Rest of Day 8: Gabby Thomas Runs (Another) World Leader, Sydney McLaughlin and Rai Benjamin Advance

June 25, 2021

EUGENE, Ore. — Just two days remain in the 2020 US Olympic Trials at Hayward Field and qualifying is mostly wrapping up. Every remaining distance final is set (women’s 10k on Saturday, men’s 1500 and 5k and women’s 800 on Sunday) and most of the sprint finals are set, though there are still semifinals on tap in the women’s 400 hurdles and men’s 200 on Saturday.

The men’s 1500 and women’s 800 semis and men’s 200 prelims get their own articles, as does the men’s steeple final. For a recap of everything else that went down on day 8 in Eugene, including the 2020 Trials debuts of Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad another world leader for Gabby Thomas, read on below.

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*Full results

Men’s discus final: Finley wins third US title

2016 and 2017 US discus champ Mason Finley is back on top in 2021, as he threw 62.80 meters in round four to take the lead and 63.07 in round five to cement his victory and win his second straight Olympic Trials title. In the end, all three men with the 66.00-meter Olympic standard ended up making the team, going 1-2-3 as Finley was followed by Reggie Jagers (62.61) and Sam Mattis (62.51) — though Jagers made it dramatic as he was in fifth entering the final round before uncorking his best throw of the day.

Women’s 400 hurdles first round: Sydney McLaughlin cruises

The US is absolutely loaded in the women’s 400 hurdles, with the top two from the 2019 Worlds and the top two in the world in 2021. As a result, today’s 400 hurdles prelims were mostly a formality as the big guns — Sydney McLaughlin, Dalilah Muhammad, and Shamier Little — all advanced after winning their heats. McLaughlin was the fastest of the day at 54.07, but all three women looked untroubled and advanced with ease.

Men’s 400 hurdles semis: Benjamin cruises

Paul Merca for TrackTown USA

Eight men entered today’s 400 hurdles semis with the 48.90 Olympic standard. Seven of them will be in Saturday’s final as 2019 Worlds 5th placer TJ Holmes was the only one not to advance, finishing last in heat 1.

Kenny Selmon (48.51) and Rai Benjamin (48.61) won the heats, and defending US champ Benjamin looked far smoother than he did in yesterday’s prelims, essentially jogging the final 50 meters of the race. He looks primed for a fast time in the final.

Women’s 200 semis: Thomas, Prandini impress again

After impressive first round performances yesterday, Gabby Thomas and Jenna Prandini were once again the class of the field in the women’s 200, each winning their semifinal heats easily. First Prandini went 21.99 into a slight headwind (-0.3 m/s) to win heat 1, her first career sub-22 performance, to move up to #2 on the world list. Then Thomas went 21.94 (+1.8 m/s) in heat 2 to better her own personal best and world lead. 

The third-fastest time today went to none other than Allyson Felix, who ran 22.20 behind Prandini in heat 1. Felix is already on the 400 team.
The most notable names to miss the final were 100-meter team member Teahna Daniels and NCAA champion Cambrea Sturgis.

Men’s 110 hurdles first round: Holloway, Roberts, Allen win heats

Reigning world champion and indoor 60m hurdles world record holder Grant Holloway is in search of his first US outdoor title. Holloway looked to be in supreme form during the first step toward that goal in the first round of the men’s 110 hurdles, winning heat 1 by a mile in 13.11 (+0.7 m/s), the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. Holloway has also gone 13.07 (+1.3) this year for #2 on the world list in 2021.

“It’s a new year, nobody cares what happened in 2019, nobody cares what happened in 2020,” Holloway said. “It’s 2021 and we’re all fishing for the same goal.”

Reigning US champion Daniel Roberts also looked good in running a seasonal best 13.22 (+1.5 m/s) to win heat 2, while Oregon grad and three-time US champion Devon Allen appeared excited about his performance as he ran 13.26 (+0.5 m/s) to win heat 3.

“I have a big home field advantage,” Allen said. “I get a lot of love which is much appreciated.”

The fourth heat caused some issues with technology, as it required four restarts before the heat was away cleanly on the fifth start. The first three times, no athletes were DQ’d, although Trey Holloway (older brother of Grant) registered an illegally fast reaction time to the gun on at least two of the starts. On the fourth attempt, Washington State’s Samuel Brixey was disqualified due to a flinch. The starting officials hear a tone when an athlete reacts to the gun quicker than one tenth of a second, and the tone is triggered by pressure on the blocks, so Ato Boldon speculated on NBC that there could have been a problem with Holloway’s blocks.

NCAA champion Robert Dunning of Alabama (#5 American this year by time) did not start here, and Nicholas Anderson (#45 in the world) did not advance.

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