January 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Oregon Track Club has announced the departure of team member Christian Smith. In order to complete his undergraduate degree from Kansas State University; Smith will return to the Manhattan, Kansas campus. Smith spoke highly of his time in Eugene.
“Leaving Eugene after only a year and a half has been a very difficult decision to make. The town and team made the experience everything I hoped it would be. Being a part of Eugene’s 800m sweep at the trials will always mean so much to me. I am moving back to Kansas to finish my degree that I put on hold to come to Eugene before the Olympic year. I have had a great fall of training, I feel like my fitness has improved drastically from last year. I will continue to have good relationships with everyone at the Oregon Track Club” said Smith.
Christian Smith joined the Oregon Track Club in 2007. The 800 meter runner qualified for the Beijing Games in a dramatic third place finish in front of his home crowd at the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
Smith vaulted himself at the finish line in front of 2004 Olympian Khadevis Robinson in grabbing the final roster spot for the Beijing Olympics in posting a time of 1:45.47.
Is it possible?
Doug Logan in his speech at the USA Track & Field convention on December 7, left little doubt that he will put every ounce of his energy in landing major track meets in the U.S.
“We will not be taken seriously in the corridors if the IAAF until we host an outdoor World Championship competition on our shores,” said Logan. “Therefore, we pledge to find both a venue and financing and will successfully bid on the outdoor World Championships for 2015.”
This year is beginning with some big potential news. The IAAF is looking to expand the Golden League series from six to twelve meets and Eugene is on the short list with Beijing, and Doha, Qatar to be added.
“The actual final composition of the new tour will not be known until the summer at the earliest, once negotiations have revealed who wants to be a part of it,” IAAF spokesman Nick Davies told The Associated Press.
Simply put, hosting a Golden League meet means a larger purse, international media attention, and the ability to attract the world’s best runners to U.S. soil in the absence of an Olympic Games being held here.
Hosting a IAAF Golden League in the U.S., is the necessaru infusion of energy to maintain the momentum gained from the 2008 U.S. Trials held at Hayward Field in Eugene. Whether or not Eugene lands the meet, it indicate real progress in terms of the U.S. being legimiate player on the international stage, and that there are real effors in place to propel elite track and field in this country to the next level. Either way, this is a good new for track in the field in North America.
It becomes obvious while in Eugene that it is a city of doers. Thousands lace up their shoes each morning, running the winding trials that populate the city.
The energy behind Eugene ‘08 was made up of: the citizens of Eugene, The Oregon Track Club, and the Eugene 08 local organizing committee including surrounding governments and municipalities.
The city known as “Tracktown U.S.A.” vindicated itself from its detractors that cried foul at in the city being awarding the 2008 Olympic Trials, landing the trials and subsequent national championship meets.
It is beyond denial that the superbowl of track and field was gorgeous with a massive injection of money from Nike. Hayward Field is splendid after $8 million in renovations, and the 20,000 fans are testament to track and field’s popularity not only in Eugene but in the surrounding region.
It is not anything new to have the Olympic Trials in Eugene considering the world-class facilities and the athletes that train at the University of Oregon. The real question that is circling is whether Eugene will serve as host to an Olympic Games within our lifetime.
Vin Lananna: “I think the fans were treated to something very special this week, the spectators enjoyed it but more importantly I think the athletes had a great experience here. We hope they have. That was our objective when we put this thing together.”
A review of the U.S. Track & Field Trials brought three foreign born athletes qualifying in the 1,500 meters to compete in Beijing. Jennifer Stuczynki reigned in a new U.S. record in the pole vault. Marshevet Hooker took a spill in qualifying for the 200 meters, emerging with a sense of humor.
Tyson Gay’s American-record 9.77 seconds in a 100 heat and a wind-aided 9.68 in the final, the fastest time ever run in any conditions. The men’s 800 final highlighted the meet when Eugene-based runners finished 1-2-3 to a deafening roar from the nearly 21,000 fans. Bryan Clay recorded one of the best decathlon scores in history.
