Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Talking Trials Final Report: Tarmoh-geddon, A Tale of Two Fourths and that Men's 1500

Jeneba Tarmoh hugs Allyson Felix after the 200
(all photos: TrackAndFieldPhoto)
What a week (and a half)! The 2012 Olympic Track and Field Trials have now come and gone and were filled with highs for some and lows for others, but an overabundance of excitement for all; on and off the track. Here are my final thoughts in eleventh and final edition of "Talking Trials." Full results for the trials are here.

When I woke up this morning, I heard ESPN's Mike and Mike (and again at lunch on the Jim Rome Show) discussing the Jeneba Tarmoh forfeit to Allyson Felix, and how could someone give up the once-in-every-four-years opportunity to be an Olympian. I'm not quite sure, but I respect Ato Boldon and his explanation that Tarmoh was just too exhausted physically and mentally to go through with it. Seems plausible, but I'll always think there is something else there. As I mentioned on Twitter last night, I believe Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated's final article on the topic is where we should leave it. And then I watched Tarmoh's interview on SportsCenter. Mind boggling. Watch that race again.

A Tale of Two Fourths
Aside from my coverage here at writing about running, I covered local athletes for the Charlotte Observer, the Greensboro News & Record and the Raleigh News & Observer at the trials. Two of those athletes finished in the first spot that you don't want to finish at the trials, fourth.

Calesio Newman starts his run
towards the 200 final
For Greensboro's Calesio Newman, fourth was a huge jump in his career. He had failed to make the 100 meter final earlier in the week and would bounce back and look excellent through the rounds. When the 200 meter final came, he looked great. He would have a tough road ahead, starting out of lane eight, with eventual champion, Wallace Spearmon and 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, Shawn Crawford, starting in lanes six and seven, respectively, using him as a personal rabbit. He would run the race of his life. That race would prove to be a mere .01 seconds off of his first Olympic team. He was the slowest out of the blocks and looked over about 10 meters too early at the finish. A tough day, but no one expected him to compete for the spot, so he had something to smile about. Read my final piece in the Greensboro News & Record on him here and watch part of my interview with him hereWatch the Men's 200 meter final here

For former Charlottean and NC State standout Julia Lucas, fourth was a bit tougher. In the Women's 5000 meter final Monday night, Lucase mad a strong move with three laps to go and looked to have the win in the bag. That changed with a lap to go. She slowed and would be passed by Julie Culley and American Record Holder, Molly Huddle, with 200 meters to go. It looked like she would hang onto the third and final Olympic spot. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be the case, as a hard charging Kim Conley would nip her at the line by .04 seconds. Despite the tough loss, Lucas answered questions for over ten minutes and faced her disappointment head on. It was incredible to watch and I take my hat off to anyone with that kind of toughness that makes a move like she did, have it backfire, and then standby it. Watch the agonizing race here.

Leo Manzano outkicks Centro down the stretch
That Men's 1500
The toughest team to make had to be the Men's 1500 meters. From the gun, it was exciting. The Jordan McNamara-Will Leer-John Mickowski plan of attack to try and get the Olympic A Standard almost worked, but they would have had to beat an excellent crowd to make the team; standard or no standard. In the end, the cream rose to the top with the year in, year out, world team lock, Leo Manzano, pushing by Matt Centrowitz in the last 50 meters to take the title and Andrew Wheating doing the same to Robby Andrews for that third final spot. It was a sea of carnage at the finish and Andrews was the face to pure exhaustion as he had to be helped off the track and then back to the warm up area. David Torrence was in second with 100 meters to go and would fade to sixth. That was just a very hard team to make. I wonder how many will drop down to the 800 or move up to the Steeplechase or the 5000 for next year's World Championships in Moscow. Watch the 1500 Final here.

Amy "Hasty" Hastings
The Eugene Scene
The town was electric for the trials. I met so many great people that it would be impossible to list them all. The people inside, outside and around the sport are some of the most interesting and introspective people I've ever met. I had the fun of meeting lots of great writers, athletes, shoe company employees and of course, the two groups that have helped every track and field fan see more of sport in real time, Flotrack and RunnerSpace. Both of these groups work relentlessly and quite frankly, I don't know how they have the energy to do it. I'm happy they do. Some highlights from talks with athletes were speaking to Lauren Fleshman and Matt Scherer late Saturday night about the sponsor game, speaking with Amy Hastings about her breakthrough and of course, hanging with my old friend Steve Edwards and the 3 Non Joggers, while his wife, Shalane Flanagan, ran the 10,000. 

I truly hope that the trials come back to Eugene, as it was easy to navigate everywhere and was very reasonable financially. Not to mention, a packed house of knowledgeable track and field fans every day. I was unsure if I'd understand all of the field events, but Kevin Sully of the House of Run podcast, educated me on them and I thoroughly enjoyed the nuances the exciting atomosphere that the fans loved. I fully expect this team to well in London and can't wait to watch them try.

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1 comment:

  1. That's BS! Something fishy going on. I would never give it up. Tarmoh still thinks she won it the first time cause her name was announced before they realized their times were the same and photo finishes were same. They have the same coach and he was a big issue in the process too. They could of had the run off earlier, before the 200m finals. Tarmoh said she was tired and exhausted. It's the olympics, you get over it and fight for your spot! Their sprinters, their races are over in less than 30 sec. Don't tell me they could't of ran a fast 100 a couple days after a 200 when they're used to going through days of heats to even get to the finals