Monday, July 7, 2008

The final day of competition at the U.S. Olympic Trials!

-From Eugene, OR

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 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 for me. I guess 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 when 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 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 it,” said Stucynski.

By Jay Hicks.

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