EUGENE, Ore. — The U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials came to a halt Sunday afternoon with temperatures reaching 108 degrees. The trials resumed at 10:30 p.m. with the temperature reading 99 degrees, and Texas A&M’s Annie Kunz locked up a ticket to Tokyo with a first-place finish in the women’s heptathlon.
The remaining five events were not completed before press time.
Kunz was in second place through six events with 5,814 points behind leader Kendell Williams. Kunz took the lead in the final event, the 800, when the trials resumed and finished with 6,703 points. Williams finished second with 6,683 points.
Heptathlete Taliyah Brooks, was carted off the field in a wheelchair before the suspension and eventually had to withdraw from the competition.
Brooks had been in fourth place after five of the seven heptathlon events. She was taken out on a wheelchair during warmups for the sixth event, the javelin. She was listed as a “DNS” — did not start — but hours later, USA Track and Field said she had been granted a request to re-enter the javelin competition and after that, she would join the last event, the 800 meters. But when the time came for the throws, she did not appear, and USATF said she had withdrawn from the meet.
Fans were filing into the stadium for the headline races of the final day of Olympic qualifying when, at around 3 p.m., the track announcer came onto the PA system and said action was being suspended due to extreme heat. He asked all spectators to evacuate.
A USA Track and Field official told NBC that temperatures on the surface of the track exceeded 150 degrees.
Among those that were waiting to secure spots in the Olympics were Noah Lyles in the men’s 200, and Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin, who were set to face off in the women’s 400 hurdles, along with A&M’s Shamier Little. Fellow Aggies Fred Kerley (men’s 200) and Athing Mu (women’s 800) were set to begin their finals around 11:30 p.m.
Earlier, JuVaughn Harrison won the high jump, contested under cloudless skies in 105-degree temperatures. Harrison was also entered in the long jump, which had been pushed back to the evening. A record heat wave settled in over the Pacific Northwest for the second day, with the temperature in Portland, two hours north on Interstate 5, reaching an all-time record of 110.
With the humidity, Eugene felt like 113 in mid-afternoon. Third-place high jump finisher Shelby McEwen called the heat “mind blowing.”
“It’s crazy. I wasn’t expecting it to be this humid,” he said. “We just had to be mentally locked in, mentally prep ourselves for it, stay hydrated and go out and get the job done.”
The men’s 5,000 took place at 10 a.m. in a nod to the forecast, which since early last week had predicted triple-digits over the weekend. In temperatures reaching 90 degrees on the track, Paul Chelimo fended off a pair of runners for a 0.19-second victory.