U.S. Olympic Trials: Clayton Murphy leads men's 800m contingent, Donavan Brazier shockingly fails to make team

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·Yahoo Sports Columnist
·3 min read
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Heading into the U.S.A. Track & Field Olympic Trials, there were many events where it was easy to see five or more athletes making it to the top three and representing America in Tokyo starting next month, but there were a few berths that seemed pretty assured: Sha'Carri Richardson in the women's 100 meters, Valarie Allman in the women's discus, Ryan Crouser in men's shot put, Vashti Cunningham in women's high jump, and Donavan Brazier in the men's 800.

Over the opening nights of the meet, Richardson, Allman, Crouser and Cunningham did their respective jobs, winning their event and earning Olympic berths. But on Monday night, in the most stunning finish of the Trials thus far, a pained-looking Brazier finished last in the 800m final.

The reigning world champion and American record holder, Brazier was in fifth place with about 250 meters left in the race, with University of Southern California's Isaiah Jewett, who won the NCAA title just 10 days ago, pushing the pace. Coming off the final turn, Brazier appeared uncomfortable and just faded, coming in eighth in the eight-man race.

Clayton Murphy, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, passed Jewett with a kick down the home stretch for the win and a world-leading 1:43.17; Jewett ran 1:43.85, and Bryce Hoppel, who was fourth at Worlds in 2019, was third in 1:44.14.

Brazier told media he was "definitely not" 100 percent healthy heading into the race, but "there's things that champions overcome. The things that were bugging me were things I should be able to push through. I'm sad. I'm very sad. There were just seven people that were better than me today," Brazier said.

While he is entered in the men's 1500m at the Trials, with the first round on Thursday, he "probably" won't run the event.

Also on the track Monday, one of the most consistent American women in the sport for well over a decade, Jenny Simpson, finished tenth in the 1500m. It will be the first time since 2005 that Simpson will not be part of a U.S. team at the Olympics or World Championships.

But Elle Purrier St. Pierre, who ran a meet record and personal best 3:58.03, Cory McGee and Heather MacLean, who also ran the fastest they've ever run (4:00.67 and 4:02.09, respectively), will be running for the United States in Japan. All three are first-time Olympians.

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In the women's 5000m, a tremendous final lap led to top-three finishes for Elise Cranny (15:27.81), Karissa Schweizer (15:28.11) and Rachel Schneider (15:29.56). They are also all first-time Olympians.

The best U.S. men's pole vault competition ever — five were over 19-feet — saw Chris Nilsen break Sam Kendricks' six-year streak of national championships. Nilsen cleared 5.90 meters (19 feet, 4.25 inches) to 5.85m (19-2.25) for Kendricks. KC Lightfoot, who left Baylor earlier this year to turn pro after winning the NCAA indoor national title, also cleared 5.85m for the third ticket to Tokyo.

Will Claye, the favorite in men's triple jump, won the event on his sixth and final jump, posting 17.21m (56-5.75) to beat out Donald Scott (17.18m, 56-4.5) for the win. Claye and Scott will be joined by Chris Benard (17.01m, 55-9.75).

In men's javelin, the top three finishers were Curtis Thompson (82.78m, 271-7), Michael Shuey (79.24m, 260-0) and North Dakota phys ed teacher Riley Dolezal (77.07m, 252-10). However, none of those men have met the Olympic automatic qualifying standard of 85.00m, so they will have to wait until the end of the month to see if they will be allowed to compete based on their current world ranking points.

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