After marathon heartbreak, Sisson wins 10,000m to qualify for Tokyo

Emily Sisson, Karissa Schweizer and Alicia Monson qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the women's 10000m
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Emily Sisson‘s first attempt to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics didn’t pan out.

On February 29, 2020, Sisson competed at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta. It was only her second marathon start, but she entered with high expectations after a sixth-place result at the 2019 London Marathon.

In Atlanta, Sisson managed to stay with the lead pack until mile 20. But when it became clear that the race was slipping away from her, she dropped out, recording a DNF. Sisson knew she was better off saving her legs for her next attempt to make the U.S. Olympic team: the women’s 10,000m, then only 111 days away.

Make that 483 days.

On Saturday morning, competing in 85-degree heat, Sisson won the women’s 10,000m at U.S. Olympic Trials. Her time of 31 minutes, 3.82 seconds broke the U.S. Olympic Trials record. (The race was initially supposed to take place on Saturday evening, but was moved up due to even higher forecasted temps.)

“It was tough, it was a grind out there today,” Sisson said after the race.

Including last year’s Olympic Marathon Trials, this marked Sisson’s fourth attempt to make a U.S. Olympic team. She competed in the 5000m in 2012, placing 12th. In 2016, she moved up to the 10,0000, finishing 10th.

“In 2012, I was a sophomore in college so that was just a fun experience, no expectations,” Sisson said. And then in 2016, “I had an injury pop up that I really didn’t know how to deal with and I went into Trials pretty out of shape.”

As for last February’s marathon?

“Olympic Marathon Trials, that really broke my heart,” Sisson said.  “I don’t feel like I had a chip on my shoulder or needed to prove anything because of that… I always just look forward.”

Karissa Schweizer finished second (31:16.52), while Alicia Monson placed third (31:18.55) to round out the U.S. team for the women’s 10,000m.

Earlier this week, Schweizer also qualified in the 5000m. While Schweizer said she will have to consult her coach – Jerry Schumacher – before making any final decisions, she hopes to double at the Tokyo Olympics.

NBC Sports’ Amelia Acosta contributed to this report from Eugene, Oregon. 

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC