Olympic track and field trials and Paris Hilton...

On the Upcoming USA Olympic Trials

Though readers of this blog know different, some Americans like to joke that Track and Field only exists every fourth summer. Ha Ha. That’s a good one. Pardon me while I gnash my teeth.

The Olympic Trials will begin on 21 June in Eugene, Oregon, the track capital of the USA. The first three finishers in each event will make it to the Olympic Games in London in August, provided each has met the qualifying standard set by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), a bunch of rich aristocrats whose grip on power would make some third-world dictators blush. But I digress. Here are some of the plot lines for this year’s trials... 

On the men’s side … Who will make the team in the sprints? Justin Gatlin is back from a drug suspension, Tyson Gay is recovering well from injury, but no one appears to be a candidate to beat back Usain Bolt … Who will Nick Symmonds take to the trials? Marketing himself as a hunk, the 800-meter runner has taken the unusual step of asking Mr. Hilton if he might escort his daughter, Paris, to the trials. No word yet from Daddy Dear. I wish I could say, “score one for traditional values,” but at least it is not what you normally hear …

What will happen in the 1500-meters run? Usually they are slow affairs, no one wanting to go out too hard only to fail to make the team at the end. So the finishes are usually “fast and furious.” Will Matt Centrowitz join his father as an Olympian? Will Andrew Wheating make the team in the 800-meters or the 1500-meters? Lots of other worthy candidates in the 15 … Who will make the team in the distances? Watch for Galen Rupp, a favorite son of Oregon, whose tall and lanky strides eat up lots of turf with each step. If the pollen count in Eugene is high, it might hamper Rupp who often races with a breathe-rite patch on his nose. He has asthma …

In the high hurdles, David Oliver appears to have peaked two years ago. His thigh muscles are also huge and his rise to prominence was also sudden. Will he get caught? Drug cheats appear to be able to stay one step ahead of the enforcers … Will anyone challenge Jesse Williams in the high jump? … Can Brad Walker regain his form in the pole vault? … Can Dwight Phillips continue to dominate competition in the U.S.? … 

Will someone break up the big three in the shot put? Reese Hoffa, Adam Nelson and Christian Cantwell have taken turns being the best in the world for the last few years. Many think that Ryan Whiting is the best bet to challenge the three and Nelson seems to be the most likely to fall. Cantwell is a huge behemoth, weighing around 340lbs and standing six and a half feet tall.

America boasts the three best decathletes in the world: Bryan Clay, who has Olympic gold and silver medals and is trying to make his third U.S. team; Trey Hardee, last year’s world champion; or young Ashton Eaton, another favorite son of Oregon, who had the best score last year and ranked second behind Hardee. Will all three make the team? If they didn’t, it would be an upset.

On the women’s side … Will Carmelita Jeter get caught for using performance-enhancing drugs? She is the world’s top female sprinter and her rise to prominence was quick and her leg muscles are ridiculously large. Hard for me to believe she’s clean … What events will Allison Felix run? The 200-meters and/or the 400-meters? … Will Sanya Richards-Ross continue her return to form after marriage and several injuries? And what will she wear when she runs the final? Her fashion sense makes her the heir of Florence Griffith-Joyner, minus the long fingernails and the flowing locks … 

Who will make the team in the 1500-meter run? Jenny Simpson won the World Championships last year though Morgan Uceny was considered the better bet going into the final. Unfortunately, an African runner tripped and rolled and Uceny fell over her and was unable to catch up. She did recover well enough to rank number one in the world at that distance for the entire season. There are other women who are nearly as good as Simpson and Uceny. If you want to see a look of pure surprise and joy, check out Jenny Simpson’s reaction to her victory on YouTube. Delightful … 

If any female runner is to emerge as an American darling, Shalene Flanagan might be the one to do it. She has the combination of good looks and talent in the long-distance races … Will Lolo Jones be able to make the team? … How high will Chaunte Lowe jump in the high jump? … What color will Jenn Suhr’s hair be as she tries to make the team in the vault? …  

David Wegener

David is an ordained Teaching Elder (Pastor) in the Central Indiana Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. He currently lives in Lusaka, Zambia with his wife, Terri, and serves as the dean of the Seminary at the African Christian University. He is a career missionary with Mission to The World in Zambia.

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Comments

Definitely looking forward to the men's 5km. This year it seems that Lagat, Lomong, Rupp and Ritz (one of Rupp's training partners) are all in sub 13 shape, something never heard of before. And this is without the injured Chris Solinsky. Yet only 3 will get through...

Will it be a slow affair, left to those with the strongest kick? Or will someone set a sub-13 pace and make it a real race? I hope it's the latter. I also hope that Ritz can make the team since he finished 4th in the marathon.

