Olympics Preview – LSU Track & FIeld
Baton Rouge, La. – The LSU track and field program will have 12 representatives at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games. The track and field action starts on July 30 and runs through August 8.
The full list of athletes representing their countries at the Tokyo Games are as follows: Mondo Duplantis (Sweden), JuVaughn Harrison (USA), Michael Cherry (USA), Vernon Norwood (USA), Aleia Hobbs (USA), Richard Thompson (Trinidad & Tobago), Kelly-Ann Baptiste (Trinidad & Tobago), Semoy Hackett (Trinidad & Tobago), Akanni Hislop (Trinidad & Tobago), Damion Thomas (Jamaica), Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Great Britain) and Favour Ofili (Nigeria).
Harrison will be the first LSU athlete in action as he has a busy four days of competition ahead of him. He does high jump qualifying at 7:15 p.m. CT Thursday night (July 29) before long jump qualifying happens on Saturday morning (July 30) at 5:10 a.m. CT. The men’s high jump final will take place at 5:10 a.m. CT on Sunday morning (July 31) and the long jump finals are a mere 15 hours later at 8:20 p.m. CT Sunday evening. Harrison enters the Olympics as a medal favorite in both events, and to be honest, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to come away with two golds after all we’ve seen him accomplish this year. His season best long jump of 27’ 9.50” (8.47 meters) that he registered at the U.S. Olympic Trials ranks No. 2 in the world this year, and his season best high jump of 7’ 8.75” (2.36 meters) that he registered at the SEC Outdoor Championships ranks No. 3 in the world.
Duplantis, the heavy favorite for gold in the men’s pole vault, will be in action on Friday (7:40 p.m. CT/qualifying/ July 30) and Tuesday (5:20 a.m. CT/finals/August 3). Duplantis, the world record holder in the event, has won 27 of his last 28 competitions. It will be the Olympic debut for Duplantis and he will represent Sweden at the Olympics. He twice bettered the established world record of 6.16 meters twice in consecutive weeks in February of 2020 with clearances of 6.17 meters in Torun, Poland, and 6.18 meters (20’ 3.25”) in Glasgow, UK. In September of 2020 he cleared the highest bar ever in outdoor world history with a clearance of 6.15 meters (20’ 2”). He’s gone as high as 6.10 meters this year, and has cleared a 6.00 meter bar or high in eight competitions.
**Editor’s Note** – The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced on July 28, 2021, that Favour Ofili would not be allowed to compete at the Olympics. She was deemed ineligible to compete because she did not meet the testing requirements defined by the AIU. Ofili was one of 10 Nigerian athletes affected by this ruling.
Favour Ofili will be one of the youngest competitors in track and field at the Tokyo Olympics. Ofili, who is set to turn 19 this December, will represent Nigeria in the 200 meters and on their 4×100 meter relay team. In the 200 meters, she owns a personal best of 22.30, which ranks as the 15th fastest in the world this year. Ofili will run round one of the 200 meters on Sunday evening (August 1) at 8:30 p.m. CT before the semifinals are contested at 5:25 a.m. CT on Monday morning (August 2). The finals are scheduled for Tuesday evening (August 3) at 7:50 a.m. CT.
Michael Cherry and Vernon Norwood will represent Team USA in the quarter mile. Cherry will run the individual 400 meters beginning on Saturday night at 8:45 p.m. CT in the first round. The second round of the 400 meters will be contested at 6:05 a.m. CT on Sunday morning, and if he makes the finals those will be ran on Thursday at 7 a.m. CT. Both Cherry and Norwood will factor into the 4×400 meter relay and 4×400 meter mixed relay at the Olympics but those lineups are not announced until the day of and we will have to wait and see who gets the call for those races. Cherry’s 44.35 ranks as the fourth fastest in the world this year and he will be in prime contention for a medal performance individually.
