Two Miami athletes to compete for Olympic berths


Photo by Jeremy O'Brien for Miami Athletics

Miami RedHawk Olivia Bechtel, seen here at the NCAA Championships last week, is trying out for the U.S. Olympic Team

By Lukas Nelson

Two Miami athletes are seeking berths on the Olympic teams of the United States and Great Britain over the next week.

Today, June 18, Olivia Bechtel will add one more accomplishment to her storied running career: An Olympic Trials appearance. 

The recently graduated Miami track star will appear in Friday’s first round of the 400m dash.

“It’s super exciting,” Bechtel said. “If you would’ve asked me at the beginning of the season, I didn’t even know that this was a (possibility), so to have the opportunity to go out there and compete again… is a very exciting and awesome opportunity.”

The Olympic Trials for the U.S. Track & Field Team are taking place at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, the same site where Bechtel finished 23rd overall in the 400-meter dash in the NCAA Outdoor Championships last week. Bechtel remained in Eugene for the week, as she waited to see whether or not she would qualify for the trials. 

The first round of the women’s 400-meter dash is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. If Bechtel runs well enough to advance, the semifinal will take place at 7:20 p.m. Saturday. If Bechtel advances to the final round, she will run for a chance at an Olympic berth at 7:06 p.m. Sunday.

Since Bechtel was unsure of whether she would qualify for the trials, she had to arrange last-minute training plans, including working out at local high school tracks in Eugene. After her less than stellar finish in the NCAA meet last week, Bechtel has been trying to improve some of her weaker areas during her training sessions.

“I’ve been focusing on cleaning up some of the things that I know went wrong in my race out there the last time,” Bechtel said, “so that when I go out there on Friday I can put my best self out on the line.”

Finley McLear, a junior at Miami, also has several running accolades that are starting to pile up. The RedHawk star finished in second place in the 800-meter dash at the NCAA Indoor Championships, just missing the first place finisher by a 10th of a second. He followed that up with a first-place finish in the Outdoor Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship, helping the Miami men’s team take home the conference title.

Miami runner Finley McLear, seen here at the NCAA Championships, hopes to qualify for Great Britain’s track team in the Olympics. Photo by Jeremy O’Brien for Miami Athletics

After his performance in the indoor championships in March, there were high expectations for McLear going into the NCAA Outdoor Championships. The England native didn’t disappoint, finishing second in the preliminary round of the 800-meter dash before capturing a fourth-place finish in the final round of the event. The finish was good enough for McLear to earn First-Team All-America honors, becoming the 24th Miami men’s track and field athlete to earn the accomplishment.

Once his NCAA season was over, McLear headed back to England to prepare for the Muller British Athletics Championships. The event, which starts on June 25 in Manchester, England, will determine who qualifies for Great Britain’s Olympic team.

McLear is set to run in the 800-meter dash in England. The first round for the event will take place on Saturday, June 26, at approximately 1:35 p.m. If McLear advances to the final round, he will run for a chance to qualify for the Olympic team at 3 p.m.  Sunday, June 27.