Athing Mu: three things to know, including how to pronounce her name


Author’s Note: On the final day of U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, 19-year-old Athing Mu secured a spot at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Mu won the women’s 800m in 1:56.07, setting a new personal best and breaking the U.S. Olympic Trials record. Here are three things you should know about the rising star.

The first thing you should know about Athing Mu: how to correctly pronounce her name.

It sounds like “uh-thing moe.” Here’s a recording of Mu saying it herself, courtesy of Texas A&M:

The second thing you should know: she’s really fast.

Mu, 19, just completed her freshman year at Texas A&M.

During her one and only collegiate season (she announced last week that she is turning pro and signing with Nike), Mu broke numerous records, including the the world junior record in the women’s indoor 800m and collegiate records in the outdoor 400m and 800m.

Even though she is the fastest American woman in the 400m this year (a distinction she still holds after the final of the 400m final at Olympic Trials), she only competed in the 800m at U.S. Trials.

She will be joined in Tokyo by two world medalists: 2019 world silver medalist Raevyn Rogers (who finished second at Olympic Trials) and American record holder and 2019 world bronze medalist Ajee’ Wilson (third at Trials).

The only American to ever win Olympic gold in the women’s 800m is Madeline Manning (1968), a 53-year drought that could end at the Tokyo Games.

While the 800m will be Mu’s only individual event at the Olympics, she could add the 4x400m relay to her schedule once she gets to Tokyo. Mu herself floated that idea after winning the 400m at NCAA Championships earlier this month.

In her NCAA post-race press conference, Mu described watching the U.S. women’s 4x400m relay team win gold at the 2017 World Championships, where Allyson Felix’s split was 48 seconds.

“I split 48 today,” Mu said, adding, “Wink, wink, Team USA coaches.”

(A)thing #3: she comes from a big family

Mu was born in 2002, one year after her family immigrated to the United States from Sudan, settling in Trenton, New Jersey.

The second-youngest of seven siblings, Mu got her start in competitive running by following her older brothers and sisters to track club.

She attended Trenton Central High School in New Jersey, though she didn’t compete for the school team at the suggestion of her club coach, Al Jennings. Instead, she prioritized high-level competitions, making the rounds at AAU competitions.

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC