Toughest Ticket to Tokyo

By: Kyle Markley

With the Olympic Trials less than a month away, distance runners are focused on one of two things: trying to get the Olympic standard or focusing all attention on trying to make the team. With Olympic team being the hardest team to qualify for in track and field, it is only fitting to break down the toughest male and female distance event to qualify for Tokyo. 

Men's 5000m

Starting with the men’s side, my research led me to one event: The 5k. In total there are twelve men that have the Olympic standard and five that are in the ranking’s quota, which means that even though they do not have the time standard, they do have a high enough ranking in the world to qualify for the Olympics. Now, there is a good chance that some of these athletes will scratch the 5k for other events. Regardless, the 5000m field has one of the biggest pools of runners with the Olympic standard. 

With times ranging from 12:58 to 13:24, the race is truly up for grabs with no clear shoe-ins. There are, however, early favorites to qualify like defending Olympic 5k silver medalist Paul Chelimo along with veterans like Lopez Lomong, Hassan Mead, and Shadrick Kipchirchir looking to qualify for another team. However, some of the most exciting runners in this race will be the young crop of runners including up-and-coming talent like Grant Fisher, Joe Klecker, Sean McGorty, and Cooper Teare all looking to make their first of hopefully many Olympic teams. With a strong group of veterans along with an eager young class of runners, the 5000m surely won't disappoint. 

Women's 1500m

On the women’s side the race that is proving to be the toughest is the 1500m. This race is jam packed with eleven women having already achieved the Olympic standard and an additional four that meet the rankings quota. Leading the charge are veteran Olympians Shelby Houlihan and Jenny Simpson. But, much like the men's 5000m, there is a group of stars on the rise that includes Elle Purrier, Nikki Hiltz, and Sinclaire Johnson. The USA women’s 1500m is on the rise with the growing success that this field is showing on the global scale. It is one event that shows promise for an American woman to podium in Tokyo. This race will surely be one of the highlight races to watch come the trials. 

After everything that has happened in the last 12 months leading into the Olympic Trials, this team is stacking up to be the toughest and most competitive to date, especially on the distance side of races. The men's 5000m and women's 1500m will showcase some of the best runner’s this country has to offer, creating two events that will no doubt bring some fireworks come the bell lap. I for one will be watching, and hopefully you will too!

Drop in the comments the event you're most excited to watch!