Athing Mu is shown mid-stride on the track in blurred motion.

Tokyo Olympics

Athing Mu races to gold in Tokyo, makes US Olympic history

Nineteen-year-old Athing Mu made history on the track in Tokyo on Tuesday by winning gold for the US in the 800-meter race.

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Athing Mu, of the United States, runs to win the final of the women's 800-meters at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Aug. 3, 2021.

Credit:

Francisco Seco/AP

Athing Mu grabbed the Olympic spotlight on Tuesday in Tokyo winning gold for the United States in the 800-meter race.

Athing Mu's historic win marked the first time the US has claimed the top spot since the 1968 Games in Mexico City.

As if victory wasn’t enough, Athing Mu, 19, snagged a new American record at the same time.

Without spectators allowed at the Tokyo Olympics, Athing Mu supporters in her hometown of Trenton, New Jersey, gathered in a large room to watch the teenage track sensation.

The excitement was palpable from Al Jennings (center in red), who has coached Mu since she was 9.

Mu was born to South Sudanese parents who moved to the US just before she was born in New Jersey.

Deng Mu, one of Athing’s older brothers, told The New York Times before the games that being from an immigrant family give his sister a determination and focus.

“When you are from an immigrant family that comes in with its back against the wall, you know what the bottom is, he said. "It gives us a focus on pursuing things that would help us improve our lives.”

For Athing Mu, that focus was running.

Before heading off to Tokyo, she shared her hopes on her YouTube channel.

“I just want to be an Olympic gold medalist!" Athing Mu says enthusiastically. "To be completely honest. So, I’m just looking forward to that. Hopefully, that comes, God willing.”

That hard work paid off on Tuesday.

The podium for the 800-meter race was guaranteed to have a new champion at the Tokyo Games.

All of the medalists from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio were ineligble to compete because of controversial new restrictions on hormone levels issued by track and field's governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations.

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