She doesn’t mind being called a prodigy. In fact, she embraces it.
“Being a prodigy is something I’ve always wanted to be,” said the 19-year-old US middle-distance star, who has been lighting up the track with a flurry of records. “It’s awesome to be called that.”
That goal is in sight in Tokyo, where she is among the favourites in the 800m and vying to become the first US woman to win gold at the distance in more than 50 years.
“I was made for this,” she said.
Mu (pronounced “Mo”) won the 800m at the US Trials in 1:56.07, the second-fastest time ever for a US woman and the fastest time in the world this year.
Mu burst on to the scene when she was just 16, setting a senior US indoor 600m record of 1:23.57. The athlete from Trenton, New Jersey, has gone on to break a string of high school, collegiate and age-group records from the 400m to the 800m. She was silver medallist in the 800m at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
This year, as a freshman at Texas A&M, Mu broke six collegiate records, including the indoor 600m and 800m and outdoor 400m and 800m marks. She also set a world U20 indoor 800m record of 1:58.40 in February and followed it outdoors with five North American U20 records over 400m and 800m.
Mu is the second youngest of seven siblings whose parents moved to the US from Sudan 20 years ago. She dreams of emulating Madeline Mims, who won the 800m at the 1968 Mexico City Games and remains the only US champion in the event.
“Whenever someone asks, ‘Who do you want to be?’ I say I want to be a professional athlete and I want to be an Olympian,” Mu said. “It’s now a reality. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’ve worked for this.”
Mu will face a field in Tokyo that is loaded with top contenders, including four other women who have run sub-1:57 times this year.
Rose Mary Almanza of Cuba, Jamaica’s Natoya Goule,Ethiopia’s Werkwuha Getachew and Laura Muir who broke the Scottish 800m record, winning the Diamond League meet in Monaco in 1:56.73. Dont however bother to look out for embattled South Africa’s Caster Samenya as she will not be featuring here. Will Mu achieve her Olympic dream?
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