In more recent news, Dwight Phillips is injured and won't be able to compete so the long jump is wide open.

Bryan Clay won't be on the USA Olympic Team as a decathlete. At the end of the first day of competition, Clay was in third place (behind Eaton and Hardee). However, earlier today (the second day of competition), he was disqualified from the high hurdles giving him a score of 0 for that event. And he fouled three times in the discus (also giving him a score of 0 for that event), effectively ending any chance that he will be able to finish in the top three.

Meanwhile, Ashton Eaton is leading and doing very, very well, and should win it all, barring some mishap. He had a monster first day and his long jump distance (27'0") could well have won the open long jump.

Galen Rupp, followed by two other Oregon-based runners, won the 10,000 meter-run. It was nice to see Dathan Ritzenhein finish in third. He failed to make the USA team in the Marathon in the trials held several months ago in Houston. All three top finishers broke 27:37.

The last lap of the women's 10,000 produced some fireworks. Several runners took the lead and then lost it, with Amy Hastings being the eventual winner. Nice to see a girl cry after winning.

Yes, still waiting to see the video of the men's 10k but great for Ritz. Rupp is looking like a genuine bronze medal contender for the 10k. Crazy to think that a white kid is currently besting many of the top Kenyans and Ethiopians.

Can't wait for the 5k finals. Lagat, Rupp, Lomong, Teg, Ritz (and Torrence also). Which 3 won't be on the team? I think its going to be Lagat, Rupp and Lomong. Unless Ritz really is in 12:56 shape as he's suggested.

>>Nice to see a girl cry after winning.

In the UK trials here today two girls cried and that was even in the (manly) women's 100m. 

 

Ashton Eaton completed the second day of the decathlon (five events on each day) and is now the new world record holder in the event. He became the second man in history to break the 9000 point barrier, breaking the record of Roman Sebrle (of the Czech Republic) by 13 points.

On the first day, Eaton ran the 100-meter dash faster than it has ever been run in a decathlon (10.21 seconds) and he long jumped farther than any man has ever done in a decathlon (27'). He also ran the 400-meter dash in 46.70 seconds in a pouring rain to finish out the first day. Ashton beat Trey Hardee by over 650 points. Amazing.

In the two other finals, Lolo Jones qualified for the Olympics by finishing in 3rd in the women's 100-meter high hurdles and Carmelita Jeter won the women's 100-meter dash.

The men's 100-meter dash went according to form. Justin Gatlin won with Tyson Gay in second. Hard to say if Justin can challenge the Jamaicans. Bolt was beat in the Jamaican Olympic Trials by Yohan Blake. Either of those two are the favorites.

America is pretty weak in the 200 meters. LaShawn Merritt won the 400-meter. He's got to be the favorite going into the games.

Nick Symmonds won the 800 meters but Paris didn't show, though it seems they've had some contact in the recent past.

The men's 1500-meter run also went according to form, with Oregon runners Matt Centrowitz and Andrew Wheating finishing 2-3. Lopez Lomong, born in Mexico, but an American citizen, won the race in a faster than normal time, 3:35.

Galen Rupp won both the 5,000 and the 10,000 meter runs, so he is now the new face of American long distance running.

David Oliver didn't make the team in the high hurdles. Jesse Williams barely scraped by to go to London. Brad Walker won the pole vault in the rain, but his height was very low. Dwight Philips was injured and so he won't be able to defend his title.

I've already commented about the triumph and amazing world record of Ashton Eaton. He goes to London as the favorite.

Carmelita Jeter (appropriately for a sprinter, it's pronounced jet-er, not jeet-er) won the 100 meter dash on the women's side but that wasn't the real story.

Two women, Allison Felix and Janeba Tarmoh, finished in a dead heat for third in that race. The United States Track and Field Federation didn't have a plan in place to decide who will race in the Games.

This was a little embarrassing but it doesn't happen very often. It was either going to be a coin flip or a run off. They opted for the latter which was supposed to take place today, but Tarmoh conceded and so Felix will run in the race.

The two young women are friends and training partners and coached by the same man. Both will be on the team and go to London and should be on the 4x100 meter relay team, barring injury. Felix will run the 100-meters and Tarmoh will not (again, barring an injury between now and then).

Allison won the 200-meter dash and Sanya Richards-Ross made the team in that event and won the 400-meters. 

The three favorites will go to London in the 1500-meters. Chaunte Lowe won the High Jump and Brittney Reese won the Long Jump, as expected. Jen Suhr won the Pole Vault with black hair.

How many medals will the American men and women win in London. The former head of the USATF set 30 as the goal before he was fired. Thirty is still the goal but the new head is back pedaling a bit.

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