Sunday, June 24, 2012

Olympic Trials: Day 2

NOTE: This contains many spoiler alerts so if you are named Ed and haven't watched Saturday's coverage and don't plan on it until Monday night, you may want to avoid reading this:


Men's Decathlon: Ashton Eaton Sets World Record!

The performance by Ashton Eaton in the decathlon will stand out as not only the performance of the meet, but likely the year, probably the last 4 years, and as potentially one of the greatest efforts in America's storied track and field history. Eaton set a World Record in the Decathlon by 13 points, scoring 9,039 points, and did it by establishing 7 lifetime personal bests, and two decathlon World Records. I probably haven't been that close to tears since Michael Johnson won the 200/400 and set the 200m WR in Atlanta.

In his first two events, the 100m dash and the Long Jump, Eaton posted times/distances that would have been competitive in the OPEN events. In fact, his long jump of 27'0" was better than any of the jumps from the open long jump. Both of these were World Records, and put him way ahead of WR pace. By the end of the day, he was teetering on the pace, but with a strong showing on Saturday, it was still possible.

After a 13.70 110m Hurdles, and a 17'4.5" Pole Vault, Eaton was well ahead of what he needed to set new Trials and American Records, but going into the 1500m event - the final event of the Decathlon - Eaton would need to run faster than 4:16.23. For a guy as talented as Eaton, this may not seem too difficult, but it would mean he'd have to run a 2+ second lifetime best.

Now personally, I would always say leave something for the Olympics, but when you're can taste a World Record, how can you not go for it? Eaton was running strong in the 1500, but was going to need to pull one out with just 400m to go. He needed to run about 64 seconds for his last lap to get under 4:16, and with 300m to go he was really motoring. Curtis Beach, the decathlete from Duke who has a lifetime best of somewhere near 4 minutes flat for the distance, had a sizeable lead, but in the last straightaway he moved into lane 2 and began to motion for Eaton to kick. I've never seen encouragement from a competitor like that, but hey - it's the decathlon, those guys are a fraternity. Class act, that Curtis Beach.

Note: Beach was mathematically out of the running to place top 3, nor did he have the Olympic "A" standard, so it was irrelevant whether he ran 4:00 or finished DFL in the 1500m. He "let" Eaton win because he stood to gain nothing, and just wanted to support the great champion.

Eaton ended up with a 62 second last lap and a 4:14.48 lifetime best to establish the new World Record, and he truly earned the title of Greatest Athlete in the World.

Women's 100m: It's a Tie!

Alright so this had to have been one of the craziest things I've ever seen. Allyson Felix looked out of contention from the start, but pulled back up to be in the mix for a top 3 finish. In the lane next to her, her training partner and Nike teammate Jeneba Tarmoh was also fighting desperately for third. Carmelita Jeter won and Tianna Madison was 2nd - no real surprise there - but it really looked like a tie for Tarmoh and Felix. When the results were announced, it was Tarmoh who was awarded 3rd place - by 1/1000th of a second.

Ecstatic to be going to Olympics, they interviewed her, the whole 9. After the broadcast jumped off air, it was initially reported by NBC commentator Ato Boldon that the Felix camp was protesting the result. They reviewed the photo, which gives 5000 frames per second, and the conclusion: a dead heat. The officials just could not separate the two, and a temporary tie has been awarded. An immediate run-off was out of question as both of the women are slated to compete in the 200m, so the result is * until then. My guess is they'll have some kind of run-off, which happens fairly frequently in swimming, and really is the most fair way to decide.

It will just stink for Tarmoh if she doesn't get to go, now that she has had the emotion of being told she was going.

Women's 100m Hurdles: Lolo Jones Makes the Team

Let's cut straight to the chase: Lolo Jones is going to the Olympics. The very open, very social Jones has become more known for her tweeting and off-track activities than for her hurdling prowess of late. She's had it pretty rough since Beijing, and even just in her last couple of races she's had some lackluster results. She somewhat quietly made her way through the rounds, never leading her heat, but when the dust settled after the women's hurdles final on Saturday night, Jones was one of the three who will get to compete in London.

Dawn Harper and Kellie Wellz were the top two finishers, again not too surprised there. Harper has looked very sharp recently, but there are a bunch of solid athletes who are going to be chilling stateside watching, including Kristi Castlin - who nearly beat World Champ Sally Pearson recently - and names like Ginnie Crawford (Ginnie Powell), Danielle Carruthers, Queen Harrison, and Michelle Perry.

Maybe it was her drive to lose her virginity, or her amazing base of Twitter followers, or maybe it was the Brennan Feldhausen effect, but whatever it was, props to Lolo for getting it done.

Two days in and this meet has been off the charts insane. Very excited to see what happens shortly. And of course tune in tomorrow to The Runaround on ESPN for our review of the weekend!

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