The meet left most happy and hungry for more. The 2009 and 2011 National Champions and World Championship Trials return to Eugene, in addition to the 2012 Olympic Trials.
You can not properly say goodbye to 2008, without saying hello to the prospects of track and field in Eugene 2009.
August 5, 2008 by · 1 Comment
The memories of the U.S. Olympic Trials are etched in Brianna Glenn’s mind. Her Olympic dreams died in Eugene at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
In the end, it was not in the cards. Brianna Glenn could not get everything to come together in the long jump finals, but ended up in 11th place with 20 feet, 6 1/4 inches when the competition ended. She fouled on her final two jumps.
Afterwards, in the athlete interview area, a tear rolled down Brianna’s cheek. She finally got out, “You don’t plan for this.”
Less than two months before the U.S Olympic Trials, she had surgery to repair a recurring knee injury, and then everything fell apart. An injury is a long jumpers’ nightmare and it definitely was not in her plan to compete in the Olympic Games. No run at making the Olympic team is supposed to be battled this way.
You won’t hear Brianna offering up any excuses or pointing to any specific reasons for not placing top three at the Olympic trials. Even though she would be well within her rights to do that but she didn’t. She gathered herself together as quickly as possible and arrived at the trials ready to compete. Because win, lose, or draw - she is a competitor.
Just after the gut-wrenching experience of failing to achieve her life-long goal of going to the Olympics, Brianna gracefully agreed to sit down at the Hilton hotel in downtown Eugene for an interview.
In the hotel lobby, Brianna’s eyes betrayed her. They typically dance with expectation and possibility. Much has been written about Brianna’s fun-loving attitude, her fabulous sense of humor, her victorious nature. Brianna does little to dispel that image, but her light hazel-brown eyes hinted at something else altogether. Something much more vulnerable.
Her window of her career hasn’t yet closed, and the question before her is whether to stay in the sport, or retire from the sport that she loves so much.
Here is what Brianna Glenn had to say:
PRJ: Share with us the experience of participating in the third Olympic Trials of your professional career.
BG: I was not as nervous this time around. This time, I was able to take this experience for what it is and put aside the hype involved. The first time I came to the Olympic Trials, I was wide-eyed and just so darn excited to be there. I was competing with people that I had looked up to for so many years. That feeling subsides after you’ve done it a few times.
PRJ: What was your mindset coming into the ’08 Olympic Trials?
BG: I was definitely confident coming into the trials. I was really excited because we wait every four years for this opportunity. It’s a culmination of all the work you’ve put in up to this point. Now, you actually get to get out there and show your stuff. It’s an exciting time, I think, for most athletes once you actually get to the trials. All of that hard work is finally about to pay off.
PRJ: Talk about your disappointment in not making the Olympic Team.
BG: My performance is disappointing. It was hard for me, because I really had a tough year. More than anything, I wanted to come in here and do my best. I just felt like if I competed to the best of my abilities that I would have a shot to make the team. That did not happen. You know the circumstances I was in, so I have to take it for what it is, learn from it, and just move on. I’m just trying to do that the best that I can.
BG: Ultimately, you have to have a strong sense of self, especially in this sport. You go through ups and downs, and nothing is always up. If you are not mentally prepared, then you will not be in the right position to experience the high points. You also have to learn to bounce back and how to have a short-term memory, because every athlete experiences losses.
PRJ: What was it like having your friends and family here at the Olympic Trials to support you?
BG: It was important. It’s great to be here with people that support you. I have the best friends and family in the world, in my humble opinion. They love me unconditionally. They know who I am as an athlete, but more importantly, they know who I am as a person.
PRJ: You’ve been to two other Olympic Trials, what is your opinion of Eugene ’08?
BG: They have done a wonderful job putting on a big show here in Eugene – ‘Tracktown, USA’. They have a track mentality here to support the sport. It’s great how they organized the meet. Overall, it’s good for the athletes and the sport. When you come to Eugene, the fans support every event, not just the premiere events.
PRJ: What, if any, affect did the fans have on the performances?
