Friday, July 4

Olympic Trials, Part 2

The US Olympic Trials schedule is modeled after the Olympic Games, so they stretch over ten days - four days of competition, two day break, and four more days of competition. They are also being broadcast every day on either USA or NBC. Hopefully, you are watching them! But if you're not, here are some of the highlights of what you've missed...

Day One - Friday, June 27

Day One is mostly qualifying and preliminary rounds. Our high jump crew had the women's heptathlon event. And in the 5,000 meters, one of the guys from my track Bible study ran. James Strang didn't advance to the finals, but ran well. Plus it is just a thrill for any athlete to be a part of this competition.

The highlight of Day One was the women's 10,000 meter final. It seems strange to think that a 6.2 mile race was exciting and a highlight, but this definitely was! And it was so exciting because of the woman who finished in third place - Amy Yoder Begley, a former Razorback.

One thing you have to understand is that it takes more than just a top-three finish at the Trials to go to the Olympics. You also have to have the Olympic qualifying standard. It is possible for someone to finish in the top three and not go to the Games - or for someone who finished behind them but has the Olympic standard from an earlier meet to go in their place. Amy didn't have the qualifying standard coming in to the race and, though she had third place pretty well assured early on, her trip to China was in question. But she ran an incredibly fast last lap, with 20,000 people on their feet cheering her on, and collapsed across the finish line. She made the qualifying mark by less than two seconds. It was the most exciting distance race I've seen.

Day Two - Saturday, June 28

One Day Two, the women's heptathlon ended with Hyleas Fountain (pictured) dominating the field. The fun part about this event is that most of the athletes I've known for a few years, including all of our Olympic team. In fact, the third place finisher and her twin sister used to come to Fayetteville from Texas as high school students to compete.

But the men's 100 meter dash provided most of the fireworks. In the first round, defending world champion Tyson Gay (another former Razorback) misjudged which line was the finish line and pulled up too soon, almost failing to advance. But he came back in the next round to run a new American record of 9.77 seconds. I've always liked Tyson. He is not the stereo-typical sprinter. He is quiet and humble and polite. And very fast.

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