How to Watch Tokyo Olympics Track & Field: TV & Live Streaming Schedule

Tokyo Olympics
NBC Olympics
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After being postponed due to COVID, the highly anticipated 2020 Tokyo Olympics will take place in Tokyo, Japan, Friday, July 23 – Sunday, August 8, 2021.

As always, NBC who is home to the Olympics will provide coverage, which can be accessed on local NBC stations as well as streamed on NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports, and Peacock.

When is Track & Field scheduled at Tokyo Olympics 2020?

Track & Field is scheduled for Thursday, July 29 – Saturday, August 7.

Olympic Track & Field Schedule & Where to Watch

Watch Olympic Track & Field on local NBC channels, USA, NBC Sports and stream on NBC Olympics and Peacock. Find the Track & Field  Olympics schedule below or click here for the full Olympic schedule. (Last updated: 7/23/21)

Thursday, July 29

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s 3000m Steeplechase Round 1
• Men’s High Jump Qualifying Round
• Men’s Discus Throw Qualifying Round
• Women’s 800m Round 1
• Men’s 400m Hurdles Round 1
• Women’s 100m Round 1
Starts at 8pm EDT

Full July 29 Olympic schedule

Friday, July 30

Venues: Olympic Stadium (Peacock)
• Women’s 5000m Round 1
• Women’s Triple Jump Qualifying Round
• Women’s Shot Put Qualifying Round
• Mixed 4 x 400m Relay Round 1
• Men’s 10,000m Final
Starts at 6am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Women’s 400m Hurdles Round 1
• Women’s Discus Throw Qualifying Round
• Men’s Pole Vault Qualifying Round
• Men’s 800m Round 1
• Women’s 100m Hurdles Qualifying Round
• Men’s 100m Preliminary Round
Starts at 8pm EDT

Full July 30 Olympic schedule

Saturday, July 31

Venues: Olympic Stadium (Peacock)
• Men’s 10,000m Victory Ceremony
• Men’s Long Jump Qualifying Round
• Women’s 100m Semifinals
• Men’s 100m Round 1
• Men’s Discus Throw Final
• Women’s 800m Semifinals
• Mixed 4 x 400m Relay Final
• Women’s 100m Final
Starts at 6am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Women’s Hammer Throw Qualifying Round
• Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Round 1
• Women’s Long Jump Qualifying Round
• Men’s Discus Throw Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Shot Put Final
• Men’s 400m Round 1
• Mixed 4 x 400m Relay Victory Ceremony
Starts at 8:10pm EDT

Full July 31 Olympic schedule

Sunday, August 1

Venues: Olympic Stadium (Peacock)
• Women’s 100m Victory Ceremony
• Men’s High Jump Final
• Men’s 100m Semifinals
• Women’s 100m Hurdles Semifinals
• Women’s Shot Put Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Triple Jump Final
• Men’s 800m Semifinals
• Men’s 400m Hurdles Semifinals
• Men’s High Jump Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 100m Final
Starts at 6am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s Hammer Throw Qualifying Round
• Women’s 1500m Round 1
• Women’s Triple Jump Victory Ceremony
• Men’s Long Jump Final
• Women’s 200m Round 1
• Women’s 100m Hurdles Final
Starts at 8pm EDT

Full August 1 Olympic schedule

Monday, August 2

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s 100m Victory Ceremony
• Men’s Long Jump Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Pole Vault Qualifying Round
• Women’s 200m Semifinals
• Women’s 100m Hurdles Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Discus Throw Final
• Men’s 400m Semifinals
• Women’s 400m Hurdles Semifinals
• Men’s 3000m Steeplechase Final
• Women’s 5000m Final
Starts at 6am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s Triple Jump Qualifying Round
• Men’s 1500m Round 1
• Women’s Javelin Throw Qualifying Round
• Women’s 400m Round 1
• Women’s Discus Throw Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 3000m Steeplechase Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Long Jump Final
• Men’s 200m Round 1
• Men’s 400m Hurdles Final
• Women’s 5000m Victory Ceremony
Starts at 8pm EDT

