20-Year-Old Cole Hocker Defeats Olympic Champion and Becomes the Youngest American 1500m Champion Ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2021

20-year-old, Cole Hocker beat reigning Olympic champion, Matthew Centrowitz in the 1500m at the US Olympics track and field trials ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2021. In the process, Hocker became the American to win the 1500m race in 110 years.

It was a really close battle between Hocker and Centrowitz. At the start of the race, it was a conservative start as Centrowitz was behind and Hocker even further back. As the laps kicked in, Centrowitz made gains and by the end of lap 3, he was leading the field.

Matthew Centrowitz and Cole Hocker
Cole Hocker and Matthew Centrowitz. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

And at the start of the final lap, Hocker was considerably behind the leader, Centrowitz. But in the last 150 meters, Hocker started his engines and from 5th he ran past other competitors to run just behind Centrowitz. In the end, Hocker was shoulder to shoulder with the Olympic champion and ran as fast as he could to beat Centrowitz in what was a photo finish. Hocker won with a timing of 3:35.28 and was just 0.06 seconds ahead of Centrowitz.

"Crazy, crazy race. One of the most exciting races I've ever been part of. I didn't know what to expect, fast or slow, so I had different race plans. They all involved me being at the front. Instead of trying to save something a little extra for the last 50, I just tried to punch it, and sure enough, Cole had another gear that I didn't have," Centrowitz on his race.

Has Cole Hocker qualified for Tokyo Olympics 2021?

Both Centrowitz and Hocker were well within the Olympic time that won Centrowitz the gold. But by becoming the youngest American 1500m champion, Hocker isn't assured of an Olympic berth yet. His timing of 3:35.28 was 0.28 seconds short of the Olympic qualification time. However, Hocker's high ranking points almost assure him to fly to Tokyo for the Olympics.

"I think my world rank right now is pretty good to lock me in. What I was told that if I placed top 3 at Trials, let alone win in it, that would be enough to secure my world ranking within the top 45. Which I think is the number equivalent to that standard," Hocker said.

Both the Americans are still considerably behind the reigning World champion, Timothy Cheruiyot. Cheruiyot's 2019 time was 3:29.26. It looks highly unlikely that Centrowitz will successfully defend his Rio Olympics gold. However, Hocker is still young and could develop to challenge the other competitors in the future.

Read more: Sydney McLaughlin Smashes the 400m Hurdles World Record Ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2021

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