Devon Allen did it again.
It came with much less fanfare and a little more drama than in 2016, but the former Duck is going to the Olympics for the second time.
Allen overcame a sluggish start with his signature strong finish to place second in the men’s 110-meter hurdles Saturday during the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials at Hayward Field.
He crossed in 13.10 seconds, finishing behind Grant Holloway (12.96) and in front of Daniel Roberts (13.11) to claim his spot on the team headed to Tokyo later this summer.
“I tied my season’s best with probably one of the worst starts I’ve had this year, so not bad,” Allen said with a smile.
Allen electrified a crowd of nearly 23,000 five years ago with an Olympic Trials win that followed his redshirt sophomore season at Oregon. He was also a standout receiver on the Ducks’ football team at the time.
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Since then, Allen finished fifth at the Summer Games in Rio, competed at two world championship meets, and won a third U.S. title.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a limited crowd was at the meet Saturday, but Allen, 26, was still given the hometown treatment.
Those cheers turned to boos when the runners were called back after a false start — a common occurrence at the Olympic Trials this week that has led to frustration in the stands. When the gun went off for a second time, Allen was slow out of the blocks and quickly fell behind.
If there was any nervousness among those in the stadium, there was none on the track, as Allen stayed true to his race plan.
“Me and my coach have worked a lot on just being aggressive and using my best part of the race to my advantage, which is hurdles five through 10, and coming on towards the end of the race,” Allen said. “I just trusted I’d be OK if I did that and that was the case.”
Allen’s 13.10 matched his time from Saturday’s semifinals, and both matched his fastest time since 2017. His personal record is 13.03 from the 2016 Olympic Trials final.
“It feels good regardless,” Allen said. “I’m just as ecstatic. Obviously, I didn’t win this time and we always want to win, but now that the race is over, I made the Olympic team and that was goal.”
Holloway nearly got himself a world record in his semifinal heat when he ran 12.81. That’s as close as you can get to the 12.80 Aries Merritt ran in 2012, a time that also stands as the American record.
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“I’m in the greatest shape of my life,” Holloway proclaimed.
The reigning world champion will head to his first Olympics as the favorite after taking over the world lead from Jamaica’s Omar McLeod, who has run 13.01 this season. Allen is tied with Jamaica’s Rasheed Broadbell for third in the world.
Roberts, who beat Holloway for the 2019 U.S. title, is now ranked fifth in the world.
“It was a great time today, bro, knowing I’m going to Tokyo,” said Roberts, who also is a first-time Olympian, making Allen the veteran of the American 110 hurdles traveling party.
“I’ve done a lot of cool things in my athletic career,” Allen said. “I’ve had a lot of great, high moments, whether it be winning the Olympic Trials, NCAAs, or scoring a touchdown against Michigan State on (ESPN) GameDay. All those things are pretty cool. … Hopefully this next one is an Olympic medal and hopefully it’s gold.”
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