Unbeaten in 13 races, Athing Mu is the future of athletics in America | CNN

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Three years have handed since Athing Mu was final crushed in an 800-meter race. In that point, she’s been topped American champion, Olympic champion and world champion within the distance – all earlier than the age of 21.

The extraordinary begin to her skilled operating profession has led many, with good purpose, to view Mu as essentially the most thrilling athlete in monitor and discipline for the time being.

When she held off a late problem from Nice Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson to win gold on the world championships final yr, Mu turned the youngest girl in historical past to personal Olympic and world titles in a person monitor and discipline occasion.

Given her meteoric rise and memorable success since turning skilled, it’s maybe unsurprising that Mu is feeling the load of her previous performances.

“There’s stress, for positive,” she tells CNN Sport from Los Angeles, California, the place she has just lately moved for a brand new coaching program.

“And never solely from clearly the surface world, however for myself, too, figuring out that I used to be in a position to do these two issues the previous two years – these actually huge, unbelievable issues.”

It was January 2022 – 13 races in the past – when Mu final didn’t win an occasion of any distance.

She was scheduled to run on the Millrose Video games in New York this month however withdrew a number of days earlier than the occasion, saying she wished to deal with the out of doors season and the upcoming world championships.

Mu takes a commanding lead in the 800-meter heats at the world championships last year.

“I might like to hold that streak,” says Mu. “I believe the principle factor for me is to proceed to imagine and know that it doesn’t matter what occurs, the one particular person going to be affected by regardless of the result’s, whether or not good or dangerous, goes to be myself.

“I do know the psychological challenges that I’ve to undergo. I simply have to assist relieve myself mentally on that facet by figuring out that nothing is ideal and no matter occurs goes to occur.”

The athlete more than likely to finish Mu’s streak seems to be Hodgkinson, who ran a world-leading time of 1:23.41 within the 600 meters final month.

The 20-year-old Mu is simply three months youthful than her rival and so far holds the bragging rights of their head-to-head over 800 meters.

She raced away from Hodgkinson – and the remainder of the sector – within the closing straight on the Tokyo Olympics, then edged out the Brit after an exciting dash end on the world championships in Oregon final yr.

“Whichever approach it goes – whether or not she has the quickest time or I’ve the quickest time – it simply jogs my memory of the pleasant competitors we’ve got between each other, how that began a few years in the past and the way we’re nonetheless battling it out collectively,” says Mu.

Between them, we could in the future see a brand new world report within the ladies’s 800 meters. The present mark of 1:53.28, set by the Czech Republic’s Jarmila Kratochvílová in 1983, is the longest-standing out of doors world report in monitor and discipline.

Mu’s finest time, set on the world championships, is sort of two seconds exterior that, however a wholesome rivalry would possibly assist her on her approach.

“I do know battling it out [with Hodgkinson] is barely going to be good for us individually,” says Mu, “and it’s going to be good as a collective aim within the 800 interval as a result of we’re sort of bringing it again to the outdated days when it was a key occasion.

“It’s good to see this occasion transfer on as the long run goes.”

Mu and Hodgkinson lead the women's 800m final at the world championships.

No matter what her future holds, Mu’s unbelievable profitable streak has already made the athletics world sit up and take discover.

Her peak and lengthy, easy stride make for a chic operating fashion over middle-distance occasions, although Mu has competed in every thing from 200 meters as much as the mile as a junior {and professional}.

“I see poetry in movement – simply the smoothest runner I’ve most likely ever seen,” 400-meter hurdles world report holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has said about her relay teammate. “She has a lot forward of her.”

Mu and McLaughlin-Levrone, who each practice underneath famed monitor coach Bob Kersee in Los Angeles, had been a part of the gold-medal-winning 4×400-meter relay workforce on the Tokyo Olympics, whereas one other member of the workforce, the recently-retired Allyson Felix, acted as a mentor for Mu earlier than and through the Video games.

“She’s most likely the individual that was involved with the youthful athletes that had been transferring in as she was going out,” says Mu.

“She’s a kind of athletes who desires to present again, and I can undoubtedly inform as a result of she spoke so effectively concerning the youthful athletes competing along with her.”

From left to right, McLaughlin-Levrone, Felix, Dalilah Muhammad and Mu receive their gold medals in Tokyo.

However earlier than Mu was in a position to flip to Felix – the USA’s most embellished monitor and discipline athlete – for recommendation and inspiration, she had her household.

The second-youngest of seven kids, she grew up watching her siblings excel at monitor operating throughout highschool. Earlier than lengthy, her probability arrived.

“Actually, I sort of simply fell in line,” says Mu. “By the point it was my flip, everybody was or did have their time in athletics. It was simply in time to help me, put me into the game and train me their methods.”

Mu was born in Trenton, New Jersey, a yr after her household had emigrated to the USA from South Sudan. She usually alludes to her household heritage, notably by carrying each the American and South Sudanese flags when she returned residence from the Olympics.

“My entire total household, together with me, is South Sudanese, and I’ve that blood in me as effectively,” says Mu. “I undoubtedly know that my mother particularly appreciates it, together with my dad, to nonetheless be representing and never leaving that a part of me too far-off.”

It’s unclear when the primary race of the yr might be for Mu. She hopes to run extra occasions exterior her favored 800-meter distance sooner or later, and there are additionally the world championships in Budapest, Hungary, to focus on in August.

It seems to be set to be one other huge yr forward.

“After all, I might like to be the world champion once more,” says Mu, earlier than shortly reeling in her expectations.

“I’ve moved on to this new setting [in LA], new coaching, new coach – it’s so much to regulate to. I’m simply taking it gradual – day-to-day, follow by follow, meet by meet – and seeing the place this yr takes me.”

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