Athing Mu, the 21-year-old 800-meter sensation, will not be competing in the Prefontaine Classic on May 25 due to lingering soreness in her left hamstring. Her coach, Bobby Kersee, emphasized the importance of caution to ensure Mu’s full readiness for the Olympic Trials.

Cautious Approach to Competition

In the second year of their coaching partnership, Kersee has witnessed significant progress in Mu’s performance. However, they have decided to delay her competitive return until she is fully fit. Kersee shared with Runner’s World that risking her participation now isn’t worth it, given the upcoming high-stakes events.

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“She’s a veteran, if she’s healthy, she can make the team,” Kersee stated. “I have to do the math that’s going to put her on the team, and so whatever that math is between now and the 21st, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

Mu was initially scheduled to start her season at the Oxy Invitational in early May and then the Los Angeles Grand Prix on May 18, but she withdrew from both events to protect her hamstring.

Star-Studded Race Without Mu

Despite Mu’s absence, the Prefontaine Classic remains a highlight, featuring six of the eight women from last year’s world championships final, including gold medalist Mary Moraa and silver medalist Keely Hodgkinson. This lineup promises an early preview of Olympic competition.

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Future Prospects and Olympic Preparation

Mu and Kersee make all competition decisions collaboratively, prioritizing her health for the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on June 21. Kersee is confident that Mu’s training will resume normally soon.


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 Kersee also manages other elite athletes, including Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Kendra Harrison, with a similar cautious approach. Harrison, recovering from a tight back, will skip the Prefontaine Classic’s 100-meter hurdles after her recent victory over world record-holder Tobi Amusan in Atlanta.

Training and Performance Insights

Mu’s season last year was challenging, as she transitioned to Kersee’s training group and nearly won the 1500 meters at the U.S. championships. Despite initial struggles, Mu secured a bronze medal in Budapest and an American record at the Diamond League final in Eugene, running 1:54.97.

Kersee likened Mu to a race car driver, emphasizing the importance of tailored training and clear communication. Their strengthened understanding and strategic training paid off significantly at the Diamond League final.

Outlook for McLaughlin-Levrone and Mu

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, another standout coached by Kersee, will focus on the 400-meter hurdles for the 2024 Olympics. Despite not defending her world title last year due to a knee issue, McLaughlin-Levrone is fine-tuning her technique in upcoming meets.

Embed from Getty Images Kersee believes both McLaughlin-Levrone and Mu have the potential for multiple medals at the Paris Olympics. He anticipates Mu’s inclusion in the 4×400-meter relay pool, leveraging her world-class speed and versatility.

With careful management and strategic planning, Kersee aims to ensure his athletes peak at the right time, minimizing risks and maximizing their Olympic potential.