Full August 2 Olympic schedule

Tuesday, August 3

Venues: Olympic Stadium (Peacock)
• Women’s Long Jump Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 110m Hurdles Round 1
• Men’s Shot Put Qualifying Round
• Men’s Pole Vault Final
• Men’s 400m Hurdles Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 5000m Round 1
• Women’s Hammer Throw Final
• Men’s 200m Semifinals
• Women’s 800m Final
• Women’s 200m Final
Starts at 6am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s Decathlon 100m
• Men’s Javelin Throw Qualifying Round
• Women’s Heptathlon 100m Hurdles
• Men’s Decathlon Long Jump
• Men’s Pole Vault Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Heptathlon High Jump
• Women’s Hammer Throw Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 800m Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 110m Hurdles Semifinals
• Women’s 400m Hurdles Final
• Men’s Decathlon Shot Put
• Women’s 400m Hurdles Victory Ceremony
Starts at 8pm EDT

Full August 3 Olympic schedule

Wednesday, August 4

Venues: Olympic Stadium (Peacock)
• Men’s Decathlon High Jump
• Women’s 1500m Semifinals
• Women’s Heptathlon Shot Put
• Women’s 400m Semifinals
• Women’s 200m Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Final
• Men’s Hammer Throw Final
• Women’s Heptathlon 200m
• Women’s 3000m Steeplechase Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 800m Final
• Men’s Decathlon 400m
• Men’s 200m Final
Starts at 5:30am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s Decathlon 110m Hurdles
• Women’s High Jump Qualifying Round
• Men’s Hammer Throw Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Heptathlon Long Jump
• Men’s Decathlon Discus Throw
• Women’s 4 x 100m Relay Round 1
• Men’s 800m Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 200m Victory Ceremony
• Men’s Triple Jump Final
• Men’s Shot Put Final
• Men’s 4 x 100m Relay Round 1
• Men’s 110m Hurdles Final
• Men’s Decathlon Pole Vault
• Women’s Heptathlon Javelin Throw
Starts at 8pm EDT

Full August 4 Olympic schedule

Thursday, August 5

Venues: Olympic Stadium (Peacock)
• Men’s 20km Race Walk Final
• Men’s 20km Race Walk Venue Ceremony
Starts at 3:30am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s Shot Put Victory Ceremony
• Men’s Triple Jump Victory Ceremony
• Men’s Decathlon Javelin Throw
• Women’s Pole Vault Final
• Women’s 4 x 400m Relay Round 1
• Men’s 1500m Semifinals
• Men’s 110m Hurdles Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 400m Final
• Women’s Heptathlon 800m
• Men’s Decathlon 1500m
Starts at 6am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s 50km Race Walk Final
• Men’s 50km Race Walk Venue Ceremony
Starts at 4:30pm EDT

Full August 5 Olympic schedule

Friday, August 6

Venues: Olympic Stadium (Peacock)
• Women’s 20km Race Walk Final
• Women’s 20km Race Walk Venue Ceremony
Starts at 3:30am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s 20km Race Walk Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Pole Vault Victory Ceremony
• Women’s Heptathlon Victory Ceremony
• Men’s Decathlon Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 4 x 400m Relay Round 1
• Women’s Javelin Throw Final
• Men’s 5000m Final
• Men’s 400m Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 400m Final
• Women’s 1500m Final
• Men’s 5000m Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 400m Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 4 x 100m Relay Final
• Women’s 1500m Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 4 x 100m Relay Final
Starts at 6:50am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Women’s Marathon Final
• Women’s Marathon Venue Ceremony
Starts at 6pm EDT

Full August 6 Olympic schedule

Saturday, August 7

Venues: Olympic Stadium (Peacock)
• Men’s 50km Race Walk Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 20km Race Walk Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 4 x 100m Relay Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 4 x 100m Relay Victory Ceremony
• Women’s High Jump Final
Women’s 10,000m Final
• Men’s Javelin Throw Final
• Women’s Javelin Throw Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 1500m Final
• Women’s 10,000m Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 1500m Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 4 x 400m Relay Final
• Men’s Javelin Throw Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 4 x 400m Relay Final
• Women’s High Jump Victory Ceremony
• Women’s 4 x 400m Relay Victory Ceremony
• Men’s 4 x 400m Relay Victory Ceremony
Starts at 6am EDT

