Trippas’ last hour go for Tokyo

Ed Trippas
Ed Trippas earned himself a last-minute spot on the Australian Olympic squad, for the 3000m steeplechase event. Photo: Athletics Australia

Australian steeplechaser Ed Trippas raced up until the final moments of the Tokyo 2020 qualifying period in the hopes of securing a position in the Australian side and earning his Olympic debut. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

There were 13,200 hours of Tokyo 2020’s qualifying period, but Australian 3000m steeplechaser Ed Trippas left it with only 2.5 hours remaining to earn his Olympic debut.

The only thing stopping him: a required time of 8:22.00, one that only three Australians had ever achieved.

The 23-year-old found himself on a plane to Spain with one final hope of making the Australian athletics team. He began the season with a time of 8:33.90, needing to cut off 11 seconds if he hoped to qualify.

Before Spain, it was the Australian Track and Field Championship that edged Trippas closer to his Olympic dream. He recorded a third-place finish and a new personal best of 8:31.09.

Trippas realised that he needed to try and get the qualifying time to keep his dream alive, and searched for more races to compete in.

He returned to the United States, where he has been attending Princeton University. Trippas raced in another event and again bet his personal best, slicing a handy five minutes off, with a time of 8:26.25.

Back on the plane, Trippas headed to France where things didn’t go too well for the steeplechaser, recording a finish time of 8:40.44.

Trippas said he felt someone deflated but needed to reset and refocus his thoughts.

“I felt like I needed some time to train, adjust and reset after arriving in Europe – it felt like my best chance was going to be a race as late as possible, so I decided to go all-in,” Trippas said.

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Two or so weeks passed when word started to emerge that Trippas would give it one last shot in Spain.

Come time for the event to begin, and Trippas was there, sporting his Bankstown Athletics singlet.

Competing alongside him was Australian Ben Buckingham, but Trippas had the finish line in mind and began passing all the athletes. He tore up the track to finish not only smashing his personal best but beat the Olympic qualifying time with 8:19.60.

His time was the third-best of any Australian in the 3000m steeplechase, and Trippas made sure that his parents were the first to find out about what he just achieved.

“Once the time got announced I grabbed my phone and ran back to the hotel so I could get WiFi and I called my parents crying because it was such a special moment,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be in this position without my parents and family who have been along for the ride via FaceTime and have without hesitation said yes to support whatever I needed to qualify.”

The trip to Spain and the travel quite literally around the globe was all worth it.

Trippas said at the conclusion of the event that him putting everything into perspective was the key driver to keep him composed throughout the race.

“I didn’t really feel pressure because I would either run the qualifying time or miss it and still finish the season with a good PB and momentum heading into next year – probably sitting on a beach in Europe for a few days enjoying myself,” he said.

Trippas began running the steeplechase when he was 15, and within two years recorded a time of 5:55 in the 2000m steeple. In his first 3000m steeple only a few months later, he achieved a time of 9:04.

He joins Buckingham and Matthew Clarke to form the trio competing at Tokyo 2020. The first round of the 3000m steeplechase will begin on July 30 at 10am AEST.

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