Who should be the male and female track & field athlete of Tokyo 2020 Olympics?
Who should be the male and female track & field athlete of Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

The end of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics track and field has arrived and left me with euphoria from seeing some great performances I was not mentally prepared for. This Olympics had performances for the ages, some we may never see again in our lifetime.

I remember some time ago an announcer making a similar statement about Usain Bolt. Well, we can say the same thing about certain athletes who took part in the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympics. The way I choose to go is to decide who are the track and field male athlete and female athlete of the Olympics.

I go with the male first not because of chauvinism but because of the simplicity in deciding the winner. Without a doubt, it is Karsten Warholm. His time of 45.94 shattered the world record he set prior to the Olympics. Most pundits expected this record to be broken but very few, if any, expected this mind-boggling time of 45.94. I was stunned and, after the race, search for friends to discuss this earth-shattering time. Honourable mention should go to Rai Benjamin for his second-place finish of 46.17. If this were the record time instead of the 45.94, we would have all been similarly awed.

Now that the male athlete is out of the way, I go to the more difficult task of selecting the meet’s female track and field athlete. Four standouts come to mind. They are Yulimar Rojas, Sydney McLaughlin, Sifan Hassan and Elaine Thompson-Herah. It is extremely difficult to select the winner from this group. The charismatic Yulimar Rojas got a triple jump world record of 15.67m. Unlike the others who have challengers who can beat them on any given day, Rojas seemed like only she can beat herself. When Rojas is jumping, all eyes are focused on her, expecting something spectacular.
Setting the triple jump world at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was no surprise to many. Very rarely does one have high expectations for a field event world record at the Olympics.

Sydney McLaughlin ran a time of 51.46 over the 400m hurdles for Tokyo 2020 victory. This time is more than half of a second faster than her previous world record of 51.90. Breaking the world record by such a huge margin is unusual and very hard to do.
McLaughlin and Warholm have carried the 400m hurdles to new boundaries no one I know expected. For those who knew, I say they have the ability to tell the future.

Sifan Hassan has done something we have never seen done before at this level of competition. She ran the 1500m, 5000m and 10000m, winning two gold and one bronze. She covered several distances in such a short space of time and against the best of the world.

She took on a challenge we may or may not see again in our lifetime. Will anyone be able to replicate this result in our lifetime? That’s best to leave to time.

Next is Elaine Thompson-Herah. Her equaling of the Olympic record in and 100m of 10.61 and 21.53 over the 200m say a lot. Seven women have won the Olympics sprint double. It was done at every Olympics from 1948 to 1960. There was a twelve-year gap to 1972 and a sixteen where Florence Griffith-Joyner did it in 1988.

There was a 28 years drought until 2016. Elaine did what was never done before by winning the double twice (2016 and 2020 Olympics). This is another feat we may never see happening soon.

In going over the women performances, each in another Olympics could easily be named the performer of the meet. Yulimar Royas leap of 15.67 and Sydney McLaughlin 51.46 world record performances are very difficult to bypass. Sifan Hassan 1500m, 5000m and 10000m success took a lot of guts and belief. Elaine Thompson-Herah Olympic record in the 100m and 21.53 in the 200m is a sprinter’s fan dream. Doing the sprint double twice should put her in the conversation of the greatest sprinters of all time. No woman could say they had four Olympics gold individual medals in the sprints.

In taking out my personal feelings and trying to be objective as I can be, I choose Sifan Hassan. Her decision to do that triple was crazy. Her success in medaling in all three makes it hard to go against her. A world record is hard to go against, and a double Olympic winner is also tough. It is tough to go against Elaine when I have zero belief in the women 100m world record of 10.49.

Nevertheless, I choose objectivity over my personal feeling. This is why I am choosing Sifan Hassan as the winner. I would not fault anyone for choosing Yulimar, Sydney or Elaine. Some may say Elaine’s double-double, and I cannot fault them, but as a brethren pointed out to me, it’s about Tokyo 2020 performance and not performances over time.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author (Robert Taylor) and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, trackalerts.com.



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