Olympic Trials

Join the EW! A blog. team on an incredible journey through the gates of Homeland Security to an alternate universe of heaven-blessed athletes, mustachioed sports reporters, large-screen TVs, plainclothes FBI agents, Media Tents, Piss-in-a-Cup Dope Testing Sites, Free Speech Zones and, reportedly, cows in Nike shoes. Welcome to The Circus!

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The crowd in the southeast grandstands on Friday, July 4.


My vantage point for the fireworks over Hayward Field, seen from the UO Psych building.


Fireworks over Hayward Field.


EPD makes sure those pole vaulters aren't up to any funny business.


Vaulter Stacy Dragila gets psyched out at the Trials.


American record holder Jenn Stuczynski (in blue) takes a nap to calm the nerves. Pole vaulters are most prone to "choking" during the big competitions and so I'm impressed with Jenn's strategy. It seemed to work.


Click on image for larger version.

And now for some criticism: What the hell is up with this? The above "workout structures" at Amazon Park are about to collapse, the wood is rotting and about the only thing useful there are the chin-up bars (at your own risk) and the parallel bars. When I was in Beijing back in 2005, the city had installed dozens of these similar workout structures throughout the city in order to get people in shape and thinking about the Olympics (three years in advance!). If Eugene wanted to make "improvements" to its parks and running paths to prepare for Olympic Trials visitors, tearing this Amazon Park atrocity out of the ground and replacing it with new equipment would've been a heck of a lot better than putting up new bulletin boards everywhere (that only end up tagged and with outdated info). Just a thought.

Question: Is this a U.S. Army helicopter?

If it wasn't, can someone tell me what it was? I'd really like to know. It was circling over Hayward Field many times on July 4. It wasn't a TV news chopper, nor was it a tourist flight (not big enough). It looked like a recon-type chopper.

I did not get a press pass for the Olympic Trials. We at the EW left that to Chuck — who actually knows about running — and Todd, the man with the camera and the mad skillz.

Since I didn't get a press pass for the Trials, I didn't get a ticket to the Media BBQ either (Todd and Chuck admit they skipped it seeing as that it was way out by the new hospital).

Picture Eugene videographer Tim Lewis did manage to get a ticket for the BBQ as did his puppet-reporter Scruffy. Lewis is in the news lately thanks a grand jury subpoena of his May 30 Tasering-tape.

The question getting tossed around is whether Lewis is a member of the media. The latest R-G article cites a 2000 quote by Lane County District Attorney Douglas Harcleroad saying Lewis is a reporter "'Mr. Lewis is a reporter, and he was reporting,' Harcleroad said at the time."

But last night KVAL got this out of Harcleroad: "We don't know the facts around whatever he does," he said. "I don't know whether he's a journalist or not. We haven't actually looked at the law on that in any great detail."

Huh? The District Attorney "hasn't looked at the law"?

For Harcleroad's edification, the Oregon Shield law says:

44.520 Limitation on compellable testimony from media persons; search of media persons' papers, effects or work premises prohibited; exception.

1. No person connected with, employed by or engaged in any medium of communication to the public shall be required by a legislative, executive or judicial officer or body, or any other authority having power to compel testimony or the production of evidence, to disclose, by subpoena or otherwise:
(a) The source of any published or unpublished information obtained by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public; or
(b) Any unpublished information obtained or prepared by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public.

Lewis publishes on YouTube which is a medium of communication to the public.

Here, in fact, is the latest sample in which Lewis and Scruff attend the Olympic Trials Media BBQ encountering KLCC's Rachel McDonald, among others.

Click on any image to see the gallery.

DAY 6 - July 4th

Chaunte Howard (1st place Women's High Jump)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 6 - July 4th

Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 6 - July 4th

Sarah Bowman and Treniere Clement (Women's 1500m semi-finals)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 6 - July 4th

16 yr-old, Jordan Hasay set a new high school record in the Women's 1500m semi-finals
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 6 - July 4th

Fireworks going off behind the grandstands during the Men's 10k final
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 6 - July 4th

Abdi Abdirahman flies into 1st place (Men's 10k final)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 6 - July 4th

DAY 8 - July 6th

David Oliver (1st place Men's 110m Hurdles)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 8 - July 6th

Lacy Johnson
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 8 - July 6th

The crowd was really pulling for Jordan Hasay in the 1500m final
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 8 - July 6th

Rafeeq Curry (3rd, Men's Triple Jump final)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 8 - July 6th

Walter Dix took 1st in the closest (and most exciting) race of the Trials (Men's 200m)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 8 - July 6th

Marshevet Hooker trips in to 3rd (Women's 200m final)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 8 - July 6th

Dawn Harper (3rd) and Damu Cherry (2nd) hug it out after the Women's 100m Hurdles final
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 8 - July 6th

Here are my photos from July 3rd. Images from Day 6 & 8 should be up really soon. (Unfortunately I couldn't make it down for Day 7 - July 5th.)

