RunblogRun opines: One of the finest days in track and field I have ever seen, and definitely, the finest long jump for men ever! Here is how Kylee 0’Connor covered day three for us. One of the track journalists with Professor Lori Shontz, Kylee also wrote about the 20k on June 30. Enjoy our day three coverage.
By Kylee O’Connor
EUGENE, Oregon — For Day Three of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, 22,424 fans filled the stands of Hayward Field–the third highest crowd in Hayward history–hoping to witness historic performances. The so-called “Hayward magic” once again came through, as seven world-leading marks were set.
Ashton cruises to another Olympic trials win:
Defending Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton came and did what everyone expected him to do: win. He placed first in five of the 10 events, and placed top-10 in every event of the decathlon. He now has the world-leading score, tallying 8,750 points. Jeremy Taiwo with 8,425 points placed second, and Zach Ziemek, who scored 8,413, finished in third.
“I think what happens when you get older is you just have more experience time and that’s why it’s good to have older coaches, because they’ve seen a lot,” he said. “So I’ve seen a lot and been in a lot of different situations–so in that sense, if I’m in a situation in an event in a decathlon, I have confidence that I’ll know how to handle it.”
Allyson Felix silences doubters:
Anyone who was unsure how Allyson Felix’s ankle injury, which happened in April, would affect her attempt at the 400/200 double was silenced–at least until the 200-qualifier–as she flew through the 400-meter dash in a time of 49.68 seconds. That time is a season best by over 1.5 seconds and the world-leading time. She will be joined in Rio by former Oregon Duck Phyllis Francis and two-time world outdoor champion Natasha Hastings.
LaShawn Merritt dominates 400-meter final:
Merritt ran a world-leading time of 43.97, beating second place finisher Gil Roberts by nearly a full second. They will be joined David Verburg, who has been on many world champion 4×400-meter relays. This is Merritt’s third straight Olympic trials 400-meter win.
After a stacked world championships in Beijing last year with three athletes running under 44 seconds, Merritt had this to say about Rio:
“I learned in Beijing that to run 43 in the 400 is not as difficult as people make it seem,” he said. “Because there are people who ran 43 in the rounds and the times spoke for itself. It’s just a matter of knowing how to run it and wanting to run it. That’s why I feel like I could run a lot faster than 43-high. Sometimes I feel like every time I step on the track I should be able to run 43 seconds. Just because I feel like some guys ran a 43, and I’m a lot more talented, a lot more stronger and a lot more faster than. If anything, I feel like I’m under-performing a lot.”
Chaunte Lowe ties her own meet record; Vashti Cunningham becomes youngest in 36 years to qualify:
At 32 years old and with three kids, Chaunte Lowe looked in prime form as she jumped a world-leading mark of 6 feet, 7 inches. On the other end of the spectrum, 18-year-old Vashti Cunningham became the youngest U.S. track athlete in 36 years to qualify for the Olympics. Cunningham, the 2016 world indoor champion, placed second with a jump of 6-5 Â½, while Inika McPherson captured the last spot on the team with a jump of 6-4.
“You have Inika, who has only done three competitions this year and has already jumped the qualifier,” Lowe said, “you have Vashti who went to her first world championships and won, and then you have me being the old-timer who was counted out, who came out and jumped the world lead…We have three warriors up here that really aren’t going to give up until we are on that podium.”
English Gardner tops the best 100-meter top three in world history:
After placing seventh in the final of the 100-meter dash at the 2012 Olympic trials, Gardner was not going to let that happen again. This time, she won in a world-leading time of 10.74 seconds. In second place was Tianna Bartoletta who has already qualified for Rio with her second-place finish in long jump. Bartoletta ran a 10.78, followed closely behind by Tori Bowie who ran a 10.78, as well. With three athletes under 10.8, this race qualifies as the best top-three finish in history. At the 2012 trials, a 10.92 was the winning time.
With such a good relay pool to choose from, the U.S. 4×100 is sure to be a speedy one. “Our relay is going to be nasty,” Gardner said. “I promise you that.”
Long jump is one for the history books:
For the first time in trials and world history, the top six male long jumpers were over 27 feet, 3 inches. Jeffery Henderson won with a world-leading 28 feet, 2 1/4 inches. Second place went to former Arkansas star Jarrion Lawson, who jumped 28-1 3/4. Although third place was 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Will Claye, who jumped 27-7 1/2, fourth-place finisher Marquis Dendy actually gets to make the trip to Rio. Claye did not have the Olympic qualifying mark of 26-9. Although he did jump that during the meet twice, both times were over the wind-legal limit.
Gatlin makes third straight Olympic team:
The final event of Day Three ended with yet another world-leading performance. Gatlin led the pack in a time of 9.80 seconds and passed Jimmy Vicaut of France’s previously world-leading time of 9.86. Trayvon Bromell finished just behind Gatlin in a time of 9.84, and Marvin Bracy followed in a 9.98.
With the lingering news about Usain Bolt’s alleged injury and medical exemption from the Jamaican Olympic trials, this is what Gatlin had to say about the question of whether or not Bolt will make it to Rio:
“Stories unfold, man, so hearing about medical waivers and things like that, you’ve just got to stay the course. You’ve just got to–as a sprinter, as a sprinter who’s going to be a competitor against him–you’ve got to think that he’s going to be at the starting line no matter what, and that’s what I have to do.”