tracktown - Page 18

Sprinters in 400 and 100 Punch Tickets to London

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Day 3 of the US Olympic track & field trials in Eugene consisted completely of finals in a quick afternoon at the track highlighted by some nice stories, including one man’s incredible comeback from an incident that nearly cost him the ability to ever walk again.

LaShawn Merritt (right) hugs Bryshon Nellum (left) after the men’s 400m finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene on Sunday (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

In the men’s 400 final, LaShawn Merritt ran a world best time this year of 44.12 seconds to earn his spot on the Olympic team. Florida’s Tony McQuay finished comfortably in second with a time of 44.49 seconds. USC’s Bryshon Nellum used a late surge in the final meters to also earn a spot on the team with a time of 44.80 seconds, edging out Josh Mance by just one hundredth of a second. Noteworthy in this race was Merritt’s winning time, the fastest in the world so far this year.

“This won’t be my first rodeo,” said Merritt. “I will go in confidently, and I am definitely confident in Tony and Nellum that they can handle this. They came out of college and now they’re with the big dogs…It’s a different mentality to run with someone who can run 44.8 in the first round.”

But what was truly incredible in this race is the comeback story of Bryshon Nellum.

Just three years ago, Nellum was shot in the legs after leaving a party at USC. Doctors told Nellum he would never be able to run world class times again. In those three years, Nellum has fought back to become an Olympian.

“It’s been a long journey for me,” said Nellum. “I finally had a healthy season. It’s a blessing to be able to compete out here.”

On the women’s side, Sanya Richards-Ross won the 400 final in 49.28 seconds. Not only was that a world best time for 2012, but also an Olympic trials record, as well as a new Hayward Field record. Finishing in second in 50.02 seconds was Dee Dee Trotter, while Francena McCorory rounded out the top three with a gutsy finish in 50.43 seconds.

“Today was phenomenal,” said Richards-Ross. “There is something so special in competing at Hayward…It’s a dream come true. You really can’t think about it [Olympics] until you get past this. I’m excited to rep Team USA…I feel like I have one of the best coaches in the world.”

Justin Gatlin (right) celebrates a first place finish over Tyson Gay (left) in the men’s 100m race on Sunday (Robert Deutsch/USA Today)

In the day’s final event, the men’s 100, Justin Gatlin ran a scorching fast time of 9.80 seconds to win the final. American record holder Tyson Gay finished second in 9.86 seconds, while Ryan Bailey snagged the final spot on the team, finishing third in 9.93 seconds.

This race was a bit of a homecoming for Bailey, who won the Oregon state championship title in the 100 while at Douglas McKay High School in Salem.

“I’m truly blessed to be here and run at Hayward,” said Bailey. “Every time I’m here they have great fans. I’m just really happy. I can’t put it into words.”

USA Track & Field has also decided on a ruling on the tie that occurred between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, which is explained below. More info can be found on www.usatf.org, the official website of USATF.

In case of a tie, the following procedure shall be used for breaking a tie for the final qualifying slot in a running-event final in which a U.S. National Team or Olympic Team is being selected:

  1. If either athlete declines his or her position on the National Team/Olympic Team, that athlete will be named the alternate and the other athlete will assume the final available position.
  2. If neither athlete declines their position, they will be given the option to determine the tie-breaker via coin toss or by run-off.

  3. If both athletes choose the same option, that option will be utilized as the tie-breaker.

  4. If the athletes disagree on the tie-breaker, the tie will be broken by a run-off.

  5. If both athletes refuse to declare a preference regarding the method between a run off and coin toss in regards to how the tie is broken, the tie will be broken by coin toss. 

Tomorrow’s events will include finals in the women’s triple jump, men’s high jump, and men’s javelin throw, as well as the men’s and women’s 800.

Ashton Eaton Breaks World Record in Decathlon to Become Greatest Athlete in the World

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Former Oregon Ducks standout Ashton Eaton breaks down after breaking the world record on Saturday.

They call it Historic Hayward Field for two reasons. Not just for the history of the stadium itself, but the historic moments that continue to happen to this day.

On Saturday at Hayward Field, Ashton Eaton wrote another chapter in the storied history of the stadium as he broke the world record in the decathlon with 9,039 points. The former record was 9,026 points, held by Roman Sebrle.

While it had become clear that Eaton would win the decathlon to earn a spot on the US Olympic team, he still had to pull off a personal best performance in the final event, the 1,500 meters, in order to claim the world record. Eaton would need a 4:16.23 for the record.

Eaton maintained a perfect pace throughout the race to put himself in position for the time needed to break the record, surging down the final 100 meters while the roar of the crowd was deafening. He would win the race in 4:14.98, earning 850 points in the event. Joe Detmer and Curtis Beach finished second and third respectively. In a class act, both Detmer and Beach, who were ahead of Eaton, pulled up to let him win the final event, capping off one of the greatest moments not just at Hayward Field, but in the history of track & field.

“It is a representation of all the work I have put in, but also my friends, family support and staff have put in,” said Eaton. “There is not much I can say.”

The day’s events also saw two finals with the women’s 100 hurdles and the women’s 100 meters. In the 100 hurdles, Nike’s Dawn Harper was the first to cross the line in 12.73 seconds. Harper fought off cramps she had been experiencing before the race in order to earn a ticket to London.

“I was pretty relaxed,” said Harper. “The crazy part was I cramped up two or three times before the race. The race came together for sure. It’s a true blessing, knowing all the work I put into it.”

Jones will be a representative for Team USA in London this summer after her qualifying time in the 100 meters.

The race also saw Lolo Jones fighting over the hurdles to lock up the final spot on the Olympic team with a 12.86 second performance. Jones will return to the Olympics for another chance at the medal stand. In 2008, Jones was a gold medal favorite, but tripped over the second-to-last hurdle, finishing seventh in the finals.

“I was filled with doubt and fear,” said Jones. “It’s been a constant uphill battle, and to have the confidence to get through this…I’m just thrilled, thrilled to have another shot.”

The final event of the day turned out to be the most controversial as well. Heavy favorite Carmelita Jeter finished first in 10.92 seconds with Tianna Madison close behind in second at 10.96 seconds. But the real story of the race was what happened with third place. In a photo finish, Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix were the next to cross the line. After looking at the finish line photos, officials credited Tarmoh with the win, edging out Felix by one thousandth of a second.

However, an hour later, USATF reversed the decision. After reviewing the photo and video, officials ruled that both Tarmoh and Felix finished in 11.07 seconds. There is no procedure in place to break the tie. As of right now, officials are still determining what they will do to break the tie. A popular suggestion is a run-off between the two as the fairest way to settle the debate. Those suggesting the idea say that it will make for great TV and a great story.

Stay tuned for continued coverage of the Olympic Trials, including a ruling on the dead heat finish in the women’s 100 final.

Eaton, Rupp Turn in Record Performances at Olympic Trials

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Eaton, a former Oregon Ducks track & field star and local athlete, competes in numerous events including the shot put (Photo credit: Mike Blake/Reuters)

The day started off with the 100 meter race for the decathlon. In heat one, Ryan Harlan finished first with a time of 11.26 seconds. The winner of heat two was Curtis Beach, crossing the line in 10.88 seconds. Heat three featured local favorite Ashton Eaton of OTC Elite and 2008 Olympic decathlon champion Brian Clay of ASICS, who has never lost an Olympic trials. Eaton exploded off the blocks for a world record 100 meter decathlon time of 10.21 seconds, even with a steady drizzle falling at Hayward Field. Clay finished second in 10.45 seconds.

Ashton Eaton followed up his world record performance in the 100 meter race with another world record in the long jump. Eaton soared through the air for a jump of 8.23 meters (27 feet), the longest jump in the history of the decathlon. Eaton’s previous best jump was just one centimeter shorter. Brian Clay jumped 7.40 meters, good enough for fourth place in the first round, and sixth place overall for the event.

The first round of the men’s 400 meters got underway Friday afternoon at Hayward Field. Nike’s LaShawn Merritt had the fastest time of all heats, winning heat one in 45.36 seconds. Oregon school record holder Mike Berry finished sixth in his respective heat in 46.29 seconds, missing the cut two advance by two tenths of a second.

In the women’s side of the 400, Francena McCorory had the fastest time out of the four heats, winning her respective race in 51.11 seconds. Also in McCorory’s heat was Oregon’s Phyllis Francis, who surged on the homestretch into third place to automatically advance with a time of 52.82 seconds. Former Duck Keshia Baker, now running for Saucony, finished second in the third heat with a time of 52.02 seconds to advance to the next round.

“All I wanted to do was qualify,” said Francis. “I was a little nervous, but I tried not to stress too much. I could have run faster, but I’m proud of myself.”

Baker dons an American flag after a successful run in the trials.

