Story lines from the USATF Olympic Trials.
1 - Bernard Lagat is simply amazing. After a DNF in the 10k he came back looking great in the first round of the 5000 and closed in 53 taking the win in his heat and then in the final came from way back to close in 52.8 in a 13:3X race to take the win. That's his 5th Olympic team which is unreal in a sport like track and field. If the final in Rio is anything like it was in Beijing last summer being a high 13 minute kickers race he could be in the hunt for a medal. Ndiku hasn't looked good at all this year so for my money I see it coming down to guys like Edris, Keljelcha, Farah and then maybe Lagat, granted Iguider is doubling and has ridiculous closing as well so we will see but this was a memorable trials watching Lagat make the team.
2 - Brenda Martinez showing unreal guts and heart to come back and earn a spot on the 1500m team after the 800m final which saw her stumble and miss out on the team. Brenda embodies all that is great about track and field and is a fantastic role model for girls coming up in the sport. The 1500m team consisting of Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury and Brenda Martinez is a serious group of athletes, all are in sub 4 minute shape and in a tactical race have a shot at a medal. if Genzebe Dibaba runs and is healthy she can't be beat at 1500, and Faith Kipyegon in also on another level but any of these 3 Americans on a good day could make a run for the bronze.
3 - The women's 5000m team isn't very strong at all when compared to their 1500 or 800m teams. This is a weird event on the world stage, you have a women in Almez Ayana who is in world record shape and can run a sub 8:30 final 3k if need be, then you have Genzebe Dibaba who can also run very close to the WR and close ridiculously fast. After that, there's plenty of East Africans women who can run 14:25-14:40. So what do you do then when your sending a team without Molly Huddle who's the only American women who could potentially run anything in the 14:3X's. It's a really strong event and there's a reason Huddle and Infeld are only running the 10k, you have to either be able to grind something in the 14:2X's or close in sub 60 in a 14:50 type race. I'm happy to see the 3 girls make it, especially Abby who seems like an awesome person, but this is a very hard event to compete in.
4 - Lashawn Merritt has WHEELS!! He looked fantastic in the 400m and unreal in the 200, Gatlin had to dig into every reserve he had to edge him at the line. I'm really excited to see him doubling in both the 2 and 4. The US have a very strong team in all the sprints as usual and should definitely bring home some serious hardware.
5 - Matt Centrowitz is as silky smooth as they come. Well, we got exactly what we expected in that 1500, Centro proving he is a class above, striding away looking like he's jogging running 3:34 flat, Andrews closing like a train and a battle royal for 3rd similar to last year, this time with Ben Blankenship taking it from Leo. The men's 1500 team isn't as good pound for pound as their women's but it's still very strong. Centro is for sure in the hunt for a medal. (We will know more when we see how fast people run in Monaco). 1 thing I will say, and it's not me taking a shot at Jordan Mcnamara as he seems like a great guy. But like I said a few posts ago when he ran at Oxy, took the time to stare down CPT who had front run the race and then out-kicked him coming from way back.......what goes around comes around. He was pretty happy with himself in that race and talked like he was in unreal form, that may have been his shot at the olympic standard and instead of pushing the pace with Chuck he just went for the win. Like I said after it happened, he will be watching the final from home, while CPT is racing the worlds best at the Olympics. In this sport, nothing is guaranteed, you have to seize every opportunity, Jordan, like a lot of other Americans should have got the standard before the trials and then only focused on coming top 3 with less pressure on time.
Thoughts on our Olympic Team and the trials.
1 - Looking at the team that was named, I'm pretty heart broken for Rachel Cliff and Jess Smith. In my mind both did enough to display they can run at the Olympics and hold their own. Part of me wonders why an athlete without the standard would purposely beat an athlete who has it when they know full well they can't go and are taking someone else's spot away. I mean, I get it, if you can run the standard and another athlete can't you should be able to finish higher then them at the trials. Maybe I don't know all the details or some people can negotiate for sponsorship based on how they do at nationals but to me it seems crazy to do that.
2 - Our team as a whole seems to have really grown in both numbers and strength since 2012. Just looking at where we are and the rankings of some of our athletes, in addition to the improvements they have made it's really an exciting time. We sometimes get a little jaded, myself included when we watch the worlds best on the diamond league circuit, but we have some unreal talent and I, for one, am excited to watch them all compete.
3 - I'm very upset/sad that Sheila Reid isn't going to Rio. Now, that said I'm pumped Hilary is, she's such an awesome person and ran well all year. She deserves it 100%. I guess this speaks to the depth we have now. But part of me would love to see Sheila at 100% lining up in her best event at the Olympics. In 2012 she had to run the 5k, I was hoping to see how she stacked up against the Americans. She looked really good so far this year running that 4:03. It's the same thing with Cam Levins, I know he's struggling right now but I don't see why you couldn't still let the guy run the 10k. He's the CR holder and might be able to get back into mid 27 shape come Rio. I hope he comes back strong later this year and gets into some races in Europe.
4 - I'd like to see our trials at sea level next time, just so in the distance events if some people wanted to take a run at the standards they could at least have a fair chance at it. Edmonton did a great job hosting and it seemed like a great meet but it just seems like having the trials even at a relatively low altitude isn't ideal for the longer events.
Well, that's it for me guys. I wanted to keep this post solely about the Olympic Trials. Next time I'll chat about my own running, racing plans, etc. I've also got another shoe review coming and we will break down the Monaco Diamond League meet. CPT and Mcbride are running so keep it locked on that meet for sure.
Until next time, stay frosty,