BG: They gave off great energy. They are behind you, clapping you down the runway. It’s not like, ‘Oh, there is my mom, I can hear her clapping.’ It was a positive experience here, because the fans cheer in the first place and the last place finishers.
PRJ: What do you have to look forward to the rest of the ’08 season and the ’09 season?
BG: We’re still trying to figure that out now. Things are up in the air, because I have to reorganize things. It will be something that I go over with my coach and my agent in the next several weeks. You can always read about it on my blog.
PRJ: Let’s digress for a moment and discuss your blog. It’s considered one of the most popular track and field athlete blogs on the net. What do you think is behind that success and the out-pouring of support from the fans?
BG: I don’t know where the traffic is coming from. What I like is that people from different backgrounds read my blog, both track fans and non-track fans alike. But they found my blog somehow and are currently interested in the sport, and that is great.
My blog has taken on a life of its own. Now, I feel responsible to keep updating it with what is going on in my life and career because my fans have taken the time to read my blog.
PRJ: What are your thoughts on your life after track and field?
BG: It’s hard to know for sure, because most athletes know their sport. I have my college degree in marketing, so I believe it will be something along those lines. I love sports and would like to do something in sports marketing.
PRJ: It’s been a rough 18 months or so for the sport. Have the Olympic Trials been good for track and field?
BG: It was a great Olympic Trials. Being out there for the last seven days, you have so many people with dreams in their eyes. Hopefully, that dream will shine through, and people will stop focusing on the negative. I just really appreciate our sport and what it has to offer.
PRJ: Brianna, thank you so very much for taking the time, and we wish you the best.
All content and photographs by Jay Hicks.
July 30, 2008 by · 2 Comments
She wore the athletic gear well.
Not only did she win the whole thing but she made a statement while doing it at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene.
I am referring to Sanya Richard’s dominant win in the women’s 400-meters, that silenced critics and her own personal doubts after failing to qualify for World Championship team last year.
This year could not have been more different than last year for the former University of Texas 400-meter runner.
This time around Sanya made a big fashion statement with her uniform and gear as she reclaimed her star status after a year lost to illness. Wearing one of Nike’s half-Space Age (forearm covers), half-wonky (knee-high black socks) uniforms, Richards brought down the house at Hayward Field while winning the 400.
There is history behind the athletic gear and the timing, A certain women by the name of Flo Jo made speed fashionable. As Richards crossed the finish line in the fresh Nike gear, the moment immediately conjured up memories of Flo Jo crossing the finish line at the 1988 U.S. Olympic Trials. Flo Jo captivated the world with her racing outfits, she wore one leg outfits, fluorescent, and some of them where even lace.
Was this display a precursor to Olympic gold for Richards?
Nike chose their leading lady to debut the Nike uniform the U.S. track and film uniform— complete with the dimpled-fabric arm coverings and calf warmers that the company says provide aerodynamic advantages. The swift gloves and swift socks that are made to reduce drag in the wind.
The accessories don’t just look good they are practical. Wearing arm covering while running in the August heat may seem counterproductive, but tests show that the sleeves reduce drag by 19% over bare arms, and the long socks reduce drag by 12.5%. Nike figures the improvements in the garments since the 2004 Olympics in Athens will mean a benefit of .02 seconds in the 100 meter race.
The front of Sanya’s uniform worn in Eugene is the “Nike We the People Graphic” that is to appear on the back of the uniforms of the 2008 track and field Olympic uniforms, which are provided by Nike, of course. Unfortunately it may be difficult to see on the Olympic uniforms because it’s blue on blue, but at least some people will got a glimpse before the Games.
The “Nike We the People Graphic” draws inspiration from a number of cultural elements and design influences to create a bold aesthetic specific to the USA. The graphic, created by Design Director Mark Smith, leverages Nike’s Aerographics technology.
With Aerographics, Nike designers incorporated mesh directly into a garment without any extra materials or added weight. Both the “Nike We the People Graphic” and Aerographics technology are highlighted in the 2008 USA Basketball, Track and Field, Softball and BMX team uniforms.
