Monday, July 7

Olympic Trials, Part 3

Day Three - Sunday, June 29

There were a couple of highlights on this first Sunday of the Trials. The first was the men's pole vault. Though I am the chief high jump official at this met, I officiate about as much pole vault as I do high jump. So I always watch those events (as well as the combined events, which I do quite a bit as well) with special interest. The best vaulter in the world over the past couple of years has been Brad Walker. In fact, he set an American record of 19' 9 3/4" here in Eugene just a month or so ago. But he just finished third at the Trials. The real story was Jeff Hartwig, who finished second. Jeff (pictured) lives and trains in Jonesboro, AR and held the American record until Walker broke it. I have worked with Jeff (and Derek Miles, who won the event) several times over the past few years. One interesting thing about Jeff is that he collects and raises snakes. He has over 200 of them. And an amazing thing is that he is 40 years old and still vaulting over 19' and making the Olympic team.

The other highlight was the men's 100 meter dash final. When we left Tyson Gay, he had finished an eventful Saturday with almost failing to advance out of the preliminaries and then setting an American record of 9.77 seconds in the quarterfinals. The world record was set just a few weeks ago at 9.72 seconds by Ussain Bolt of Jamaica. Tyson responded on Sunday. When the gun went off, he left the field behind. Over 20,000 fans rose to their feet and gave an audible gasp when the time flashed on the scoreboard - 9.68 seconds! Unfortunately, there was too much wind so it didn't count as a world record. But it was the fastest time ever run in any conditions!

Our high jump crew ran the decathlon high jump on Sunday. I really enjoy combined event athletes (decathlon and heptathlon). They tend to be very laid back and very supportive of one another. It is more of a competition against themselves and the event rather than against one another.

Day Four - Monday, June 30

We began the "open" high jump events on June 30. About 24-26 athletes are allowed into each of the field events and they go through two rounds of competition. On this day, we had the women's qualifying. The 26 jumpers were divided into two groups who jumped simultaneously at the same heights. The competition continues until the field gets down to about 12 athletes and then we quit. Those 12 (plus ties) then come back a couple of days later for the final and we start the competition again. The event went smoothly and everyone who should have advanced did.

The decathlon also finished on Monday, with Bryan Clay (pictured) winning another national championship and finishing with the second highest total in US history. Clay isn't your typical decathlete. He is about 5'10" where most of the better ones in the world are 6'3" or 6'4". But he is a great thrower and works hard at all of the events. Trey Hardee finished second and Tom Pappas finishing third.

Lastly, the men's 800 meters was an exciting raise, especially in this atmosphere. It had a decidedly Oregon flair to it as it was won by Nick Symmonds (who went to an NCAA Div. III school out here) in his usual "come-from-behind" style. But right behind him was Andrew Wheating, a sophomore at Oregon who has come out of nowhere over the past couple of months to make the Olympic team. Then here were two men diving for the finish line and the third spot. It went to Christian Smith who went to Kansas State but now lives and trains in Eugene. Needless to say, the crowd went nuts at the end of the race.

No comments: