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EUGENE – This is Casimir Loxsom’s time.
On Friday, the Brooks Beasts middle distance prospect was the fastest athlete out of the 800-meter semifinal with a 1:44.92. He extended his arms across the finish line to make sure there was no one else ahead of him.
“It’s exciting to do something I’ve never done before,” Loxsom said after the race. “It’s about what it will take to make the team.”
It’s been a near perfect season for Loxsom. He set a new U.S. 600-meter record in 1:15.33, which was only a white flare of what may come next. A victory at the Hoka One One Distance Classic, a gold medal at the World Relays and a strong showing in his first 1,500-meter in a long time are the signs that Loxsom’s transition into the life of a professional athlete is ready to take the next step.
“I’ve been really fit the last couple years and I haven’t PR’ed since I was 20, so that’s a big monkey off my back.”
In 2013, a time under 1:44 was required to make the 800-meter final. Coming into this year’s championship, it did not seem like a time that fast would be necessary to make the team. The stars of 2012 and 2013 were just not there in the lead-up to Eugene. Duane Solomon was nursing an ankle injury at the Adidas Grand Prix and failed to finish the race. Nick Symmonds had a busy off-season with off-track activities and was coming off an injury plagued 2014.
The semifinals also silenced doubters – admittedly I was among them – that one of the Olympians would not make the team. They are in a good position to prove me wrong on Sunday.
But Loxsom is still the most intriguing in his rise to prominence. He’s been knocking on the door of a major U.S. championship team. The praise from Symmonds has sold me.
“He’s got ungodly speed. It’s insane,” Symmonds said. “He can step on the track and give you a 33 second 300 right now. Not joking. I’ve trained with over 100 different training partners in my career and I’ve never met anyone with the speed that Cas Loxsom has.”
In 2008, Symmonds’ training partner Christian Smith made the Olympic team for Beijing off a last second dive for the final spot. The state of U.S. middle distance running has taken another step forward since. Loxsom has as well.
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