Molly Beckwith of Saucony had the fastest time in any heat of the women’s 800 on Friday, winning her heat in 2:00.61. Oregon’s Laura Roesler surged into third in her race to automatically advance as she finished her heat in 2:03.11.

“I felt really good,” said Roesler. “I definitely had a smile on my face and I came here to do what I did, so I am happy.”

Tyler Mulder and Nick Symmonds of OTC Elite had the fastest and third fastest qualifying times respectively. Mulder won his heat in 1:46.81, while Symmonds won his heat in 1:46.94. Oregon’s Elijah Greer had a strong second place finish in his respective heat, crossing the line in 1:47.42 to advance.

“At 300 meters I made a move and finished second,” said Greer. “I made a lot of bad moves, accelerations weren’t needed. Tomorrow, I don’t want to make the same mistakes. The last 200 meters was perfect energy for that round.”

In the women’s 100, Oregon’s English Gardner finished third in her heat in 11.27 to automatically advance to the next round of heats. Tianna Madison of Saucony ran her way to the fastest qualifying time of the day, winning her heat in 11.10 seconds. Gardner used the support of the hometown fans to her advantage.

“I love my home crowd,” said Gardner. “They keep me going. I thank God every day for my fan base at University of Oregon.”

Ashton Eaton continued his dominating day in the 400 meter portion of the decathlon, winning the third heat in 46.70, over a full second ahead of second place. Eaton’s time was the fastest of all heats. The 400 was the final decathlon event of the day as Eaton wrapped up the day with 4,728 points, 17 points ahead of American record pace. On Saturday, Eaton will attempt to take down the American decathlon record of 8,891 points, currently held by Dan O’Brien, a record that has stood since 1992. Eaton will also go after the world record, of 9,026 points, held by Roman Serble. That record has stood since 2001.

“What you’re seeing is a culmination of everyone who supported me,” said Eaton. “I just do not want to let anyone down.”

The men’s 10,000 meter final featured one of the most dominating performances ever, as all three of the qualifiers beat the former Olympic trials record of 27:36.49 seconds. Former Oregon star Galen Rupp used a 4:14 final mile to win in 27:25.33, a new trials record by over ten seconds. OTC Elite’s Matt Tegenkamp finished second in 27:33.94 while Nike’s Dathan Ritzenhein claimed the final spot on the 10,000 Olympic team in 27:36.09. Ritzenhein had not yet reached the Olympic A standard of 27:45, but ran a strategic race with Rupp, a teammate of his at Nike, to easily reach that standard.

Rupp celebrates after coming in first place in the men’s 10,000 meter race (Photo credit: Eric Gay/AP)

“Im extremely blessed,” said Rupp. “I feel like the luckiest guy on earth.”

During the race, the runners were drenched with some summer rain, but that didn’t stop Rupp.

“I wasn’t worried about it,” said Rupp. “I grew up with it and I love running in it. Regardless of the weather, you have to go out and compete.”

The women’s 10K featured a much more down to the wire finish. Leading for much of the way, it was Amy Hastings to cross the line first in 31:58.36 to earn her spot on Team USA. Natosha Rodgers of Texas A&M finished second in a personal-best 31:59.21 while Shalane Flanagan rounded out the top three with a 31:59.69 finish. Flanagan, who already had a ticket punched to London after winning the marathon trials back in January in Houston, has said she will only run the marathon in London. Rogers does not have the Olympic A standard of 31:45, so she will not be on the team despite finishing in the top three. In place of Flanagan and Johnson on the Olympic team will be Lisa Uhl, who finished fourth in 32:03.46 and seventh-place finisher Janet Bawcom (32:17.06). Uhl and Bawcom were the next two finishers that had previously achieved the Olympic A standard.

“I am just so excited that I can’t even express it,” said Bawcom. “I am so happy to be here and to be apart of a great team.”

The action picks back up tomorrow starting at 9:30 am with the continuation of the decathlon. Tomorrows finals include the women’s 100 meter hurdles and women’s 100 meter race.

15 Minutes With Kevin Wulff, CEO of ASICS America

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Kevin Wulff replaced Richard Bourne after 19 strong years at ASICS.

On Thursday night, Eugene Daily News had the opportunity to meet with Kevin Wulff, CEO of ASICS America. We talked with Kevin about Ryan Hall, an ASICS runner who will represent the US in the men’s marathon, their presence at the Olympic Trials, their involvement in major marathons, as well as their involvement in the lightweight running shoe movement with the ASICS 33 collection.