Venues: Olympic Stadium
• Men’s Marathon Final
• Men’s Marathon Venue Ceremony
Starts at 6pm EDT

Full August 7 Olympic schedule

Twenty-four minutes at Hayward: Track and field worlds take frenetic turn

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EUGENE, Oregon – It is often argued that track and field is too ponderous and sprawling, too slow and too inaccessible for a modern audience whose synapses have been fried and shrunk to a length so short that an entire NBA game can be reduced to a TikTok post featuring one dunk and one dime, and possibly a mascot eating popcorn or a celebrity drinking wine at courtside. That meets are too long and too confusing, with throwing here, and jumping there and running all around and how can anyone be expected to follow it all? Maybe there’s a sliver of truth in all of this. Tastes evolve.

Or just maybe you needed to be here Sunday night at the new Hayward Field on the Day Three of the 18th Track and Field World Championships, and the first in the United States. Maybe you needed to see U.S. athletes win nine medals in a single day, four of them gold, both championship records. Maybe you needed to see a 27-year-old American woman who still logs hours as a cashier at Chipotle, fling the hammer farther than any other woman in the world for a gold medal; or three big American men sweep the medals in the shot; or a tiny 35-year-old Jamaican woman win her seventh global 100-meter championship, establishing herself as maybe the best female track and field athlete in history. Maybe you needed to see a very messy false start, gutting a hometown star.

But there’s helpful news: Most of it happened in a frenetic window shorter than half an inning of a Major League baseball games. Think of it as Twenty-four Minutes at Hayward. (All times approximate, don’t @ me with your timestamps).

7:28 p.m.: A crystalline sky overhead, slowly darkening, temperatures dipping toward the low-70s as if Eugene had put climate change on hold for a night (two nights, actually, as Saturday was splendid as well). A breeze swirling around the new stadium, which was mostly full for the second consecutive night. U.S. pole vaulter Sandi Morris, 30, stands at the end of the runway, safely in possession of a silver medal to match the silvers she won the at the 2016 Olympics, and 2017 and ’19 Worlds, but needing a clearance at 16 feet, ¾ inches to pass teammate Katie Nageotte, the 2021 Olympic gold medalist, and move into first place.

It had already been a successful day for the U.S.: Early in the afternoon, Brooke Andersen, 27 had taken gold in the hammer throw and teammate Janee’ Kassanavoid had won bronze. (They followed DeAnna Price, who won the gold medal at the 2019 Worlds in Doha, Qatar). Both are of the generation of U.S. women’s throwers who were recruited into the sport not because they were big, but because they were explosive athletes, with deep backgrounds in multiple sports. “I played every sport except track and field,” said Kassanavoid. Andersen was a 135-pound soccer player who idolized Mia Hamm. “I didn’t lift a weight until college,” she said. Now she weighs 185lbs and has retained her quickness and agility in the circle. But the life of a thrower has obstacles: Not long ago, Andersen trained while working a total of 60 hours at GNC and Chipotle, and she still snags hours behind the counter at the latter. But she also recently signed a contract with Nike, nudging toward full professional status.

7:29 p.m.: Morris, whose second attempt had been agonizingly close, wasn’t close on the third, leaving Nageotte with gold. “I wanted the gold,” said Morris. “I didn’t do enough to earn it. But 4.90 [meters, the 16-3/4] is a high bar, and everything has to be perfect, and it wasn’t.”

Nageotte spent much of the year battling a post-Olympic emotional letdown that nearly dragged her into retirement. “After the Olympics, I never got a break,” she said. “I got a physical break, but I never got a mental break. It was five years of stress, trying to make the team and win a medal and I really didn’t come back around until the last two months.”