Specific elements of the design include: the Statue of Liberty, represented by the torch, stars and stripes representing the 50 American states, decorative elements from our nations’ currency, the olive branch and arrows from the talons of the American eagle in the Presidential seal, and the Celtic, African and Native American symbols and influences.
Sanya has a million dollar smile and the athletic gear to show off as well. Hopefully the world and most importantly the advertisers on Madison Avenue will recognize her star power in Beijing.
By Jay Hicks.
July 28, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
It must have been the hot gear.
In sports, uniforms and shoes make the man, right? The times and performances may be tough to compare from different eras because the track surfaces and training sciences continually improve over the years. There is constant in sports and track for that matter: the gear.
We know what you are thinking, how did the athlete look performing the time?
Of course, at the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier this month, Tyson Gay ran in throw back uniforms. During the 100-meter rounds, Gay introduced a white uniform with red and blue stripes in a tribute to 1936 Olympic star Jesse Owens. He successfully executed a wardrobe change–for the finals he rocked a royal blue body suit with red and white diagonal stripes across the front.
The photo to the left is of Jesse Owens wearing the original uniform at the 1936 Olympic Games, where he won four gold medals in the 100, 200, long jump, and 4×100 relay team while defeating Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Tyson’s gear certainly appealed to historically-minded fans. The 2007 World Champion at 100 and 200-meters, also sported a custom designed spike that were also inspired by Jesse Owens called “The Trinity.” The spike is named for Tyson’s daughter and it has another synergy as Gay is known for his strong religious beliefs.
It includes an X on the heel, reflecting the adidas Olympic heritage and the name Trinity embossed in gold on the side of the shoe.
“Winning is a great feeling. When you do win you can sit back and look at hard practices you went through and really appreciate the victory,” Gay said. “I wear the Trinity shoe out of respect for Jesse Owens. It’s like a new school and an old school put together. It’s my way of showing respect back to him.”
Like the man he sought to pay honor, Tyson is also a man of few words and big actions. This uniform and shoes are a personal expressing of who he is and what is important to him. While at the same time adding a hip, stylish trend to today’s sports scene.
It all depends on who you ask about the significance of gear to athletes.“We need to get some type of flame-retardant uniform in case he catches on fire,” said Drummond, no stranger to hyperbole. “He’s running so doggone fast.”
I couldn’t sum it up any better than that.
By Jay Hicks.
July 17, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Give a track fan an out of this world track experience, and he’ll be starved for more—more action, more entertainment, and more star-studded competition on the track.
Fans wanted more from the sport, and there is a great deal to celebrate after the U.S. Olympic Trials. The atmosphere in Eugene was magical, mystical. There were some sick performances and incredible athletes over the eight-day meet.
The emergence of Eugene as the leading track venue and city couldn’t be better timing. Eugene certainly lived up to the billing of “Tracktown USA” while hosting the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. The sport just helped to dig itself out of a big hole titled ‘irrelevancy’ and back to its rightful place at the center stage of the Olympic Games
The American consumer craves a spectacle. The sport is notorious for hosting track meets in medal bleachers that are less than half full. Not this time around.
The military jets that flew over the stadium during the National Anthem on the first day of competition really set the tone for a high caliber affair.
The $8 million renovation to Hayward Field looked the part as a professional venue for a professional sport and played host to some 167,123 spectators over the ten days of competition. The stadium even included corporate viewing areas.
Fans wanted an elaborate event, and the Eugene ’08 organizers delivered the Eugene Festival that included live music, booths, food, and the competition on jumbo screens for those without tickets.
Where does the sport go from here?
Not wanting to sound the least bit cynical, how does the sport get on live television? Eugene is no where close to hosting fan meets in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago?
It is not enough to have a bastion of the sport that resides in Eugene. A lot of people left Atlanta in 1996 after the Olympics thinking the sport had turned a corner, only to realize at the beginning of 1997 that the sport actually was scheduled to have less meets that year, rather than more.
