Molly Huddle’s and Shannon Rowbury’s Olympic Days Appear To Be Over – Both Will Not Compete At US Olympic Trials

By Jonathan Gault
June 14, 2021

Molly Huddle and Shannon Rowbury, two of the greatest American distance runners of their generation, will not be at this year’s US Olympic Trials, which open Friday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Huddle and Rowbury, both 36, have combined to make five Olympic teams and set five American records across the 1500, 5,000, and 10,000 meters, but will miss out on the 2021 Trials due to injury. Rowbury didn’t enter the meet while Huddle scratched from the 10,000.

Huddle, the five-time reigning US champ in the 10,000 and American record holder at the distance (30:13), has been battling her body for over a year. She ran her buildup for last February’s Olympic Trials marathon on an injured ankle, and though she has continued to train and race this year in an attempt to make a third Olympic team on the track, her performances have not been up to her usual high standard. She dropped out of her season opener at the Sound Running Invite in March, and in her last two races, she ran 15:23 at the USATF Golden Games on May 9 and 15:24 at the Platinum PT Qualifier on May 29 — times that a peak Huddle would have been able to run as a split during a 10k.

“Since the Trials marathon buildup, I tore my peroneal during that and ever since then I’ve been compensating weird, so all the way up to my hip,” Huddle told LetsRun after the Platinum PT Qualifier. “The ankle feels fine, it’s just more hip at this point.”

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Huddle outkicked Rowbury to win the US 5k title in 2014

Rowbury, by contrast, had a strong chance to make the Olympic team had the Trials been held as originally scheduled in 2020. She was in great form last year, running 4:02 and 14:45 for 1500 and 5000, her fastest times at those distances since 2016. But Rowbury developed an injury while training in Park City shortly after her 2021 season opener, a 4:09 1500 at the Sound Running Track Meet on May 15. Her coach Pete Julian did not disclose the injury, but said that it made it impossible for Rowbury to compete at the Trials.

“To make four Olympic teams, you need to be an amazing runner and you also gotta have a little luck on your side and that luck ran out for her,” Julian said. “…She had an amazing season last year, she was in good position to make the team this year, and even, we felt, be in a good position to be a medal contender again. But everything had to go perfect, and unfortunately it didn’t.”

Rowbury won the Olympic Trials 1500 in 2008 and finished 4th in the Olympic 1500 in both 2012 and 2016, the former after Turkish dopers Aslı Çakır Alptekin and Gamze Bulut were disqualified from the results.

Huddle, who owns a 2:26:33 personal best in the marathon, has said she intends to continue her career on the roads. For Rowbury, who gave birth to her first daughter, Sienna, in 2018, retirement is likely. She told Track & Field News that she had planned on retiring after the 2020 season before COVID hit, and that her Nike contract expires at the end of 2021 (it would have extended through 2022 had she made this year’s Olympic teams).

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