Deng carries hopes of making Olympics

The senior will try to represent one of two countries at Rio over the summer.

Ryan Falk

Senior Goaner Deng has had a strong season in the 800-meter run, and it might continue into the summer.
 
 
Deng will attempt to make the United States track and field team for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but if he doesn’t succeed, he will try to make South Sudan’s team.
 
 
Deng won’t be the only Gophers athlete to try out for the Olympics in Rio this summer.
 
 
Senior Sean Donnelly and junior Luca Wieland will also try to make the Olympics.
 
 
“Our program has a good training environment for athletes to reach high levels,” head coach Steve Plasencia said. 
 
 
Donnelly and Wieland have their eyes set on representing their home countries, but Deng has the opportunity to try out for multiple countries given his family history.
 
 
Deng was born in Nairobi, Kenya,  after his parents left then-Sudan. His family later moved to the United States when he was 2 years old. 
 
 
He came in second in the event twice this outdoor season, setting a personal record at the Sun Angel Classic with a time of 1:46.81. 
 
 
The United States standard to qualify in the 800 meters is 1.46.00 flat.
 
 
Deng would need to shave some time off his personal best to qualify for Team USA but said he is optimistic about his ability. 
 
 
“I’m as confident as ever,” Deng said. “Coming off a good season, I have a burning desire to finish off my career as a Gopher at the top level.”
 
 
Deng has been getting ready for the trials since the beginning of the season, writing down his goals and placing reminders in his locker or bedroom and putting in extra training. 
 
 
“Coach [Plasencia] trains me to be at the top,” Deng said. “We need to train so we peak and be at our best performance at the Big Ten Outdoor tournament and the NCAA tournament and again in July.”