Vin Lananna, University of Oregon’s director of track and field, is not leaving anything to chance or USA Track and Field. “I think the leadership of USA Track & Field and the USOC need to get serious about looking at the sport as a professional sport, and one that is a spectator friendly event. Create schedules that make it exciting,” said Lananna at a press conference last Sunday.
The sport must relentlessly sell itself to grow from a marginalized sport to where every meet is on live television. Lananna said he envisions an annual summer circuit of three West Coast meets starting next year. His preferred rotation: Eugene-Portland-Eugene.
U.S. Olympic track coach Bubba Thorton said, “Many Americans think of track and field as a summer sport, yet there are not any professional competitions in the United States. There are other competitions in the spring, or meets that include all-age competition, but there isn’t any pro competition.”
Some of the nation’s best track and field athletes might return to Hayward Field this month for an Olympic tune-up, kicking off what could become a summer circuit of meets in subsequent years, officials said Sunday.
Vin Lananna, University of Oregon’s director of track and field, said he is working on bringing a national-caliber meet back to Hayward on July 27. “It won’t be a great, big monstrosity, but we’ll have a couple events,” Lananna said. “We’ll try it out. But when we do it (in 2009), we’re going to blow it out.”
Bill Roe, USA Track & Field’s president and acting chief executive, said he supported the summer circuit concept. If Vin’s interest was to have one here, we would definitely put one here,” Roe said of Hayward. “I don’t see it as being any detriment to having nationals here. I see it as more opportunities we have to put our athletes in front of these fans. Obviously, our athletes respond in front of these fans.”
There seems to be some forward momentum from the 2008 Olympic Trials. Cynicism says to wait and see how things progress with the sport because we have heard this before. It is evident after the 2008 Olympic Trials the casual sports fan is secretly cheering for the sport to return to its rightful place at the top of the
By Jay Hicks.
July 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Jon Drummond summed things up best, “It should have been called the ‘fall trials’.” In reference to the athletes who hit the track in their quest to make the Olympic Team.
On Monday night, Christian Smith dove across the finish line in the 800-meters to take third place, and it started a domino effect.
Marshevet Hooker survived bumps, scrapes and a fall to claw her way on the Olympic team in the 200. “All I remember is pushing my chest forward, because I knew it was going to get me in the race,” said Hooker. “They are battle wounds that I’m proud of having,” she said after finishing third in the 200-meters.
“I told her that the 200 is the race you run when you don’t make the 100-meters. Marshevet didn’t want to be breakfast. You know that commercial airing right now about the Olympic Trials. She said that fourth place was toast…I don’t want to be toast,” said Hooker’s coach, Jon Drummond.
Allyson Felix played it cool while pulling out a major win on the last day and the last chance to qualify for Beijing. No worries, no pressures because she knew she could win all along. The field was not up to her world leading time of 21.82.
Unfortunately, Anwar Moore will have to wait another four years to realize his dreams. Moore was in third place with about 12 meters left, but stumbled over the final hurdle in the 110-meter race and found himself spilled all over the track.
Overcome by emotions afterwards Moore said, “Ahhh…this is a major disappointment. I guess that God has something else in store for me.
Terrence Tremmell was confident coming into the meet that he would make his third Olympic Team. He finished second in the 110 hurdles but ran with financial pressure of sorts riding on him. With a big smile on his face, Trammell said, “I was thinking about the airplane tickets I had bought for my family members to Beijing while I was getting in the blocks.”
It was more than good news that he accomplished his goal and added his name to the Team USA roster heading to Beijing.
David Oliver was arguably one of the most focused athletes at the competition. Arriving at the games a few days before the 110 hurdles competition started, he did not watch any of the Olympic Trials on television prior to arriving. Oliver finished with his domination of the hurdles, winning four races with the fastest time each round in his first U.S. Outdoor Championship. “I came here to finish top three, and I did that this weekend,” said Oliver.
The comeback story of the meet is that of Shawn Crawford. He struck 200-meter gold at the 2004 Olympic Games and since has gone through peaks and valleys fighting injuries during the last four years . His story is that of perseverance and redemption.
