EUGENE, Oregon — If ever there were two people who epitomized the term #couplegoals, it would be 800 runners and track stars Athing Mu and Brandon Miller.
At least that’s the way it’s seen by Mu, the Olympic gold medalist who on Thursday advanced to the 800 women’s semifinals of the world track and field championships at Hayward Field.
“Oh my god guys, stop it,” she said, pretending to shy away when asked about her relationship with Miller, an 800 runner she met when both were at Texas A&M. Then she giggled before entertaining numerous questions about him.
“That’s my short king,” said Mu proudly, who at 5-foot-10 towers over Miller, who checks in at 5-8. (Yes, she still wears heels around him. It doesn’t bother either of them.)
SPORTS NEWSLETTER: Get the latest news and analysis in your inbox
SHOT PUT DOMINANCE: Americans pull off historic podium sweep at track world championships
It’s not the first time she gushed about her man to the media.
After Mu cruised to the 800 USA Outdoor title in June and Miller held on to finish third in his race, both solidifying their spots on Team USA, Mu again took time to brag about her guy.
“I’m glad we could be here making our first world team together,” she said in a singsong voice. “I mean, what couple does that?!”
Miller, who finished fifth of his 800 heat Wednesday, did not advance in his first major world championship. But the Texas A&M star was in the stands Thursday, cheering on Mu.
Miller is still competing collegiately. Mu, who dazzled in Tokyo with a win in the 800 in a blistering 1:51.21, has turned pro. She’s still based in Texas, which means they train together occasionally. (Both won NCAA titles at TAMU.) They’ve been dating since last August, getting together shortly after Mu returned from Japan.
Miller has previously told the media about Mu, “when I tell you she is so strong — she runs before you and if her rep is fast it’s like, ‘Awww, dang, now I gotta go fast too!’”
But no, they don’t race each other.
“I would beat him,” she said with a (fake) dramatic sigh, “and he might be heartbroken about that.”
Their relationship is frequently displayed on social media, where their combined 168,000-plus Instagram followers — Mu is responsible for 154,000 of those — are treated regularly to adorable photos that have drawn praise from other track standouts. When Mu and Miller posted photos in their Team USA uniforms and 800 men’s and women’s schedules, none other than track queen Allyson Felix commented “y’all are too cute!”
Said Kara Goucher, an NBC commenter and long-time U.S. distance standout: “People eat that stuff up — and Athing knows it.”
They might not compete with each other on the track, but Mu said there are plenty of other ways they try to get the best of one another.
“It’s literally everything we do,” she said. “Like, who gets ready faster? We practice at the same time but drive our own cars and so we don’t say this but in our minds it’s like, ‘He or she isn’t beating me to practice.’ It keeps our relationship fun.”
They’re both endlessly ambitious, too, and don’t think of themselves only as runners. It’s part of why they work together.
“If I’m like, ‘Oh I want to go model, I want to be a race car driver,’ he’s like, ‘Oooh, I want to be an astronaut, I want to be a TV spokesperson.’ We’re not setting any limits on ourselves,” Mu said.
However, no relationship is perfect. There’s another guy trying to weasel his way in.
It was Bentley, Mu’s pug, and not Miller, who made an appearance in a recent People magazine spread featuring Mu. It sounds like Miller is determined to change that.
Said Mu: “They’re fighting for the spotlight right now.”