Hammer Time... Thursday, Olympic Trials 2012, by Elliot Denman, note by Larry Eder

The Hammer Time event, held on the Nike campus shows us what track & field should be and could be. Using the power of the Nike brand, as one observer so ably put it, the hammer throw was shown as the beautiful and challenging event that it is, and the athletes were given the pleasure of throwing in front of a crowd, my estimate, at 5,000 for the day.

Nike, Vinn Lananna and Lance Deal should get the credit here. The event was amazing, and one of our most under rated events in track & field, an event that, if presented well, could rock the average sports fan, finally got its due.

Elliott Denmann, one of our RBR daily columnist, tells the story as he observed:

Amber Campbell, 2011 U.S. Indoor Championships, Photo by PhotoRun.net

Thursday, U.S. Olympic Trials 2012

BEAVERTON, OREGON -  The venue was Ronaldo Field, in the Tiger Woods Zone of the Nike corporate campus.
For this day, however, it  did not belong to the soccer superstar or the mega-guy of golfdom.
Or even Phil Knight.

Kibwe Johnson, 2011 World Outdoor Championships, Photo by PhotoRun.net

This day - "Hammer Time" in Nikedom - belonged to Amber Campbell and Kibwe Johnson, the first two champions of the 2012 USA Olympic Trials.

Campbell whirled her implement 235 feet, 6 inches and Johnson sunk a divot 245-11 away.

"This is fantastic," said Vin Lananna, the Oregon track coach spearheading the 2012 Trials. He's already delighted. His meet is off to a big-time start .

Call "Hammer Time"  a success in just about every way. It preceded by a day the "real" Trials program starting Friday at Eugene's Hayward Field.

Just as the Olympic shot put staged at Ancient Olympia, as the rest of the 2004 Games went on in Athens, was rated win-win-win as a one-time special, so was Hammer Time at Beaverton.

Start (11:15 a.m.) to finish (around 6 p.m.), a crowd estimated in the 3,000 range gave loud support to the 24 men and 24 women whirling their iron balls onto the Ronaldo Field turf.

"It's a great facility (with much of the planning credited to USA hammer superstar Lance Deal) and the athletes responded with some good throws," said Lananna. "The crowd was really into it and you really like to see that happening.

"Just one thing about this place, though.  It's not going to be here after tomorrow. The workmen come in at 6 a.m. Friday and start dismantling the whole thing."

The women's hammer, which preceded  the men's event by two hours, was as simple as A, B, C...sort of.

Going to London will be Amber (Campbell),  (Amanda) Bingson  and (Jessica) Cosby.

No perusal of the A / B qualifying standards list was needed.

This was straightforward - all  three are solidly into Olympic "A" territory, of 71.50 / 234-7 or better.

Cosby came to Oregon 12th on the 2012 world year list at 74.19/ 243-4, Campbell had a 71.57/ 234-9 but  Bingson just  71.04/ 233-1, or just short of the Olympic "A" of 71.50/ 234-7

But all rose to the occasion with mighty tosses.

Campbell powered it out 71.80 and Bingson 71.78, with both translated to an Imperial 235-6. Cosby, who set the American record of 74.19/243-5 three weeks ago, settled for third at 70.77/ 232-2.

Then the men moved in.

Johnson was a 2008 Trials finalist, but never recorded a legal mark there. His 74.97 / 245-11 took it all here with Texan Chris Cralle second at 74.36 /243-11 and A.G.Kruger landing third at 73.93 / 242-6.

Johnson and Kruger go to the Games because they own Olympic "A" marks (of 78 meters or more) from meets dating back to last year, while Cralle stays home, because he's just a "B" man.

"That's the system, it's a fair system," philosophized  Cralle. "I have no complaints with it."

"Placing second at Trials is important.  But it's also important to get that ("A") standard.

"Give me time.  I know I'll throw a lot better."

Biggest victim of the qualifying round was Michael Mai, the Army man who failed to make the nine-man cut. He wound up 10th at 68.78 / 225-8.

"All of us can do better than we did today," said Johnson. "That's a given. A.G. and I are sure to do better in London.

"But we all knew we took part in a sensational event today.  All credit to Nike for hosting it. And to all these  people for coming out to see it."

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