Athing Mu A Surprise Entrant for Pre Classic Diamond League Final

The entries for this weekend’s Prefontaine Classic, which will serve as the 2023 Diamond League final, were announced on Tuesday and they included a surprising name: Athing Mu.

The last time we saw Mu, the 2021 Olympic and 2022 world champion at 800 meters, she had just finished third in the 800m at the World Championships in Budapest on August 27 and looked set to end her season.

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“I can go home and finally go on vacation and stop thinking about track & field,” Mu said after the race.

Whether it’s because Mu changed her mind or her sponsor Nike put its foot down (many Nike athletes are required to compete at the Prefontaine Classic as part of their contract), it sure looks like Mu is thinking about track & field again. She is listed among the entrants for the women’s 800 meters (Sunday, 5:19 p.m. ET) alongside world champion Mary Moraa of Kenya and Worlds silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain.

Just because Mu is on the start list does not guarantee that she is competing. She was supposed to run the Millrose Games in February but withdrew the week of the meet. She was listed among the entrants at the Music City Track Carnival in June — something she claimed to have no knowledge of — but did not compete there and also withdrew from the Ed Murphey Classic in August.

The last time Mu ran at Pre, she set the American record (Kevin Morris photo)

But there are a few things that make the Prefontaine Classic different. One is that the full fields were not released until today — just four days before the meet begins. Spots in the Diamond League final are valuable property and if meet organizers knew Mu did not plan to run, they would have worked hard to replace her.

“All athletes on the start lists released today are expected to compete at the Pre Classic,” Pre Classic spokesperson Jeff Oliver wrote in an email to

Furthermore, it’s not as if Mu’s name just showed up on the start list. Mu has competed in just three meets in 2023, none of them Diamond Leagues, meaning she did not qualify for the Diamond League final. The only way she could have been granted a lane is by wild card — the US, as host country, gets one bonus entry in every event, determined by the meet director. If Mu was not going to take her spot, Prefontaine meet directors Michael Reilly and John Capriotti would have found another American to use the wild card rather than waste it on Mu.

All of this suddenly makes the women’s 800 one of the most compelling events of the meet. The last two Mu-Hodgkinson-Moraa matchups — the 2022 and 2023 world finals — were both fantastic races. Now we get to see how Mu will respond to her third-place finish in Budapest — the first 800-meter defeat of her professional career. And American fans will get to see Mu once more this season in just the third Diamond League appearance of her life. The first two went pretty well: in her DL debut at the 2021 Pre Classic, Mu set an American record of 1:55.04. In DL #2 in Rome last year, Mu won in 1:57.01, more than two seconds up on Moraa.

How will she fare in #3? If all goes to plan, we won’t have to wait long to find out.

Discussion: *Eugene Diamond League Entries Jakob Double, Athing Mu is Running?

*Did Nikki just get Shunned?

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