How the U.S. Chooses Its Olympic Track and Field Team

How is the U.S. Olympic track and field team selected — and how can fans watch the Trials? We’ve got all the answers.

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Making the U.S. Olympic track and field team is considered the pinnacle of achievement in the sport. Each country has its own way of choosing its athletes — and the way in which Team USA is selected is among the most exciting to watch.

U.S.A. Track & Field (USATF), the governing body of the sport, sets the athlete selection policies for the U.S. team, following the requirements and standards of World Athletics, the international governing organization of track and field.

The 2021 U.S.A. Track & Field Olympic Trials take place from June 18–27, at the recently renovated Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. That’s where the country’s best runners, jumpers, and throwers will compete head-to-head to make those Olympic dreams come true and move on to the Tokyo Games, scheduled for July 23–August 8.

Wondering how it all happens? Read on for all you need to know to follow the action and understand how the athletes earn the opportunity to represent the United States at the Olympics.

Who gets to compete at the Olympic Trials?

The athletes who have achieved a qualifying time between January 1, 2019 and June 13, 2021 at a sanctioned USATF race earn a chance to compete at the Olympic Trials. If space remains (an insufficient number of competitors have qualified for an event), officials may allow runners who did not get their qualifier to compete, based on the rank of fastest times until the field is filled.

As qualified athletes start entering the Trials, their names will appear on a “status of entries” list. Then the competitors are required to declare whether they will race the events they entered or scratch them. The declaration period is June 8–14.

If you want a peek at who has qualified, TrackTimes is keeping an updated list for each event.


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