Elle Purrier St. Pierre set a new U.S. track trials record of 3 minutes, 58.03 seconds Monday in the at 1,500 meters, qualifying for the Olympics in Tokyo.
The old record was set 33 years ago by Mary Slaney.
St. Pierre started on the inside in the 13-woman race and was nearly pushed onto the infield in the early jostling.
“I tried not to let it bother me, and honestly, it gave me a little boost,” she said. “I wanted to go to the front and I thought, ‘I’m going for it.’”
She never looked back. And now, the 25-year-old who milked cows growing up on a dairy farm in Vermont, is part of a new generation of 1,500 runners heading to the Olympics.
A surprise? Depends on who you ask.
“I think expectations ruin things,” she said. “Lining up today, I was not thinking I got the job done before it was done.”
Cory McGee was second and Heather MacLean finished third to earn spots to Tokyo.
“I never thought I’d be here today, and here I am,” said MacLean, who only made the final after winning a protest after being knocked around by incidental contact in the preliminaries.
Jenny Simpson, whose third-place finish in Rio five years ago made her the first American woman to win an Olympic medal at 1,500 meters, finished 10th in the race, the first true stunner of U.S. track trials.
That was three spots ahead of Nikki Hiltz, the runner who came out as transgender earlier this year and was also given a good chance to go to Tokyo.
Hiltz and Simpson were both involved in a smash-up just after the starting gun on a sweltering day at Hayward Field. Neither recovered. Hiltz fell from fourth to last over the final lap. Simpson was in the middle of the pack and never had a closing kick.
“It’s hard to believe,” said Simpson, the 34-year-old who also has a gold and two silvers from world championships. “I really thought I was going to make the team and I just wasn’t ready. I needed to be in 4-flat shape, and that was proven today by the incredible run of the people who made the team.”