7:31 p.m.: In the shot put ring, no more than 50 feet from the pole vault landing pit, and adjacent to the backstretch of the orange running track, 33-year-old American Joe Kovacs, readied for the fifth of his six throws, chalk spread across his neck. Kovacs won the world title in 2015 and ’19, and had been engaged in a long battle with countryman Ryan Crouser, who has won the last two Olympic golds and last summer broke Randy Barnes’ (suspicious) 31-year-old world record. Kovacs, nearly as wide as tall, launches a throw of 22.89 meters [75 feet, 1 ¼ inches] to take the lead over Crouser by seven inches. “I expected that from Joe,” said Crouser, “because he has such a potential for big throws.”

Kovacs said: “I expected Ryan to come right back and throw far.” They are like domestic partners, finishing each other’s sentences.

7:32 p.m.: On the front straightaway, eight men warmed up for the final of the 110-meter hurdles. The plot was thus: Grant Holloway of the U.S. was favored to win gold in Tokyo, but staggered off the last of 10 hurdles and was second behind Hansle Parchment of Jamaica. They would meet again. Subplot: This would be the last hurdle race for Devon Allen of the U.S. who ran track and played football at Oregon, before trying to make the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster as a receiver and kick returner.

Suddenly Parchment lay on the track, stretching, and then stood and limped off. A narrative-shifting DNS (did not start).

The shot put competition was paused before Crouser’s fifth throw, to give the hurdles center stage. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Crouser stood alone on the infield in his red U.S. singlet and blue tights.

7:33 p.m.: The starter’s pistol crackled for the hurdles, and then crackled again. A false start. Crouser was called back into the shot ring, unexpectedly quickly. “It’s track, so you know things will go wrong,” said Crouser. “You just have to be prepared.” He was prepared. Crouser initiated rhythmic clapping and then tossed the shot – he makes it appear hollow – and it landed with a puff of pale brown dust, very near Kovacs’s mark.

7:34 p.m.: The meet announcer intones that the false start has been charged to lane three: Devon Allen. There was an audible gasp. Okay, school in session: False starts are assessed through an electronic system that measures how quickly an athlete applied pressure to pads on their starting blocks. If that pressure – the reaction time – is applied sooner than .100 seconds, it is a false start, on the theory that the athlete anticipated the gun, rather than reacting to it. This is an arbitrary number, but in theory with scientific underpinnings. Allen’s reaction time was .099 seconds, meaning that he was disqualified for reacting one one-thousandth of a second too quickly. (His reaction time in the semifinal was .101 seconds, safe by two one-thousandths of a second).

Allen wandered around, shocked. Twice he climbed over a fence to talk with start officials, to no avail. Other runners shuffled about, sympathetic but waiting to run. The scene was reminiscent of the men’s 100 meters at the 2003 Worlds, when Jon Drummond of the U.S. was disqualified for a false start (under different rules) and laid down on the track in protest before eventually leaving. Allen did not lay down on the track. “I know for a fact that I did not false start,” said Allen afterward. “I didn’t react until I heard the gun.”

7:35 p.m.: Crouser’s distance appeared on the small infield video board and is announced: 22.94 meters, three inches beyond Kovacs and into first place. It is a World Championship meet record.

Allen wanders some more, arms outstretched, palms up. Holloway is surprised but not shocked by Allen’s fate and the general state of chaos prevailing: “I’m on Devon’s side; I don’t think he false-started,” Holloway says. “But it’s athletics and, pardon my language, shit happens.”

7:37 p.m.: An official theatrically raises a red and black card at Allen, officially disqualifying him from the race. There are boos. There is murmuring. Shit happens. Allen walks off the track, under the grandstand and out of sight. The other hurdlers line up, only six of them. No Parchment, no Allen. Holloway, in lane four, will run with empty lanes on both sides. It’s a lousy look.

