At this time last summer, Cole Hocker had yet to run a meaningful race in college, let alone on the Olympic stage.
A year later, the promising but inexperienced 20-year-old is the U.S. men’s track team’s last hope of avoiding ignominy.
An American man has won gold in an individual running event at least once at every Olympics in which the U.S. has participated. Since 1896, the only exception is the 1980 Moscow Games that the U.S. famously boycotted.
That streak is on life support in Tokyo with nine of 10 men’s individual running events already complete. The underachieving Americans have claimed four second-place finishes and a pair of third places so far in those races but have yet to produce a gold medalist.
Hocker’s presence in Saturday’s men’s 1,500 meters final offers the U.S. one last-gasp chance to preserve its gold-medal streak. The floppy-haired University of Oregon sophomore has