LAWRENCE (KSNT) – Bryce Hoppel capped off his record-setting career at KU with a trip to the Olympics.
“It still doesn’t feel real to say,” Hoppel said. “I’m just going along with it.”
He earned Big 12 Championship titles, national titles and set the facility record almost everywhere he raced.
“What more can I do? And I think Bryce has done that every single year,” Michael Whittlesey, Hoppel’s coach, said. “Every opportunity he’s found to be successful, he’s like ‘What’s next? What more work should I do?'”
Now, Hoppel’s earned the title of Olympian for the Men’s 800m. The trials were not like every other meet, though. Hoppel strained his quad just a few weeks before heading to Eugene, Oregon.
“That was my first injury ever, so for it to happen right before the trials was like ‘what?!’” Hoppel said.
He worked with his athletic trainer every day, sometimes twice a day.
“We just loosened it up enough to make sure that it wasn’t going to tear, then we were good,” he said.
Bryce made it through the first round and semifinals, to finish third in the final round. He finished the final race in 1:44.14. It was his fastest time of the weekend.
“What really worked for him is his competitiveness, and his effectiveness to execute our race plan and compete against the best,” Whittlesey said.
The break between trials and the Olympics is usually a time for athletes to make adjustments and take it easy, but not for Hoppel.
“He’s healthier,” Whittlesey said. “We can start doing some faster work that we missed going into the trials.”
He actually has one more race on July 9 in Monaco.
“That one will actually be really cool because it’s honestly kind of like an Olympic final preview,” Hoppel said. “It’s like, all the really good guys, so I’m excited to do that one; kind of get a little sneak peak at the competition.”
Hoppel leaves for Tokyo July 24. His first race is July 30 around 7:30 p.m. CST.