beijing, London, and Rio de Janeiro.

Winning in Tokyo would also give Felix her first medal as a Mom. The 12-time world champion gave birth to daughter Camryn in 2018. Shortly after, she penned an op-ed in the New York Times, detailing Nike’s cruel and unsupportive maternity policies. As a result of her and other runners’ stories, Nike created a new maternity policy for all of its sponsored athletes. In a recent Instagram post, Felix discussed being an advocate writing,”The world doesn’t need more shoes, but the world does need to see women wholly and meet them right where they are.”

Tune in to watch Felix run the mixed 4x400-meter relay final on Saturday, July 31, at 8:35 a.m. EST and the 400-meter finals on Friday, August 6, at 8:35 a.m. EST

Noah Lyles

Photo credit: Cliff Hawkins - Getty Images
Photo credit: Cliff Hawkins - Getty Images

Dubbed the new Usain Bolt by his fans, Noah Lyles is one of several awesome rookies that are favored to win gold on the track in Tokyo. The 24-year-old is the current world champion in the 200 meters. At the 2019 World Championships, he set his personal best, clocking in at 19.50 seconds. Michael Johnson, the current American record holder, said he thinks Lyles is the only sprinter capable of breaking his record of 19.32 seconds. Lyles came by his speed naturally. His parents, Keisha Caine and Kevin Lyles, were track and field athletes at Seton Hall University and his brother, Josephus, is also a world-class sprinter.

Lyles’ open and outgoing personality make him a fan favorite too. On more than one occasion, Lyles has dyed his hair to match his favorite Dragonball Z character. He’s also spoken openly about depression, including a recent bout during the pandemic that he has since recovered from, and his decision to titrate off of his medication ahead of the games.

In a profile in Sports Illustrated, Lyles was quoted as saying, “The job of the medication was basically to neutralize my mood. It got me out of the darker areas of my mind, but when I tried to reach higher than normal, it would always keep me buffered at what it considered a normal, calm behavior. It was very hard for me to get up to that excitement level. Say if 50% is normal. I’m stuck between 40 to 60%, and I’m trying to get that to 90%.”

Watch Lyles sprint the Men’s 200-m final on on Wednesday, August 4 at 8:55 a.m. EST

Trayvon Brommell

Photo credit: Ashley Allen - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ashley Allen - Getty Images

What Noah Lyles is to the 200-meter dash, Trayvon Bromell is to the 100 meter. Having run a personal best of 9.77 he is the current fastest man of the year, and the seventh fastest man of all time. In June, Bromell won the 100-meter final of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials with a time of 9.80. The Florida native hasn’t lost a 100-meter race since 2019.

Despite his many victories, it’s been a difficult few years for Bromell. After a series of injuries derailed his medal quest at the Rio games, Bromell took time off to recover. In 2017, he underwent two major surgeries to his Achilles which forced him to sit out the 2018 season. Then, just as he was getting back to racing, he suffered a serious hip injury. But Bromell always manages to bounce back. Raised by a single mother who worked hard to keep a roof over his head, Bromell learned at an early age how to be resilient.

In an interview with The Guardian, the native Floridian discussed his injuries saying, “I’ve had all these injuries that most will probably never come back from. I’ve met with many doctors, more than any one athlete should have to meet. And they all came back with the same result: ‘You won’t run fast.’ I’ve been hearing that since I was in eighth grade when I broke my knee the first time: ‘Sorry, sir, you will never run fast.’ I came back, ran fast. Broke other knee. Came back, ran fast. Broke my hip doing track and field. Came back. Ran fast.” Win or lose, Bromell says he is satisfied to just be at the Games and to be setting a positive example for others.

You can watch Bromell run the 100 meter finals on Sunday, August 1 at 8 p.m. EST

Tara Davis

Photo credit: Steph Chambers - Getty Images
Photo credit: Steph Chambers - Getty Images

With her white cowboy hat and long braids, University of Texas long jumper Tara Davis is easy to spot, and her fun-loving personality makes her easy to root for too. Davis made her first Olympic team after leaping 7.04 meters (an inch over 23 feet) during the Olympic trials in June. She finished second, behind her idol and Olympic gold medalist Brittney Reese.

"I've literally been watching [Reese] since I was a youngin', since I started track when I was 4 years old," Davis said in an interview after qualifying for Tokyo. "I've only seen [Reese] on TV, but now I'm jumping with her . . . That's insane!" Davis's jump was 3.5 inches behind Reese's first place finish.

Davis is also one half of an Olympic power couple. Her long-term boyfriend Hunter Woodhall is a two-time Paralympic medalist, winning a silver and a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 in the 200-meter and 400-meter sprints, respectively. Naturally, the couple met at a track event and have been rooting for each other ever since. Right after he finished competing in the Paralympic trials, Woodhall caught a flight to Eugene, Oregon to cheer Davis on during her race. "Just seeing Tara in her element, just absolutely killing it in every way, was super special," he said. For Davis, the feeling was mutual. "Having him there was just unreal. Getting to hug him and getting to hug my family afterwards, it was just very, very special." After the trials, Davis and Woodhall went to a local bar to celebrate.

While Davis will have her work cut out for her if she wants to pull ahead of her idol, she says she’s happy to just be competing alongside Woodhall, and the couple’s infectious optimism is sure to command a lot of attention this weekend.

If everything keeps going well for Davis, she’ll chase gold in the long jump finals on Monday, August 2, 9:50 p.m. EST


JuVaughn Harrison

Photo credit: Andy Lyons - Getty Images
Photo credit: Andy Lyons - Getty Images

Field athletes are specialists. Their sports require expertise. The ability to throw a discus doesn’t guarantee a talent for shotput. So it is then that Juvaughn Harrison is the rarest of athletes—a man who can jump both high and far. Not since Jim Thorpe did it in 1912 has someone competed in the high jump and the long jump. But if things go the way they’ve been trending, the Huntsville, Alabama native might just break the century-long drought and even bring home a medal to boot.

Harrison won both the long jump and the high jump at the US National Team Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. He also won both events at the NCAA national championships in March. He’s the only man in history capable of jumping at least 8.4 meters in the long jump and 2.30 meters in the high jump. The LSU grad who majored in biomedical engineering is currently ranked number two in the world in both events. If he manages to grab gold in both events, he’ll accomplish something that hasn’t been done since 1896 at the first modern Games in Athens. “Amazing,” fellow long jumper Marquis Dendy said of Harrison’s quest. “All kinds of crazy.”

Harrison will leap for gold in the men’s high jump final on Sunday, August 1 at 6:10 a.m. EST and again in the long jump final at 9:20 p.m.

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