Monday, June 25, 2012

Talking Trials: Justin Gatlin gets it done and Women's 100 tie is resolved

It was take your kid to work day as Justin Gatlin
was in 2004 form in Eugene
(photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
This is the fourth installment of "Talking Trials." There will be more to come every day during the 2012 USA Olympic Track and Field Trials from Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene, OR. Full results for the trials are here.

It was a day full of finals in Eugene as multiple field events, plus the Men's and Women's 400 meters and the Men's 100 meters would be selecting their teams for London. Many familiar faces stood atop the podium at the end of the day, but new stars emerged and some old stars faltered, as the agony and ectacy of an Olympic berth on the line was on full display.

The Men's 400 was up first, and in no surprise to anyone, former ECU Pirate, LaShawn Merritt took the win in a world leading time of 44.12. In second, Tony McQuay showed off his new threads in an excellent 44.49. In the prelims, McQuay wore his Florida kit, but signed a few papers somewhere in between that the final and would now be part of the Adidas team. The third spot was where things got exciting. 2004 Gold Medalist Jeremy Wariner would have a rough day and would only finish sixth. This would pave the way for former high school star, Bryshon Nellum, to finish third at get the final spot for London. It's been quite a journey for Nellum as he was shot in both legs in a drive-by in 2008 and has been slowly recovering over the past few years, while running for USC. A great story of perseverance!

Wariner crouched on the track in disbelief after
failing to make his third Olympic team, but 
will be in the pool for the 4x400 relay
(Photo: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
The Women's 400 was the Sanya Richards show as she continued her excellent season and would tie Chandra Cheeseborough's 1984 Olympic Trials record of 49.28. Behind her would be Dee Dee Trotter and Francena McCorory, all running 50.43 or below. Debbie Dunn was fourth in 50.78 to round out the 4x400 relay team.

The final event on the track would be the Men's 100 meters. Was Tyson Gay ready after running only one race this season? The field was stacked and Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, would get out strong and run a personal best to take the title in 9.80, which was .05 faster than the 9.85 he won Athens in. Gay would be second in a very fast 9.86; a time that was the World Record (set by Carl Lewis) in 1991. The third and final spot would go to Salem, OR native Ryan Bailey. He looked great in the heats and proved it was no fluke as he crossed the line in 9.93, more importantly, booking his trip to London. Walter Dix ran only 10.95 after pulling up lame in the semifinal. Hopefully he'll get some work done and will make it back for the 200 prelims on Friday.

After the days events, we got word that USATF had resolved the Allyson Felix/Jeneba Tarmoh tie situation. What would happen is they both would be give the option of a coin toss or a run-off. If both choose same, that option is used at the tiebreaker. If they disagree, the tie is broken by a run-off. This seems fair to me and will be used as the tie-breaking method going forward. What if it were to happen in the 5000?

Brooks Foam fingers
On the social front, the group keeps getting bigger for the 9am Brooks/Flotrack group run. Today we were joined by Neely Spence, as she comes back from injury, and Kevin Hanson (of the Hanson Brooks Distance Project), as we did a nice out and back 8 miler down the Amazon Trail (and bumped into Ryan and Sara Hall along the way). 

After the meet, I interviewed former NC A&T sprinter Calesio Newman for an article in the Greensboro News & Record and learned that his lane and heat were changed three times within 30 minutes of his race. There's always something going on behind the scenes that makes you scratch your head.

Later in the day, Brooks had a nice cookout at the fraternity house they're renting that resides a few footsteps from Hayward Field. They've been great hosts thus far and have some cool posters and signs for their athletes (I'll get photos and post the next time I get over there).

Later in the evening, a few fellow Carolina alumni hit up the always good Track Town Pizza before heading over to Karaoke night at the Wild Duck Cafe. Lots of competitors were out, but Ryan Bailey was certainly the star of the night, being as he had just qualified for his first Olympic team a few hours earlier. That's the kind of thing we start to become accustomed to, but it never gets old!

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