Athletics at the 2020 Summer Olympics – Women's 800 metres

The women's 800 metres event at the 2020 Summer Olympics took place from 30 July to 3 August 2021 at the Japan National Stadium.[1] 46 athletes from 29 nations competed.[2] 19-year-old Athing Mu of the United States won the gold medal. The silver medal went to Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain, and the bronze medal went to Mu's American teammate Raevyn Rogers.

Women's 800 metres
at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad
Olympic Athletics.png
Olympic Athletics
VenueJapan National Stadium
Dates30 July 2021 (heats)
31 July 2021 (semifinals)
3 August 2021 (final)[1]
Competitors46 from 29 nations
Winning time1:55.21
1st place, gold medalist(s) Athing Mu  United States
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Keely Hodgkinson  Great Britain
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Raevyn Rogers  United States
← 2016
2024 →


The story of the race was a tale of explosive youth and transatlantic rivalry. The fastest qualifier in the semis was 19-year-old American sensation Athing Mu, with Great Britain's Alexandra Bell getting one of the time qualifying spots behind her. Another 19-year-old sensation, Great Britain's European indoor 800 metres champion and senior novice Keely Hodgkinson, won the third semi, leading the (relatively) experienced 25-year-old American Raevyn Rogers to get the slowest time qualifier 1:59.28. The final included a third young star from Great Britain who had made an international breakthrough in the COVID ravaged 2020 season as double 2019 under-23 European champion at the middle distances, 23-year-old Jemma Reekie. The biggest name eliminated before the final was the third American, Ajeé Wilson who had twice won World Championship bronze, in 2017 and 2019, behind athletes now ineligible because of high naturally occurring testosterone. Wang Chunyu of China, Natoya Goule of Jamaica and Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia rounded out the final.

While few outside of the USA had ever faced her, Mu's reputation as a front runner from the NCAA season preceded her. Coming off the break, Mu was the leader. First semi winner Natoya Goule and Habitam Alemu fell in behind letting Mu dictate the pace. Rather than blow their doors off, Mu ran a controlled first 400 metres, trusting her finishing speed, with the pack still tight as she completed the first lap in 57.82. Only Rogers was a couple steps off the back of the pack. Over the next hundred metres, Mu accelerated and the pack turned into a single file line. As they passed 200 metres to go, Jemma Reekie worked her way past Alemu and Goule on the inside to lead the chase of Mu. Hodgkinson joined the back of the group of four breaking away a couple of metres behind Mu. Through the turn, Mu expanded her lead as Hodgkinson followed Reekie inside of Alemu and Goule, then stepped to the outside for running room. Rogers was next to last coming off the turn as Mu pulled away from Reekie. Hodgkinson was the only one left to give chase, holding Mu but failing to gain. Mu had five metres on Hodgkinson at the finish, who had several metres herself on the athletes battling for bronze. Behind the two clear front-runners, Rogers moved out to lane 4 and sprinted past the field to grab bronze at the line from a despairing Reekie struggling to maintain form in the last thirty metres.

Mu's winning time of 1:55.21 was number 11 on the world all-time list[3] and the fourth fastest of this century (and the sixth fastest since the world record was set in 1983). It also broke the 4-year-old United States record. Hodgkinson broke the 26-year old British National Record of double Olympic champion and compatriot Kelly Holmes - both runners set continental junior records. Following the race, commentators predicted the budding Mu-Hodgkinson rivalry could come to define the women's 800 metres over the coming decade. As if to prove the point, at the end of the season, while Mu took a much deserved break, Hodgkinson won her first global title, becoming 2021 Diamond League champion over 800 metres in Zurich.[3][4]


This was the 17th time the event was held. The women's 800 metres was first held in 1928, but the idea that the distance was too great for women prompted the IOC to drop it from the Olympic programme.[5] It was reintroduced in 1960.[5]


A National Olympic Committee (NOC) could enter up to 3 qualified athletes in the women's 800 metres event if all athletes meet the entry standard or qualify by ranking during the qualifying period. (The limit of 3 has been in place since the 1930 Olympic Congress.) The qualifying standard is 1:59.50. This standard was "set for the sole purpose of qualifying athletes with exceptional performances unable to qualify through the IAAF World Rankings pathway." The world rankings, based on the average of the best five results for the athlete over the qualifying period and weighted by the importance of the meet, will then be used to qualify athletes until the cap of 48 is reached.[2][6]