She did it. Lolo Jones (shown above) won the 100 hurdles final. The race was considered wind-aided (+3.8), if it hadn’t been, she would have broken Gail Devers’ American record of 12.33 that was set in 2000. The trials and tribulations of Lolo Jones after the 2004 Olympic Trials were behind her, or so she thought until suffered a hurdlers worst nightmare by falling in practice.
“It was nerve racking, because I hit a hurdle and crashed badly, but I didn’t have time to figure out why that happened because I was leaving for the trials the next day,” said Jones. She fought past the physical and mental hurdles on Sunday and ran into the record books.
The only athlete to win two events was Bernard Lagat. The Kenyan born and naturalized U.S. citizen is the U.S. Olympic Trials champion at 1,500 and 5,000.
Alan Webb finished fifth in a competitive 1,500-meters.
Another record fell Sunday. This time Jennifer Stucynski jumped 16 feet, 1.75 inches to better her own American record that she set back in May. She was relieved after clearing the opening height. “I think I was more happy to make the opening height. I made progressions in between the jumps — I just went with i,” said Stucynski.
By Jay Hicks.
July 6, 2008 by · 3 Comments
After falling to the track yesterday and shaking up the 200-meter field, so far the news on Tyson Gay is looking good. Gay’s publicist said that he underwent an MRI late Saturday afternoon. The MRI showed a mild strain in the semitendinosus muscle. Which means the hamstring was not pulled.
The nation can release a collective sigh of relief.
The reigning 100 and 200 World champion is expected to engage in “active rest” for up to 12-14 days, with light physical activity increasing through that period, and then resume training. Tyson’s only confirmed pre-Olympic competition is the 100-meters at the Aviva London Grand Prix on July 25, and that is still on the schedule.
The London Grand Prix will provide a look at the health of Gay’s hamstring and the level of his physical conditioning heading into the Beijing.
Gay has qualified in the 100-meters and is eligible to run on the 4×100 meter relay. His hopes of competing in the Olympics at 200-meters were dashed yesterday. Track and field, unlike gymnastics, does not allow for an appeal. He is in the same position as Sanya Richards a year ago, when she was unable to compete at the World Championships after finishing fourth at the U.S. nationals, even though she had dominated the sport during the season. Regardless of his world rankings, he will not be able to compete in the 200 in Beijing.
“I believe in the system, remember in 2000 [Sydney Olympics] when two of our marquee athletes went down in the 200-meters. You can’t say that politics are involved in the process. The athletes made the team. It wasn’t someone’s opinion or what an athlete did earlier in their careers, they earned the spot. It is what it is,” said U.S. Olympic Team head coach Bubba Thorton.
Great. How about instituting a fail safe switch in the process if an athlete is a world champion or comes into the trial ranked #1 in the world, there is a provision in the case of a freak situation that would keep them from making the U.S. Olympic team.
Hopefully, this will spark a new dialogue about whether a modification needs to be made to the U.S Olympic team selection process to ensure the best athletes represent the country at championship events.
July 6, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Today was definitely a hard day at the office for the athletes, but who would have ever thought that Tyson Gay would not be in the 200-meter final? It was hard to watch a warrior fall, but after the 100s, I was wondering how much energy all of those sub 10 second 100-meter races took out of him.
The injury is reported as a ‘severe cramp’, and everyone should hope that is the extent of the injury. Tyson was complaining of soreness in the hamstring during the 100-meter rounds.
The men’s 200-meter is wide open. Wallace Spearmon is a likely figure to win the race, but Walter Dix has been running extremely well. And don’t count out the reigning 2000 Olympic champion Shawn Crawford. The winning time will probably be under 20 seconds.
Former Olympian Allen Johnson, did not make it to the finals of the 110- hurdles due to an injury.
Everything seems to be falling into place for Lolo Jones in the women’s 100 hurdles. She told me that she is feeling good and feels that she is in a good place going into the finals. The reigning Olympic champion, Joanna Hayes, is putting together her race through the rounds, so look for a good final tomorrow.
By Jay Hicks.