I have the honor of serving as an official at this summer's USA Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR. This is the third Trial's that I have worked and it is always a privilege that I don't take lightly. It is an opportunity to help select our Olympic team. Also, there is no better meet in the US than the Olympic Trials and, if you are a track and field fan, you owe it to yourself to attend at least one. But I also don't take this lightly because there are a lot of very dedicated and qualified officials - many of them good friends of mine whom I respect as great officials - who don't get the chance to be here.
If you haven't been keeping up with the Trials, here are a few of the highlights from the first four days. The photos come from a variety of online sources, including the Oregonian and Track and Field News.
Places and Standards - I want to make a distinction that often confuses those don't work in track and field on a regular basis. The common understanding is that the athletes who finish in the top three places in an event will represent the US at the Olympics in London. But that is only true if they hold the necessary Olympic "A" qualifying mark in their event. In some cases, an athlete may finish in the top three but have to stay home. For instance, in the women's 10,000 meters, the athletes who finished first, fourth, and seventh here in Eugene will go to London. The second-place finisher does not have the "A" standard and the third-place finisher (who does have the "A" standard) will run the marathon instead of the 10,000 in London. The women who finished fourth and seventh are highest placers with the "A" standard.
this interview from Sports Illustrated with my friends Roger Jennings and Bob Podkaminer. It will explain the whole scenario in more detail and it is really interesting.
Come-backs, Young Guns, and the Women's Vault - Sunday found a lot of exciting competition in both track and field. On the track, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay finished one and two in the men's 100 meter dash. This was a comeback for both of them. Six years ago, Gatlin began a four-year suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. On Sunday, he won a US Championship, a spot in the London Olympics by running as fast (or faster) than he ever has. Tyson, who finished second, did it in just his fourth race back after having hip surgery and not running for almost a year. He should be in even better condition when the Olympics come around. In the men's long jump, "youngsters" Will Claye and Marquis Grissom battled back and forth with Claye grabbing the lead on his final jump only to see Grissom take it back on the very next jump. Both men are great pressure jumpers. Finally, Sunday also had the women's pole vault final. Three women with ties to the Razorbacks were entered. Katie Stripling Tannehill no-heighted while Janice Keppler tied for ninth and April Steiner Bennett (who make the 2008 Olympic team) tied for fifth.