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Why Athing Mu is the favorite in the Olympic 800-meter final

(Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

If you haven’t heard of Athing Mu before — pronounced “uh-thing-moe” — get ready. Because this 19-year-old is capable of becoming a world star overnight.

The 800 meters is one of the most anticipated track and field events, and this year’s Olympic competition looks to be another display of sheer greatest with Mu in the final.

Since she burst onto the scene at age 16, the Trenton, N.J. native has gone on to shatter records at the high school and collegiate levels, along with age-specific world records in the middle distances all the way from the 400 to the 800 meters.

As a freshman at Texas A&M, Mu broke six NCAA records — the indoor 600m, indoor 800m, indoor 4×400m relay, outdoor 400m, outdoor 800m and outdoor 4×400m relay — to rewrite the program’s record books.

Mu capped off her freshman season with an NCAA title in the 400m at Hayward Field, crossing the tape in 49.57. Then, the youngster turned pro.

Mu returned to Oregon two weeks later to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 800 meters, where she easily crushed the field, winning the race in 1:56.07 and punching her ticket to Tokyo.

Mu’s time broke the 800-meter U.S. Olympic trials record and was the second-fastest race ever run by an American woman in the event.

Now in her Olympic-debut, Mu has made it through two rounds of the event and the 19-year-old phenom is finally eyeing the prize: gold in the 800 meter final at the Tokyo Games.

While she will face a fierce international field, including world No. 2 Natoya Goule of Jamaica and GBR’s Jemma Reekie who clocked a season-best of 1:56.96, Mu breezed through the prelims in 2:01.10 crossing the line first, and then one day later, cruised to another first-place win of 1:58.07 during the semifinals on Saturday.

Mu, along with her U.S. teammate Raevyn Rogers, are set to have their Olympic medal moment on Tuesday in Tokyo.