My take: On the one hand, it’s preposterous that Allen was allowed to run with a reaction time of .101 seconds and tossed for a reaction time of .099 seconds, and thus deprived of running in the most important race of his life (with Oregon fans similarly deprived, a buzzkill moment on an otherwise thrilling day). And he did not appear to move, whereas most false starts come with some visible backup. (A false start in the women’s 100-meter semifinals also looked very iffy). On the other hand, there has to be a false start rule of some kind. Older versions, in which a runner was disqualified for two false starts, led to long delays and runners throwing flyers indiscriminately. More to the point, there was no solution available in the moment. You can’t just give the batter four strikes on the spot because three is a bad rule (or because he’s popular). But it was a downer in the building.

7:39 p.m.: Holloway rolled to his second consecutive world title – around that Olympic silver – in 13.04 seconds. “Parchment goes down, Devon false started, which he didn’t, but it happened,” said Holloway. “You say to yourself, ‘Focus, just be the first one to the line, like any other race.’” Trey Cunningham of the U.S. took silver, a one-two U.S. finish. “Not my best race,” said Cunningham. “But it’s a shiny medal.”

7:43 p.m.: Kovacs’s last throw was short of Crouser’s mark. Crouser’s last throw – “I just swung for the fences,” he said – is a foul. The bronze medal goes to 27-year-old American Josh Awotunde, who recovered from a spring pectoral strain, spent time living with Crouser and under his wing, and threw an 11-inch personal best on his first throw. It was the first 1-2-3 shot put sweep in Worlds history and followed up the U.S. sweep in the men’s 100 meters Saturday night. There would be one more, not by Americans.

7:46 p.m.: Seven Americans wore flags and worked their way around the track, not together, but in synch, celebrating, posing. Morris and Nageotte on the first turn. Crouser, Kovacs and Awotunde on the backstretch. Holloway and Cunningham on the far turn. A couple firetrucks, a marching band and it could have been a parade. The track was cleared for one last event.

7:52 p.m.: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, 35 years old and five feet tall, ripped away from the blocks and bounded to a gold medal in the 100 meters in 10.67 seconds, a world championship record. She won Olympic 100-meter gold medals in 2008 and 2012 (along with a bronze in Rio in 2016 and a silver behind Elaine Thompson-Herah last year in Tokyo) and has won the 100 meters at five of the last seven worlds. She is the only woman to break 10.70 seconds five times (Thompson-Herah has done it four times; Flo-Jo did it three times). There is little doubt Fraser-Pryce is the best female sprinter in history and quite possibly the best in all events. It’s a worthy discussion.

“This is my favorite title, doing it at 35,” said Fraser-Pryce. “ Yes, I said 35. Age doesn’t change anything. If I’m healthy, I’m going to compete and I’m not going to stop until I don’t believe that.” Shericka Jackson followed Fraser-Pryce for silver and Thompson-Herah for bronze, a sweep to match the U.S. men 24 hours earlier. They too, each grabbed the familiar Jamaican flags. Fans began descending from their seats and spilled into the concourse. A breeze stiffened from the north. Seven more days remain.

Fred Kerley stakes his claim to Usain Bolt’s throne in Eugene

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EUGENE, Oregon – It is accepted in track and field, both in silence and aloud, that there will likely never be another Usain Bolt. There will never be an athlete with Bolt’s ethereal combination of speed, presence and joy. Never another with Bolt’s relentless seizure of moments and of history. Never another with his ability to hoist a niche (being kind here) sport, throw it across his shoulders – or clench it in his radiant smile like a pirate’s scabbard – and make it not just relevant, but viral. He ran faster than any human, more gleefully than should be allowed, and pulled an entire ecosystem along in his slipstream. He was a unicorn.

On the other hand, never is a long time. Track and field did not stop contesting meets or 100- and 200-meter races when Bolt left to start a family of children with weather-themed names. Bolt has been gone for half a decade; his last races were at the 2017 World Championships, and they were not pretty. Two years later, Christian Coleman of the U.S. took the world title, decisively, in 9.76 seconds. He was a short, explosive sprinter in mold of 2000 Olympic gold medalist Maurice Greene, and he was just 23 years old. There was much promise. But subsequently Coleman got sideways with the doping police (three whereabouts failures, meaning he did not test positive but missed too many tests), was suspended for two years, and missed the 2021 Olympics. (He is back, but keep reading).

The post-Bolt 100 meters was left adrift, missing the big man and not just his schtick, but his speed. Missing a logical successor. Italian Marcell Jacobs was the longshot winner of the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, and bless his Texas-born heart, Jacobs will never buy another bottle of wine in his country, but he was not the heir to Bolt’s greatness. He was a one-off, entertaining and perfect on the day when it mattered most, but perhaps never again. Track was left still searching – turning over rocks in the wood, to find only moss and mud.

Until now. Maybe. Not that it has discovered another Bolt, but perhaps another unicorn. (Hold the eyerolls and stay with me). Perhaps a worthy king, if not a worthy successor.

On Saturday night at the new Hayward Field, Day Two of the 18th World Track and Field Championships and the first in the United States, 27-year-old Fred Kerley – just three years ago one of the best 400-meter runners in the world, until improbably dropping down to the 100 meters last year (and winning Olympic silver) – won the 100-meter final in a time of 9.86 seconds. He was just .02 seconds in front of two other U.S. sprinters, silver medalist Trayvon Bromell and bronze medalist Marvin Bracy. It was the first 1-2-3 100-meter sweep at the worlds since 1991, when Americans Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell and Dennis Mitchell pulled off the sweep. The U.S. had also swept the medals at the first worlds in 1983, with Lewis, Calvin Smith and Emmit King.

In an interview on the track, broadcast to the near-capacity crowd, Kerley shouted, “We said we were gonna do it, and we did it. USA, baby.”

Kerley is big (6-foot-3 ½) like Bolt (6-foot-5). He is, for the moment, nearly unbeatable, like Bolt, although not really like Bolt yet. Kerley is fast, and while not as fast as Bolt’s best times, he seems poised to challenge Tyson Gay’s 13-year-old American record of 9.69 in a competition without exhausting rounds. At the very least, Kerley has earned the title of world’s fastest human; at the very most, he has the potential to earn much more. As for showmanship, that might take some time; as effusive as Bolt was, that is how taciturn Kerley is. That would not matter in some sports, but it matters in track and field, where TV ratings cannot thrive on performance alone. But stay tuned. There were signs that this, too, could change, right after the race. (And it is notable that Bolt’s manager, Ricky Simms, is also Kerley’s manager. “They communicate all the time,” says Simms. “Usain has really been a great mentor to Fred.”)

Kerley came into the race a heavy favorite. He has been the dominant 100-meter runner in the world since last year’s Olympics and ran the world’s best of 9.76 at the U.S. Championships in June. He matched that time in Friday night’s heats here.

He was less dominant in the final. Kerley broke from the blocks in lane four, stride with Bracey in three, and they ran nearly in lockstep for 90 meters before Kerley snatched a sliver of daylight and then leaned cautiously, chest forward, arms wide, like a man trying to savor a summer breeze on a warm evening. He had beaten Bracey narrowly, though clearly. But far out in lane eight, running blind, Bromell had left Coleman – back in the game after his suspension – behind and closed furiously to nearly catch Kerley at the line.

Kerley applied the brakes, came to a full stop in the middle of the turn and stared up at the giant video board, as if willing his name to appear first. It did. Kerley threw both hands into the air, and a meet worker draped his gold medal around his neck. And then Kerley snagged the medal from around his neck and alighted on a delirious victory lap, slapping hands with front-row spectators and waving his arms while the medal’s cloth lanyard dangled toward the ground. It seemed his lap was nearly in the 43-second range that he had once run, and the display was, dare we say, Bolt-esque.

“I was talking about that before that race,” said Kerley. “Thinking about, ‘What should I do?’ Then I decided I would do that. Man, in my position in life, where I come from, it’s a blessing every day to wake up and breathe. So I’m thankful for that. And I’m thankful for this gold medal.” Hold that thought.

