Archive for the 'Men’s Track and Field' Category

Final Thoughts on Swimming and Trials

The Olympic Trials in the United States’ two most successful sports are complete, and the week was full of fantastic moments. There are few smiles like those of someone who has just become an Olympian, and fans saw dozens of those this week. I won’t lie – more than a few tears trickled down my cheeks when watching the trials. A few disparate thoughts before I go to bed:

– Tyson Gay’s fall in the semis of the 200m broke my heart. First, the manner in which he fell reminded me of when I fell running (very short, very terrible dalliance into the sport) and dislocated my knee (why I stopped.) I was very happy to hear it was not that serious. Secondly, I hate that he won’t be running the 200 for the US. However, I do not think that the misfortune of one man is a reason to change an entire system that quite frankly, works just fine. There are two reasons why the trials for track work. One – the United States is loaded. We have tons of talent. Secondly, track (and swimming for that matter) is an objective sport – who is the fastest. No judges, no degree of difficulty, no petitions or lawsuits. If you run the fastest, you’re in. I have no worries for the United States in track and field. We will do just fine, even with Tyson Gay only running 100m.

– Dara Torres was the cause for many of my tears this week. How could she not be? A 41-year-old mom who is swimming at her best? I tend to believe people, sometimes causing me to be gullible. Pat Forde doubts that Dara has come by her swimming renaissance fairly, and I am embarrassed to say that it never even occurred to me that she didn’t.

– The broadcasts for both swimming and track were very good. The announcers were careful to explain qualifying procedures, back stories, athletes’ accolades and the nuances of each event. The puff pieces were kept to a minimum, but still good. The broadcasts weren’t perfect – the post-event interviews were always a little weird, but still, these broadcasts far outpaced gymnastics.

Now, we wait. Most Olympians have been decided, though some gymnastics team members are still up in the air. The Games kick off in a little more than a month. For now, we can just sit back and enjoy the hype.

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Notes from Swimming and Track Trials: June 29, 2008

Some thoughts from this weekend’s events:

– How often do you see drama in the women’s 10K run? Shalene Flanagan and Kara Goucher were neck and neck until the final straightaway when Flanagan broke away. Amy Begley, the third place finisher, had to step up her run a notch to make sure that her time qualified. When Begley found out that she was going to Beijing, she jumped up and down like a little girl – see why I tell you to watch the trials?

– Congratulations to my classmate at Mizzou, Christian Cantwell. His past two Olympic trials were disappointing to say the least – fouls, lots of fouls – and he qualified for the team with a throw over 71 feet. He is joined on the team by Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson.

– Tyson Gay is one of my favorite track athletes going into Beijing. His record breaking 100m was wind aided, so it won’t go in the record books, but he sent a clear message that he will be a force in Beijing. Gay also showed his respect for history by wearing a uniform reminiscent of Jesse Owen’s uniform from the 1936 “Go F### Yourself, Hitler” Olympics in Munich.

– Michael Phelps is an amazing athlete, and driven as can be. He broke the 400m individual medley WR with friend Ryan Lochte nipping at his heels, and there is no sign that Phelps is going to let up.

– In contrast to Phelps’s cool confidence, Katie Hoff looked shocked when she found out that she broke the world record at the 400m IM.

Dara Torres is profiled in the New York Times, and her training regimen, and the cast of characters she works with, is nothing short of amazing.

– I enjoy Rowdy Gaines calling swimming for the same reasons why I love Ron Santo calling Cubs games. He has the enthusiasm of an uncle cheering on his nephew, but who will also call out his nephew for screwing up.

Try the Trials: Swimming and Track

The final trials for the U.S. Olympic team start this weekend. Swimming begins Sunday and will run through next Sunday in Omaha, Neb. (Side note – the hospitality business is Omaha must be booming. The College World Series just ended Wednesday, and now they are heading right into the Olympic trials.) Track and field runs today through Sunday in Eugene, Ore., where Team Nike USA will be assembled.

