After missing the 2020 edition due to the worldwide pandemic, the NCAA Championships was once again back in 2021. Held at the recently remodelled and gorgeous Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, which will also be the venue for the US Olympics trials later this month and next year’s world championships, the best college athletes from the main US programs were brought together to compete in all of Track and Field’s disciplines.
Naturally US born athletes dominated the proceedings, but athletes from every corner of the world took part.
The Europeans were, as usual, a force to be reckoned with in the field events. Norway’s Marie Therese Obst ruled the women’s javelin. She had the three longest throws of the competition and won by almost two meters. Obst came in as the competition favourite, but she had to overcome both years of struggling with injuries as well as a fierce challenge from another European, the French Alizee Minard, who improved her personal best by about two and a half meters to 57.91. Vanja Spaic from Bosnia finished 4th with a new personal best of 55.06.
Lisa Gunnarsson from Sweden won the women’s Pole Vault. She also won the Indoor title in March. In difficult conditions she won with good clearance at 4.40. Gunnarsson cleared with plenty of room to the bar on her first attempt and was assured the title as none of her competitors came particularly close of making 4.40. She is trained by Mondo Duplantis’ dad, Greg Duplantis, at LSU.
Tara Simpson Sullivan from Great Britain finished 4th in the women’s Hammer Throw with 68.78. She beat the Norwegian, Beatrice Nedberge Llano, as Sullivan’s 2nd best throw was one centimeter longer than Llano’s. Llano’s 68.78 was a new personal best.
The Europeans also did well in some track events with as an example Spain’s Carmela Cardama Baez’, winning the women’s 10 000 in a time of 32:16.13.
Karel Tilga upheld Estonia’s proud traditions in the Decathlon. Scoring 8261, he was almost 150 points ahead of the second place finisher, Ayden Owens from Puerto Rico.
As usual, there was plenty of eye-catching performance. Cole Hocker took down the long-time leader Yared Nuguse in the 1500. With a final 800 of sub-1:49, a final lap of about 52.3 and a last 200 in a scintillating 25.9, it is fair to say that Hocker would be a major threat in any slowly run championship race.
Athing Mu who recently turned 19, bettered her own collegiate record winning the 400 in 49.57. Less than 90 minutes later she put down a 48.85 split to give her Texas A&M a come-from-behind victory. The Aggies winning time of 3:22.34 was another collegiate record in the 4×400 outdoors.
Considering that Mu is a freshman who set a collegiate indoor record in the 800 this winter, her 2021 campaign must surely go down as one of the greatest ever. Athing Mu is likely to compete in the 800 during the US Trials.
We are looking forward to some mouthwatering clashes during the US Olympic Trials which will start on 18 June and finish on 27 June at the spectacularly remodelled Hayward Field.