Bracy’s silver was his first global medal; Bromell’s was his first since 2015, when he was third in the worlds in Beijing. He subsequently twice tore his Achilles tendon, potentially ending his career. On the track Saturday night, he cried openly. “Tears of joy,” he said. “First medal in seven years. So yeah, tears of joy.” As to racing in lane eight, Bromell said, “Not to throw shade, but I wish I had been next to those guys. I might have timed my lean a little differently.” That sounded like shade. “Nah,” said Bromell. “Those are my guys.”

Kerley said he never saw Bromell. “Me and my lane,” he said.

As to Kerley referencing where he came from, that would be Taylor, Texas, a town of about 15,000, 35 miles northeast of Austin. Kerley was raised by an aunt in a home with 13 cousins and little means. He played football and basketball and ran track in high school, but didn’t devote serious training time to sprinting until his senior in high school, when a broken collarbone curtailed his football season and shortened basketball’s. “So I started running track more seriously,” Kerley told Track and Field News in 2019. “I didn’t have the greatest times.” He split 46.9 on a relay, which is actually not shabby, but might seem slow in his rearview mirror.

Kerley went to junior college and in 2014, made his first trip to Eugene, for USA Nationals. According to U.S. team chiropractor Josh Glass, who is close with Kerley, Kerley flew to Portland, took a bus to Eugene, ran poorly and ran out of money, subsisting on popcorn, and then bummed a ride back to Portland. Simms says, “If Fred seems hesitant to open up, it’s because he’s not quick to trust people because of the way he’s lived a lot of his life.”

But he got faster. He transferred to Texas A&M, where in 2017, he ran 43.70 to break 1992 Olympic gold medalist Quincy Watts’ collegiate record.

He made the world team that summer and finished seventh in London. Two years later he took a bronze medal in the worlds in Doha and a ran a personal best of 43.64 seconds, sixth-fastest ever by an American. He seemed assured of a lucrative career in an event the U.S. has long dominated. Then came the pandemic lull, and a gradual return. Kerley began running 100s and 200s, while never disavowing the 400. A year ago, he ran 9.78 and finished third at the Olympic Trials and took a silver medal (beyond Jacobs) in the Gamers. His transition was complete.

He became one of those athletes who comes to track and field greatness not in a straight line, but through a maze of trial and error, finding success in one event, only to find more success in another one.

U.S. women’s shot putter Chase Ealey, 27 years old like Kerley, is another one. Early in her high school career she was a champion sprinter and thrower, only to later emphasize the shot and eventually to make that her main event. (It is not as strange a shift as it might seem – both sprints and throws require explosive power. “A lot of throwers were sprinters,” Ealey said before the meet). On Saturday night, 15 minutes before Kerley folded himself into the blocks, she became the first American woman to win a world outdoor championship in the shot (Michelle Carter won three medals as well as the Olympic gold medal in 2016). Track and field has always been a something-for-everyone sport, occasionally in the same athlete.

It’s important to emphasize: Sprinters often move up in distance, as sharpness fades and speed endurance becomes more accessible than pure 100-meter explosives. They rarely move down. They even more rarely move down from excellence in the 400 to even greater excellence in the 100. “Maybe way back in history,” says NBC’s Ato Boldon. “Not in modern times that I can think of.” (A note here: Bolt was strictly a 200-meter runner early in his career, until he dropped down to the 100 in 2008 and twice broke the world record and won Olympic gold. So there is that, and it was stunning at the time, and in retrospect, stripped of what Bolt did afterward, still is).

Kerley’s range is stunning: He is one of only three men to run sub-10 for the 100 meters, sub-20 for the 200 meters and sub-44 for the 400 meters. The others are Michael Norman of the U.S. and 400-meter world record holder Wayne Van Niekerk of South Africa. Notably, both of them remain 200 to 400 specialists, while Kerley now owns the 100 and will also run the 200 meters here, a pure sprinter.

And as darkness fell on Eugene, the best in the world, next in the line of succession.