Kelly-Ann Baptiste will be representing Trinidad & Tobago for the fifth time in her career at the Tokyo Olympics; she served as the country’s flag bearer at Opening Ceremonies. Baptiste is scheduled to compete in the first round of the 100 meters on Thursday at 10:15 p.m. CT. The other three LSU track and field athletes – Richard Thompson, Semoy Hackett, Akanni Hislop – are all members of the 4×100 meter relay pool for T&T. Thompson, who is running at his fourth Olympics, is a 2008 gold medalist in the 4×100 meter relay. The 4×100 meter relays will be contested on Thursday (prelims/August 5) and Friday (finals/August 6).
Damion Thomas will run for Jamaica at his first ever Olympics after qualifying with a blistering personal best of 13.11 seconds in the 110 meter hurdles in late June at the Jamaican Trials to place second and earn his spot on the national team. The time of 13.11 puts him in the medal discussion as he enters the meet with as the sixth fastest competitor in the field. Round one of the 110 meter hurdles is on Tuesday morning (August 3) at 5:10 a.m. CT. The semifinals will take place Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. CT, and the finals are scheduled for Wednesday evening (August 4) at 9:55 p.m. CT.
Mitchell-Blake will lace up the spikes for Great Britain for the second time in his career at the Olympics. Mitchell-Blake was a semifinalist in the 200 meters at the Rio Olympics and this year he will compete in the 200 meters individually and on the 4×100 meter relay squad. The opening round of the men’s 200 meters will start on Monday evening (August 2) at 9:05 p.m. CT before the semifinals are contested Tuesday morning (August 3) at 6:50 a.m. CT. Finals will be run on Wednesday (August 4) at 7:55 a.m. CT.
Aleia Hobbs will be competing for Team USA in the 4×100 meter relay as she has the third fastest time in the country this year. Prelims will start Wednesday (August 4) at 8 p.m. CT and finals will be contested on Friday (August 6) at 8:30 a.m. CT.
Friday (July 30)
JuVaughn Harrison – High Jump (Qualifying) – **Thursday 7:15 p.m. CT
Kelly-Ann Baptiste – 100 Meters (Round 1) – **Thursday 10:15 p.m. CT
Saturday (July 31)
Mondo Duplantis – Pole Vault (Qualifying) – **Friday 7:40 p.m. CT
JuVaughn Harrison – Long Jump (Qualifying) – 5:10 a.m. CT
Vernon Norwood – Maybe 4x400m MIXED Relay (FINAL) – *possible participant – 7:35 a.m. CT
Sunday (August 1)
Michael Cherry – 400m (Round 1) – **Saturday 8:45 p.m. CT
JuVaughn Harrison – High Jump (FINAL) – 5:10 a.m. CT
Monday (August 2)
JuVaughn Harrison – Long Jump (FINAL) – **Sunday 8:20 p.m. CT
Michael Cherry – 400m (Semis) – 6:05 a.m. CT
Tuesday (August 3)
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – 200m (Round 1/Semis) – **Monday 9:05 p.m. CT/Tuesday 6:50 a.m. CT
Damion Thomas – 110m Hurdles (Round 1) – 5:10 a.m. CT
Mondo Duplantis – Pole Vault (FINALS) – 5:20 a.m. CT
Wednesday (August 4)
Damion Thomas – 110m Hurdles (Semis) – **Tuesday 9 p.m. CT
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – 200m (FINALS) – 7:55 a.m. CT
Thursday (August 5)
Women’s 4x100m Relay (Round 1) – **Wednesday 8 p.m. CT
- Aleia Hobbs – USA
- Kelly-Ann Baptiste – Trinidad & Tobago
- Semoy Hackett – Trinidad & Tobago
Men’s 4x100m Relay (Round 1) – **Wednesday 9:30 p.m. CT
- Richard Thompson – Trinidad & Tobago
- Akanni Hislop – Trinidad & Tobago
- Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake – Great Britain
Damion Thomas – 110m Hurdles (FINALS) – **Wednesday 9:55 p.m. CT
Michael Cherry – 400 Meters (FINALS) – 7 a.m. CT
Friday (August 6)
Men’s 4x400m Relay (Round 1) – 6:25 a.m. CT
Women’s 4x100m Relay (FINALS) – 8:30 a.m. CT
Men’s 4x100m Relay (FINALS) – 8:50 a.m. CT
Saturday (August 7)
Men’s 4x400m Relay (FINAL) – 7:50 a.m. CT