EDN: Obviously a very exciting time for ASICS with the Olympics approaching. You have Ryan Hall representing your company in the men’s marathon in London. What does that mean for ASICS?

KW: “Ryan is amazing as a person. We have a marketing campaign called Stop at Never,  and Ryan epitomizes Stop at Never as well as every single employee. We’re all trying to find ways to improve and innovate, and that’s exactly what Ryan does. To have him going to London as our representative is pretty darn exciting. He’s got the fastest time (in the marathon) as an American and it’s going to be a very competitive field as it always is, but he and his wife are both favorites of the company, and he is really what ASICS is all about.”

EDN: Nike has a huge presence at the Olympic Trials. What is ASICS doing to compete in that market here in Eugene this week? 

KW: “We respect everything they do and everything they have done for this event and the university. We’re going to be doing a lot of things to, number one to let our athletes know that we’re here to support them and to be visible. We’re going to also be visible within the community. We have what we call the Stop at Never challenge. We have three activities, or challenges so to speak that we set up over at Sun Motors. So they can challenge themselves through these activities of long jump, a reflex machine and other things like that. Anybody who enters gets ice cream at Prince Puckler’s. We have three winners each day who go into a raffle where they win a complete trip to the New York City Marathon or the Los Angeles Marathon. We have some fun things going on at the Original Pancake House. We have the whole thing wallpapered. Free coffee, and just things that we do that are visible, fun, and say thank you to our consumers. We’ll just do it in our own way and have some fun with it.”

EDN: ASICS is extremely involved in the New York City Marathon. Will ASICS be looking to sponsor more major marathons? 

KW: “We’re involved in probably 100 marathons across the country in some way. We stepped up in a significant way with the Pittsburgh Marathon and the New York City Marathon. The Los Angeles Marathon we just picked up in a significant way and I’m not sure we’ll add even more events, but we just want to get even more innovative in the events that we have. We want to really elevate and innovate. We’re doing things that haven’t been done before, and that’s what really excites us.”

EDN: The minimalist shoe movement has been popular in the running community. What is ASICS doing to become involved in that movement? 

KW: “Anybody who has known ASICS and our heritage and the epicenter of who we are is product. We do well at marketing and other areas of business but product design development is who we are. The who minimal thing, we call it lightweight. We’ve had it for a long time. 33 is a collection where we have a lot of performance built into lightweight products. Whether it be stability, cushioning, or motion control, we’ve built technology into our 33 collection. We’re launching something with our new campaign called the Gel-Lyte. That has its own properties, a lot of color, a lot of fun in the uppers. We feel it’s a space we’re good at, we’ve been involved, but we’ve dedicated additional styles, focus and effort to meet consumer demand. It’s pretty exciting but something that came natural to us because we’ve had lightweight running product for quite a long time.”

Stay tuned for our Q&A session with ASICS athlete Deena Kastor, the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist for the United States in the marathon.

Ryan Hall, an ASICS runner who will represent the US in the men’s marathon

Olympic Trials Press Conferences: Eugene Athletes

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The Olympic Trials are just four days away, and on Tuesday morning the Hilton hosted the first of a series of five press conferences. This first press conference featured local Eugene athletes Lauren Fleshman, Jesse Williams, Andrew Wheating and Ashton Eaton.

Lauren Fleshman

Two-time USA Outdoor 5,000m champion Lauren Fleshman speaks with media in Eugene on Tuesday morning before the Olympic Trials. (Sean Larson/Eugene Daily News)

On preparing after injury

“I’ve had a really unusual year this year. A lot of injury problems with an IT band that have lasted six or seven months or so. So definitely an untraditional preparation for me.”

Thoughts on Olympic Trials after injury

“The Olympic Trials has changed in my mind what it’s all about now. Six months ago if you asked me what I was aiming to do it would have been very clear, coming in with the fastest time, it would be all about winning and making this team on my home track. Things have just evolved. I’ve gone through a lot of stages and part of the time it was about whether or not to even compete at all. In my heart it was never a question. This is my home track. This might be my last year, you never know.”

“It’s still something worth doing. My challenge now will be to go to the line and be courageous in a situation I’m uncomfortable with and try to get one hundred percent out of myself when there’s a huge unknown.”

On running at Hayward Field 

“There’s no other place I’d rather do it, especially in these circumstances. I’ve got a lot of friends and family who are going to be there, a lot of people in this community whose lives I’ve been fortunate enough to touch in some way since 2007 when I moved here. I’ve had nothing but out showing of support from people in this town.”

