Heard In The Mixed Zone, by Dave Hunter, note by Larry Eder

Dave Hunter wrote his column about some of the deep thoughts that he received from various athletes and former athletes on the Trials and their performances, as well as others. A nice column with which to start today's day of Track & Field.

Eaton_AshtonLJ1-OlyTr12.jpgAshton Eaton, 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials
Photo by PhotoRun.net

A Daily Journal From The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials / Track & Field

Highlights From Hayward


By Dave Hunter

EUGENE, Oregon

June 28,  2012

Each day at these Olympic Trials there is an intermittent stream of athletes who, after their competition, parade through the tented Media Center by way of a cordoned pathway known as the Mixed Zone.  This constantly-changing area is a frenzied scene of conflicting emotions.  Media types swarm around as exuberant London-bound Olympic qualifiers field a bevy of questions only feet away from the more solemn questioning of disconsolate athletes whose dreams will not be fulfilled.

Here is a collection of various comments heard in the Mixed Zone during the first four days of these Olympic Trials:

Dan O'Brien, Olympic gold medalist turned broadcaster, reflecting on Ashton Eaton's world record decathlon performance which also supplanted O'Brien's long-standing American decathlon record:  "I was ready for it [Eaton's record-setting performance].  I was prepared to let it [his own American record] go.  I am extremely happy for Ashton.  I did have some feelings of sadness as I reminisced about the record I set.  I had a lot of thoughts about how I would have loved to compete in this competition against all of the current athletes and in front of all of the former great decathletes."

Thumbnail image for Gatlin-Gay-Kimmons-Rodgers-OlyT12.jpgJustin Gatlin, 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials
Photo by PhotoRun.com

Justin Gatlin, OT 100 champion, on whether or not his Trials win represents some sort of redemption: "I don't think about redemption. I am sticking to what I know: the simplest form of competing.  I am honing my craft and technique. In the final, I got out quick, my middle phase was flawless, and I was able to finish.  I have a lot left in the tank."  

More Justin on fatherhood:  "My son empowers me and keeps me strong.  He is so young, but I catch him mimicking me.  I still have that childhood spirit in me."

Tyson Gay, somberly assessing the 100 final:  "I wanted to win, but I came in second and I'm going to London.  I had no hip pain.  The hip felt good.  In the blocks during the final, my feet were shaking on the [starting block] pads.  It's been a while. I had two good races and I am good to go.  I have a sense of relief about it and now I can go back to training.  With my surgeries, I have been through a lot. I couldn't even jog until March - and at first only on grass.  I am on the way up now."

Thumbnail image for Richards_SanyaQ-OlyT12.jpgSanya Richards, 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, 400 meters
Photo by PhotoRun.net

Sanya Richards-Ross, after her victory in the 400:  "I am blessed and honored to be on this team.  I knew if I stayed in my race plan I would be all right.  I am getting my race rhythm and hitting my marks and I know that I am capable of running faster in the near future."

Aaron Ross, Sanya's husband and NFL cornerback, on watching his wife compete:  "I used to be nervous, but now I watch her work out every day.  I knew she was ready.  Pre-season is underway, but my coach told me I could come here and he has given me his blessing to go to London, so I am pumped."

Dee Dee Trotter, about her sparkling facial makeup in the 400 final:  "This is my 'Glitter Phase', also known as war paint.  It provides me with some internal empowerment.  After I was injured in 2008 and started coming back, I just decided that this is something I wanted to do for myself."

More Dee Dee, on her thoughts during her finals' home stretch sprint that put her on her third Olympic team:  "I asked Him, 'Please don't let anybody be behind me trying to pull off something crazy.'"

Reese Hoffa, OT shot put champion, on the competitive dynamic of the shot put:  "There is tension until the first athlete hits a big throw.  The first person who hits that big throw usually has the best shot to do well."

More Reese, on USA shot putters competing against the Europeans and his plans for his last Olympic Games:  "It may be a peaking issue.  The Europeans are showing that they are exceptionally good.  More than more hard work, I have to make sure my body feels good.  I plan to work on getting more lift in the ball.  I just need to go in there and go for broke.  I am going to be aggressive.  If I want to end my career, Olympic-wise, the way I want to, I have to go after it, do or die."

Mark Wieczorek, sixth place finisher in the 800 meter final, on his J.C. Penney-like green and blue short-sleeve T-shirt which he wore every round:  "It was a random selection.  I was just trying to find something different to distinguish myself. I don't have anything to run in that isn't directly from a shoe company.  I want to tell them, 'Hey, this guy's not sponsored.'  I am not superstitious about it.  It gets hard.  You're trying to survive, pay rent, trying to train."  

Dave Hunter

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