The qualifying period was originally from 1 May 2019 to 29 June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the period was suspended from 6 April 2020 to 30 November 2020, with the end date extended to 29 June 2021. The world rankings period start date was also changed from 1 May 2019 to 30 June 2020; athletes who had met the qualifying standard during that time were still qualified, but those using world rankings would not be able to count performances during that time. The qualifying time standards could be obtained in various meets during the given period that have the approval of the IAAF. Both indoor and outdoor meets were eligible for qualifying. The most recent Area Championships may be counted in the ranking, even if not during the qualifying period.[2][7]

NOCs can also use their universality place—each NOC can enter one female athlete regardless of time if they had no female athletes meeting the entry standard for an athletics event—in the 800 metres.[2]

Competition formatEdit

The event continued to use the three-round format introduced in 2012.[8]


Prior to this competition, the existing world and Olympic records were as follows.

World record   Jarmila Kratochvílová (TCH) 1:53.28 Munich, West Germany 26 July 1983
Olympic record   Nadiya Olizarenko (URS) 1:53.43 Moscow, Soviet Union 27 July 1980
Time (s) Athlete Nation
Africa (records) 1:54.01 Pamela Jelimo   Kenya
Asia (records) 1:55.54 Liu Dong   China
Europe (records) 1:53.28 WR Jarmila Kratochvílová   Czechoslovakia
North, Central America
and Caribbean
1:54.44 Ana Fidelia Quirot   Cuba
Oceania (records) 1:58.09 Catriona Bisset   Australia
South America (records) 1:56.58 Letitia Vriesde   Suriname

The following national records were established during the competition:

Nation Athlete Round Time Notes
Finland Sara Kuivisto Heats 2:00.15
Semifinals 1:59.41
United States Athing Mu Final 1:55.21
Great Britain Keely Hodgkinson Final 1:55.88


All times are Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)

The women's 800 metres took place over three separate days.[1]

Date Time Round
Friday, 30 July 2021 9:00 Round 1
Saturday, 31 July 2021 19:00 Semifinals
Tuesday, 3 August 2021 19:25 Final



Progression rules: First 3 in each heat (Q) and the next 6 fastest (q) advance to the Semifinals.

Heat 1Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 3 Rénelle Lamote   France 2:01.92 Q
2 5 Winnie Nanyondo   Uganda 2:02.02 Q
3 2 Lore Hoffmann   Switzerland 2:02.05 Q
4 4 Angelika Sarna   Poland 2:02.18
5 8 Madeleine Kelly   Canada 2:02.39
6 6 Morgan Mitchell   Australia 2:05.44
7 Līga Velvere   Latvia DNF

Heat 2Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 1 Natoya Goule   Jamaica 1:59.83 Q
2 3 Noélie Yarigo   Benin 2:00.11 SB, Q
3 2 Hedda Hynne   Norway 2:00.76 Q
4 4 Halimah Nakaayi   Uganda 2:00.92 q
5 6 Katharina Trost   Germany 2:00.99 q
6 8 Eunice Sum   Kenya 2:03.00
7 5 Nadia Power   Ireland 2:03.74
8 7 Rose Lokonyen   Refugee Olympic Team 2:11.87

Heat 3Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 2 Athing Mu   United States 2:01.10 Q
2 5 Habitam Alemu   Ethiopia 2:01.20 Q
3 7 Joanna Jóźwik   Poland 2:01.87 Q
4 6 Melissa Bishop-Nriagu   Canada 2:02.11
5 3 Christina Hering   Germany 2:02.23
6 4 Bianka Kéri   Hungary 2:02.82
7 8 Louise Shanahan   Ireland 2:03.57

Heat 4Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 5 Raevyn Rogers   United States 2:01.42 Q
2 7 Keely Hodgkinson   Great Britain 2:01.59 Q
3 1 Mary Moraa   Kenya 2:01.66 Q
4 6 Netsanet Desta   Ethiopia 2:01.98
5 4 Lindsey Butterworth   Canada 2:02.45
6 3 Anna Wielgosz   Poland 2:03.20
7 8 Síofra Cléirigh Büttner   Ireland 2:04.62
8 2 Nimali Waliwarsha   Sri Lanka 2:10.23

