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Colleen Quigley, 2016 Olympian in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, posted a video on Instagram on Saturday announcing her decision to withdraw from the 2021 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials. Despite her absence from any steeplechase races since 2019, she had been considered one of the top contenders to make the Tokyo Games.
“Earlier this week, I had to come to terms with the fact that my body needs a break,” she wrote. “I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to compete in Tokyo since I got on the plane home from Rio in 2016, but I’m very sad to share that I won’t be able to line up on the track to qualify for my second Olympics and my sixth USA team on Sunday.”
Quigley, 28, is one of the three women who have dominated the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the past five years, alongside 2017 world champion Emma Coburn and American record-holder Courtney Frerichs. Quigley’s lead-up to the Trials was packed with life changes and transitions.
At the beginning of the year, Quigley announced she was leaving Nike and the Bowerman Track Club, the group she’d trained with since the beginning of her career, under coach Jerry Schumacher. She’s been on her own, now sponsored by Lululemon, and putting in long training stints in Flagstaff, Arizona, under the direction of her former Florida State coach Josh Seitz.
In her video, Quigley didn’t specify what her injury is, but had indicated in May that she was struggling with plantar issues. She has not raced the steeplechase since June 2019.
“The truth is these last couple months I’ve been dealing with some issues with my body and there’s been a lot of ups and downs along the way,” she said. “But this last week, things took a turn for the worse.”
Quigley’s scratch means that somebody new will make the team for the first time since 2016, save Allie Ostrander’s appearance at the 2019 world championships (the U.S. was given four spots because Coburn was the defending champion). Quigley came into the Trials with the third-fastest qualifying time (9:11.41), behind Frerichs (9:09.75) and Coburn (9:02.35). The women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase is a relatively new addition to the Olympic program, first included in 2008. The depth of the U.S. interest and talent is growing rapidly. Valeri Constien (9:25.53), Mel Lawrence (9:27.34), Leah Falland (9:28.72), and Marisa Howard (9:29.65) all arrive at the Trials with the Olympic qualifying time of 9:30.
The first round of the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase is at 6:35 p.m. Pacific on Sunday and the final is at 8:47 p.m. on Thursday.