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The defending champion and American record holder in the 10,000 meters has decided against competing at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, withdrawing from the event on Monday.
A message to Huddle was not immediately returned, but the updated status of entries page on Monday showed she has scratched the 10,000 meters.
After the Olympic Trials and the Olympics were postponed in 2020, Huddle’s career path took a detour. While younger athletes found the extra time helpful in building more base mileage and growing into new routines as professionals, distance runners like Huddle, 36, weren’t quite as keen on a “bonus” year of training.
“It was probably a net negative for me,” Huddle said in an interview on May 20. “I do feel like there was some extra pounding and grinding on my body that I didn’t need and I wasn’t getting the body work I should have during COVID. That did take a toll.”
Huddle has spent a lot of time focused on physical therapy and chiropractic work in an attempt to treat a hip issue that although she said in May is not painful, causes inefficiency and imbalance in her stride. She has had scoliosis, which causes asymmetry in her form, but with more mileage it can become amplified. She had some injury pain during her preparation for the Olympic Marathon Trials, which took place in February 2020.
“We’ve been unwinding that and it took some real races to show how bad it was,” she said. “My one hip is not in the socket moving smoothly…so my extension and my power just isn’t good off that one side.”
Early in the season, Huddle dropped out of a 5,000-meter race, then she finished the PT Platinum Qualifier 5,000 meters at the end of May in 15:24.12. On Saturday she raced the New York Road Runner Mini 10K in Central Park, placing 11th in 33:07.
Huddle set the American 10,000-meter record at the 2016 Olympics in 30:13.17. She’s also a 28-time national champion. Her Olympic Trials qualifying time was the second-fastest (30:58.46), behind her sometimes-training partner Emily Sisson (30:49.57).
In May, she had been hoping the taper into the Trials race on June 26 was what she needed to make her third Olympics. It would have also been the deepest U.S. women’s 10,000-meter field of her career, so even a great race may not have resulted in a top-three finish.
“If I can feel like myself out there and just feel smooth, like I navigated that uncharted depth well, that’s all I can really ask for,” she said, before scratching. “There will be little room for errors and I think I have to take that into account when I evaluate how things went.”