Heat 5Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 8 Rose Mary Almanza   Cuba 2:00.71 Q
2 3 Déborah Rodríguez   Uruguay 2:00.90 Q
3 1 Rababe Arafi   Morocco 2:00.96 (.957), Q
4 4 Alexandra Bell   Great Britain 2:00.96 (.960), q
5 6 Catriona Bisset   Australia 2:01.65
6 5 Delia Sclabas   Switzerland 2:03.03
7 7 Shafiqua Maloney   Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2:07.89
8 2 D'Jamila Tavares   São Tomé and Príncipe 2:16.72 PB

Heat 6Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 4 Jemma Reekie   Great Britain 1:59.97 Q
2 1 Ajeé Wilson   United States 2:00.02 Q
3 7 Wang Chunyu   China 2:00.05 Q
4 6 Sara Kuivisto   Finland 2:00.15 q, NR
5 8 Elena Bellò   Italy 2:01.07 q
6 2 Natalia Romero   Spain 2:01.16 q, PB
7 5 Gabriela Gajanová   Slovakia 2:01.41 SB
8 3 Emily Cherotich Tuei   Kenya 2:08.08


Progression rules: First 2 in each heat (Q) and the next 2 fastest (q) advance to the Final.

Heat 1Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 5 Natoya Goule   Jamaica 1:59.57 Q
2 3 Jemma Reekie   Great Britain 1:59.77 Q
3 8 Mary Moraa   Kenya 2:00.47
4 4 Ajeé Wilson   United States 2:00.79
5 2 Joanna Jóźwik   Poland 2:02.32
6 1 Elena Bellò   Italy 2:02.35
7 7 Hedda Hynne   Norway 2:02.38
8 6 Halimah Nakaayi   Uganda 2:04.44

Heat 2Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 4 Athing Mu   United States 1:58.07 Q
2 3 Habitam Alemu   Ethiopia 1:58.40 Q
3 5 Alexandra Bell   Great Britain 1:58.83 q
4 7 Lore Hoffmann   Switzerland 1:59.38
5 6 Renelle Lamote   France 1:59.40
6 1 Sara Kuivisto   Finland 1:59.41 NR
7 8 Noélie Yarigo   Benin 2:01.41
8 2 Natalia Romero   Spain 2:01.52

Heat 3Edit

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
1 5 Keely Hodgkinson   Great Britain 1:59.12 Q
2 8 Wang Chunyu   China 1:59.14 Q, PB
3 3 Raevyn Rogers   United States 1:59.28 q
4 4 Rose Mary Almanza   Cuba 1:59.65
5 1 Winnie Nanyondo   Uganda 1:59.84 SB
6 7 Rababe Arafi   Morocco 1:59.86
7 2 Déborah Rodríguez   Uruguay 2:01.76
8 6 Katharina Trost   Germany 2:02.14


Rank Lane Athlete Nation Time Notes
  3 Athing Mu   United States 1:55.21 NR AJR
  4 Keely Hodgkinson   Great Britain 1:55.88 NR AJR
  8 Raevyn Rogers   United States 1:56.81 PB
4 6 Jemma Reekie   Great Britain 1:56.90 PB
5 2 Wang Chunyu   China 1:57.00 PB
6 7 Habitam Alemu   Ethiopia 1:57.56 SB
7 1 Alexandra Bell   Great Britain 1:57.66 PB
8 5 Natoya Goule   Jamaica 1:58.26


  1. ^ a b c "Athletics Competition Schedule". Tokyo 2020. 23 April 2018. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Qualification System – Games of the XXXI Olympiad – Athletics" (PDF). IAAF. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Athing Mu races to gold in women's 800m as Keely Hodgkinson takes silver". the Guardian. 3 August 2021. Archived from the original on 3 August 2021. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  4. ^ "Great Britain's Keely Hodgkinson will be targeting Paris 2024 gold".
  5. ^ a b Welch, Paula; Costa, D. Margaret (1994). "A Century of Olympic Competition". In Sharon Ruth Guthrie & D. Margaret Costa (ed.). Women and Sport: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Human Kinetics. pp. 127–128. ISBN 9780873226868. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  6. ^ "IAAF to follow other sports with world ranking system for athletes". BBC Sport. 7 March 2018. Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Olympic qualification period suspended until 1 December 2020". World Athletics. 6 April 2020. Archived from the original on 9 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Athletics Explanatory Guide" (PDF). Tokyo 2020. August 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2021.