The Olympics are little more than a month away, and over the next few weeks the United States will be finalizing its team rosters.
The USA’s best runners, jumpers, and throwers will gather this weekend in Oregon in hopes of earning a trip to London as a part of their country’s track and field delegation.
Here’s a preview of this weekend’s track and field Olympic trials, including television information and athletes to keep an eye on.
U.S. Olympic Team Trials, track and field
June 21–July 1, Eugene, Oregon
Venue: Hayward Field.
- The University of Oregon facility, which opened in 1919, also hosted the Olympic trials in 1972, 1976, 1980, and 2008.
- It is one of only four Class 1 internationally certified tracks in the United States.
- The hammer throw trials will be held at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
- Friday June 22, 8:00–10:00 p.m. CST, NBC Sports Network
- Saturday June 23, 7:00–8:00 p.m. CST, NBC
- Sunday June 24, 6:00–7:00 p.m. CST, NBC
- Monday June 25, 8:00–10:00 p.m. CST, NBC Sports Network
- Thursday June 28, 8:00–10:00 p.m. CST, NBC Sports Network
- Friday June 29, 5:00–7:00 p.m. CST, NBC Sports Network
- Saturday June 30, 8:00–9:00 p.m. CST, NBC
- Sunday July 1, 6:00–7:00 p.m. CST, NBC
A complete schedule, with a detailed list of events, is available here, at the Official Site for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Qualification: How It Works
The United States can qualify three athletes in each event, so long as each athlete’s time, distance, height, or score meets the world “A” standard. If no athlete in a given event meets the “A” standard, the U.S. can still qualify one athlete, provided he or she meets the world “B” standard.
For the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays, the 16 countries that post the best relay times between January 1, 2011 and July 2, 2012 qualify. Those nations select a pool of six runners who are eligible to compete in the Olympics.
Athletes to Watch
Tyson Gay has won several gold medals in the 100 and 200. Unfortunately for him, none of those gold medallions were Olympic medals.
The 2007 world champion in the 100 and 200 has been one of the world’s best sprinters for the better part of a decade. But his lone Olympic performance, in 2008 in Beijing, was a disappointment.
After running the fastest (albeit wind-aided) 100 in history at the U.S. trials, a hamstring injury kept Gay out of the 200. He recovered in time for the Olympics, but appeared not to be 100 percent. A poor performance (by Tyson Gay standards) in the semi-finals kept him from a showdown against Jamaican rivals Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell in the finals.
Gay missed much of the 2011 season with injuries, but he appears in be healthy and ready for the Olympic trials. He ran 10 seconds flat, into a headwind, at the recent Adidas Grand Prix.
We’ll find out later this week if Gay will get another chance to challenge Bolt, Powell, and the rest of the field in the Olympics.
Yes, Iowa’s Lolo Jones is the athlete who has decided to remain a virgin and who has said that staying abstinent has been more difficult than anything she’s done on the track.
All the attention paid to Jones’s private life (some of which Jones has invited by tweeting about it), has distracted us from the fact that she is a world-class hurdler who could be a medal contender in London.
Jones won back-to-back gold medals in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2008 and 2010 World Indoor Championships. She was a favorite to win the 100-meter hurdles in Beijing, and got off to an early lead in the finals. But she didn’t completely clear the ninth (of ten) hurdles. Hitting the hurdle tripped her up just enough that six runners passed her.
Jones struggled during the 2011 season, in part because of injuries, but she’s been great so far in 2012. She’s won indoor races in New York, Moscow, and Lienz and enters the U.S. Olympic Team Trials as a favorite in the 100 hurdles.
High jumper Jesse Williams competed four years ago in Beijing but finished a disappointing 19th in the qualifying round. But by the end of 2008 he had risen to sixth in the world rankings.
In 2010 he won the high jump at both the USA Outdoor and USA Indoor Championships and finished the year as the world’s second-ranked high jumper.
Last year he won gold at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
This weekend 32-year-old Carmelita Jeter will attempt to qualify as an Olympic rookie.
A hamstring injury kept Jeter off the track when she was in her mid-twenties. She arrived on the international scene in 2007, at age 27. J
eter failed to make the 2008 Olympic team but won gold in the 100 at the 2007 and 2009 World Athletics Finals and added a bronze in the 100 at the 2009 World Championships. She had a breakout year in 2011, winning gold in the 100 and 4 x 100 relay at the World Championships and adding a silver medal in the 200.
Jeter will be a favorite in the 100 at the Olympic trials. She hasn’t decided yet whether she’ll also attempt to qualify in the 200.
While Gay, Jones, and Williams left Beijing four years ago without a medal between them, Bryan Clay claimed the unofficial title of “World’s Greatest Athlete” by winning gold in the decathlon.
Clay, who won silver in the event in Athens, will attempt to become the first decathlete ever to win three Olympic medals. But like Gay and Jones, Clay has struggled with injuries and hopes to recover with strong performances in Oregon and London.
Clay, now 32, went to college at tiny Azusa Pacific University, where he won four individual NAIA national championships (decathlon in 2000, long jump in 2001, pentathlon and long jump in 2002). As a senior in 2002, he led the Azusa Pacific Cougars to indoor and outdoor team national championships.
Sprinter Allyson Felix is only 26, but she’s looking to qualify for her third consecutive Olympics. She went pro when she was 17 and had to skip her high school prom because she was busy being a world-class track star.
Felix won silver in the 200 both in 2004 in Athens and in 2008 in Beijing. She also won gold in 2008 as a member of the U.S. 4 x 400 relay team.
Felix won four medals at last year’s World Championships in Daegu: gold in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays, silver in the 400 and bronze in the 200. If she qualifies, she may compete in all four events in London as well.