U.S. middle-distance runner Athing Mu will be the first to admit that while competing in her Olympic debut, a gold medal wasn’t always on her mind. But after becoming the first American woman to win Olympic gold in the women’s 800 meters since Madeline Manning accomplished the same feat in 1968, it’s likely the Trenton, N.J., native will never question her capabilities again.
Sports Illustrated and Olympics.com report that aside from becoming an Olympic champion on Tuesday in Tokyo, Mu also separated from the rest of the pack by setting a national record of 1:55.21.
“It’s awesome. I feel like I’ve just accomplished one of my goals. I just wanted to be a medalist,” Mu told reporters after her win. “I wasn’t really putting gold on that, but as it got closer to the final today, I was like, ‘Yeah, we want gold.’”
From Sports Illustrated:
Mu has risen to the top of the 800 meters with one of the best combinations of distance runner strength and sprinter speed. Mu put together one of the best NCAA indoor and outdoor campaigns with collegiate records in the 400 meters (49.57), 800 meters (1:57.73) and 4x400 meter relay as a freshman for Texas A&M. She won the NCAA outdoor title in the 400 meters before opting to turn professional and sign a lucrative deal with Nike before the Olympic Trials.
Mu is set to become the future of the sport, and at 19 years old, has already solidified her standing as one of the best middle-distance runners in the United States.
“It’s an accomplishment that I wanted off my list,” she said. “I am just happy, blessed, and excited to be here and took care of this experience as well as I could.”