Jesse Williams 

2011 World champion high jumper Jesse Williams speaks with media in Eugene on Tuesday morning before the Olympic Trials. (Sean Larson/Eugene Daily News)

On preparation going into trials 

“Last weekend I jumped really well. I decided to stop jumping because I wanted to save myself for this meet. Last year I jumped a meet record at the USA championships, a world leading mark, and it really gave me the momentum I needed to get on top of that medal stand.”

On going after meet & American records 

“I’m in shape to get a personal best jump. I’d love to jump that, and maybe a little bit higher. There’s some records that I feel like are within reach, but I’m just gonna have fun and take some stabs at them. Every time I step out on Hayward I always have fun.”

On being the heavy favorite

“It’s always easier being the underdog, being like Rocky and just climb your way to the top. I’ve been on top at different levels, maybe not quite number one in the world…I kind of feel like I’m treating it in the same fashion. I think I’m doing a pretty good job with it so far, but I guess we’ll find out this week.”

Andrew Wheating

Andrew Wheating says there is a seventy percent chance he will run the 1500 in the Olympic Trials, and about a 30% chance he will run the 800. (Sean Larson/Eugene Daily News)

Chances of OTC in 1500

“I’d say they’re pretty good honestly. We have a couple of OTC runners who are all capable of making the final.”

On health and fitness level heading into trials 

“It’s great. I’ve been dealing with some nasty injuries all season, but I’ve since gotten over that hump and I’ve just been hitting the homestretch as far as my fitness goes. I couldn’t be in a better place right now.”

On recovery from performance at Pre Classic

“Honestly, Pre was such a hard race for me. I’ve never come to that point where I felt like I should give up, and that to me is rock bottom. I bounced back the next week in Vancouver and that was just a complete turnaround. That’s what I needed, that rebound race. I’ve come to realize losing is part of the sport. You can’t PR every time. You gotta take those losses and use them as fuel for the next race, and that’s what I did.”

On what events he will run at trials 

“At the moment we’re about 70/30 to the 1500. There’s still a small chance we’re gonna do the 800, but we’re pretty confident the 1500 is gonna be our full focus.”

On difference between 2008 trials and 2012 trials

Andrew Wheating (left) and Ashton Eaton (right) share a laugh together before an Olympic Trials press conference in Eugene on Tuesday morning. (Sean Larson/Eugene Daily News)

“I can’t really pull anything from ’08 because I was this little kid at a huge meet at the time, and it was a very different perspective. I look at it like it was a very fun, big party that I went to. But now you’re the celebrity walking into the party. It’s a very different kind of feeling. You have all the eyes looking at you.”

On bet with Vin Lananna to shave beard 

“A few months ago at one of the TrackTown Tuesdays people were asking about performances at the trials and were asking questions. I popped up my hand and said, ‘Vin, what kind of performance at the trials will it take to get you to shave your beard?’ As long as I’ve known him, he’s never had a shaved beard. He was put on the spot and said, ‘If I see another Oregon sweep, I’ll shave my beard,’ so I look over at Russell Brown and he looks back at me, and we’re like ‘We’re gonna do this, it’s worth it.’

On running at Hayward 

“Hayward is full of people that have seen us and know us and kind of built a relationship with. When we step on the track, you can feel the energy and positive vibes. Honestly in ’08 when I stormed that homestretch, I felt those vibes. It really does take ten percent less energy to go from eighth to first because it’s just the excitement you feel from the fans. I think the Hayward Field magic does actually exist.”

Ashton Eaton

2011 World Outdoor silver medalist Ashton Eaton speaks with media on Tuesday morning in Eugene before the Olympic Trials. (Eugene/Daily News)

On fitness level

“I would say that with the same amount of effort that I feel that I’m putting out as I have been before, I get better results. That to me indicates good fitness.”

On final thoughts during week before trials

“We were trying to savor this whole year leading up to this because it’s all about what you did to get there. You can look back and say, ‘Man I did all that to try and get to the Olympics,’ and here we are at the Olympic Trials.”

On confidence making the Olympic team

“I would say that I’m fairly confident. If I compete like I normally compete, I don’t think there should be a problem, but I also know that it’s the decathlon, and I don’t like to say I’m going to make it for sure. I’m not trying to view this as the Olympic Trials until the meet is over.”

Stay tuned the rest of the week for continued coverage of the Olympic Trials, including interviews from Andrew Valmon (men’s Olympic team coach), Amy Deem (women’s Olympic team coach), 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor, and Kevin Wulff, CEO of ASICS.

 

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