Track and Field

With Marion Jones making license plates and Justin Gatlin suing everyone but the CIA to get into the Olympics, USA T&F will have to work hard to shed the doping scandals of the past few years. Luckily, they have Allyson Felix (cue choirs of angels.) This four time world champion and Sunday school teacher is already a heavy favorite to win the 200m. Tyson Gay, running the 100m and the 200m, is the world champion in both events. Gay isn’t just looking for gold here, he wants to break the world records. In field events, Adam Nelson, a silver medalist in Sydney and Athens in the shotput, will compete against Christian Cantwell, a graduate of the best school on Earth, ever, for the spot. Jen Stuczynski has a shot at breaking the pole vault world record. (Sorry, boys, Allison Stokke will not be there.) Track and field trials will air on NBC and USA starting at midnight tonight, or tomorrow morning on USA.

Swimming

One of the things that I love about swimming is that the sport knows no age. Unlike gymnastics, where women are over the hill when they can buy themselves a Bud Light, swimmers can excel when they are 18 or 38. Remember Michael Phelps? As if you could forget him and his six gold medals. Over the seven days of trials, he will only have one day off. Now, a mature 22 year old, Phelps will try to repeat his herculean feat of 2004. As impressive as Phelps is, my heartstrings are much more tugged by Dara Torres, who made her Olympic debut in 1984. She has four gold and four bronze medals, and at age 41, is trying to make the Olympic team once again as a freestyler. Swimming television coverage starts Sunday at 8 ET on NBC, and will continue on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday on USA at 8 ET.

Linky McLinkerson: Good Morning

43 days until the Olympics!

Justin Gatlin Continues Fight to Run

Justin Gatlin, who was banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for having two dirty drug tests, continued his court fight today in his hometown of Pensacola, Fla. Gatlin is suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act because the banned substances he was found to be taking in his first failed test was supposed to treat his ADD. For that offense, Gatlin received a two-year suspension, and signed an agreement that if he screwed up again, he would receive a lifetime ban. When he failed another test, he was banned, but now he is suing because he was discriminated against in the first offense. Follow all that?

Gatlin has already been granted a temporary injunction that will allow him to run at the trials, which will be held in Eugene, Ore. this weekend. However, if Gatlin qualifies for the team, the IOC will still probably not let him run, so this might be a colossal waste of time and money.

Cuba Hurdler Breaks World Record; Sets Up Communist Catfight

I’m sitting at O’Hare Airport, waiting to head out to Las Vegas for the Judo and Wrestling Trials. Before I board, I had to point out some an exciting development in the 110 m hurdles. Cuba’s Dayton Robles won the 110 at the Golden Spike Invitational in 12.87, besting China’s Liu Xiang by one one thousandth of a second. This sets up one hell of a race in Beijing. Both athletes will have the hopes of their respective nations on their shoulders. They will also be charged with proving who has the better Communism. China may have more than a billion people, an official cheer, and a healthy trade relationship with the United States, but Cuba has some damn good cigars. Hmmm. So close. I will wait until the 110 hurdles in Beijing to decide which one truly would make Lenin smile.

Linky McLinkerson – 57 Days Until the Games Start!

Sorry for my enthusiastic use of exclamation points. Sometimes when the spirit moves me, I must use them.

  • Lately, it feels like I’m writing for Law Review, not an Olympics blog. Justin Gatlin, a gold medalist in Athens, is suing to compete in the Olympic Trials. Gatlin was banned for four years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for using Adderall, a medication he claims is to control his ADD. The lawsuit claims that the ban is a violation of the American with Disabilities Act.
  • I have a feeling that we are going to become huge Allyson Felix fans. The Sunday school teacher won three golds at the 2007 World Championships. Sports Illustrated has a profile on her and her father, a preacher. My favorite line from the story: When she speaks of her faith, she doesn’t come across as an athlete who blindly attributes a winning shot or lucky punch to a higher power, but as one whose lifestyle choices have ennobled her to achieve them.
  • From ennobling to noble – the Queen of England’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips, will not compete in the Olympics because her horse, was injured. The same thing happened in the 2004 Olympics – same horse. Zara, I assume you have the money. Did you ever think of getting another horse for competition, and using Toytown to tromp around the countryside? Just an idea.
  • Sports Illustrated reports that Coach K and the other men’s basketball head honchos decide that tryouts are not so necessary, and they will announce the team by the end of the month.
  • Finally, poor Nick D’ Arcy. The Australian swimmer was kicked off the Aussies’ Beijing squad after getting in a bar fight and giving some guy a broken jaw, broken nose, fractured eye socket, crushed cheekbone and fractured palate. I have no idea why the Australian authorities are so prickly!