DES MOINES, Iowa — Before many of the world’s best track and field athletes represented their countries in Tokyo, their paths brought them to Drake Stadium’s Blue Oval.
In total, 125 former Drake Relays athletes competed in the Tokyo Olympics. According to Drake Relays director Blake Boldon, they collectively brought home ten gold medals, six silver medals, and eight bronze medals.
“The Drake Relays is Des Moines’ window to the world, and we saw it in full effect this year,” Boldon said.
Gold medalists who previously participated in the Drake Relays include:
- Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico (100-meter hurdles)
- Hansle Parchment of Jamaica (110-meter hurdles)
- Andre De Grasse of Canada (200-meter sprint)
- Katie Nageotte of the United States (pole vault)
- Ryan Crouser of the United States (shot put)
Boldon said Crouser stands out because he competed in the Drake Relays after he won gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Crouser broke world records for the longest shot put throw in both Rio and Tokyo, but found time to rewrite the history books in Des Moines as well.
“Last year, he became the first man to ever throw over 22 meters — that’s 72 feet — all six times in a single competition,” Boldon said. “He did that right here at Drake Stadium.”
The Drake Relays also organized a watch party for Urbandale native Karissa Schweizer as she competed in the 10,000-meter race. The former Drake Relays participant finished 12th at the Olympics.
“Seeing 500 people crowd around a jumbo screen in downtown Des Moines at 5:30 in the morning is pretty exciting,” Boldon said.
It’s unclear if Drake Stadium will host the U.S. Track and Field Championships as it had in 2018 and 2019, but Boldon said the athletes’ performances in Tokyo further cements the legacy of the Blue Oval.
“This is an international destination for the sport of track and field,” Boldon said.