Click here for a recap of the day's events. Click any image to see the entire gallery.

Jill Moore
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 5 - July 3rd

Jordan Hasay
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 5 - July 3rd

Mary Wineberg (2nd Place Women's 400m)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 5 - July 3rd

Sanya Richards glides across the finish into 1st (Women's 400)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 5 - July 3rd

LaShawn Merrit takes 1st in the Men's 400m
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 5 - July 3rd

Jeremy Wariner's not so happy about being 2nd (Men's 400m)
Olympic Trials Eugene 08, Day 5 - July 3rd

3:30pm The day is cooler than last weekend; still a little muggy. The wind is brisk, throwing off the throwers and jumpers.

3:32pm Damu Cherry runs the 2nd fastest time in the women's 110m hurdles. Ten minutes later Lolo Jones upstages her by running the fastest time in the world this year in 12.45 seconds.

3:40pm Women's pole vault final. Looks like a headwind is
gonna throw them off. There's a flag-strip keeping a group of us off the 200m
turn. I heard that someone was acting stupid in this zone yesterday and blocking NBC's cameras. So now everyone must stay away from the track, even during victory laps. The two EPD guarding this area are intensely focused … on
watching the women pole vaulters. While I admit this whole Circus is a gawkfest of pecs, biceps, quads and ass – that's still no reason for these on-duty
police officers to ignore that toddler who just wandered past the line (with the parents helpless to retrieve her). Update: The toddler returns to her
parents of her own accord.

3:45pm Wind is good for javelin, bad for pole vault. While
most of the vaulters keep busy by stretching and sprinting, Jenn Stuscynski
takes a nap. Olympic gold medallist Stacy Dragila keeps all her sweats on to
keep her muscles warm. But looks a bit overpsyched.

3:46pm The wind topples the cheap plastic fence on the
infield. The wind is gusting something fierce.

4:25pm Erin Donohue has the build of a javelin thrower but
there she is kicking it in the 1500m to get 2nd and a spot on the team.

4:25pm Sitting next to kids in the stands. A small girl points at the scoreboard and says, "Hey, it's Arnold Schwarzenegger!" When in fact the scoreboard just says "Shwartz," a women vaulter.

4:28pm Men's 200m final. Walter Dix and Shawn Crawford tie at 19.86 seconds, but Dix has the slight nose, so he gets 1st and Crawford 2nd. Spearmon gets third by a nose.

Both Crawford and Spearmon use the word "blessed" to describe what it's like to be going to the Olympics. Question: Is God a track-and-field fan?

4:41pm Jenn Stuscynski is still sleeping in the pole vault. Instead of waking her, they just keep passing her on to the next height.

4:45pm Women's 200m final. Allyson Felix is wearing the lucky color pink, so she wins in 21.82 seconds. Muna Lee in 2nd and Marshevet Hooker dives into 3rd place. OK, OK, people. Dive if you have to at the Trials -- but if you pull that shit in Beijing the U.S. will be a laughingstock. Pull it together, people! We're not Shaquille O'Neal!

5pm The women's pole vault: Vaulters are dropping like flies on 14 feet, 11 inches. Dragila goes out. As does Janson, Johnson and Becky Holliday.

5:17pm Jenn is going for her 2nd attempt at her opening height. This could be a Dragila-style flop ... AND SHE MISSES again!

5:22pm Jenn Stuczynski clears her 3rd attempt and is going to Beijing! Whoa! She finally wakes up! Nearly misses it, but sticks it. All she needed was to clear one height. I wonder why she waited so long to enter... nursing an injury?

5:26pm Now Jenn vaults into the lead with a clearance of the next height. That nap really made a difference. Now if only I could take a nap ... soon, very soon. This is the last day of the Trials and soon I will begin to sleep.

5:32pm Men's 110m hurdles final. A real loud snoring sound comes from the announcer's microphone and somebody tells us to get coffee to him, quick!

One false start, charged to the entire field's Visa card.

David Oliver in first (12.95), Terrence Trammell in 2nd, and 3rd goes to David Payne. The guy in lane one does a ninja roll across the finish line, apparently trying for style points.

5:35pm Jenn Stuzzinski is going for the Olympic Trials record in the vault. 4.76 meters. She scores it! New OT record!

5:37pmNow Jenn Stuxxxinsky is trying for the new American record, vaulting for 16 feet, 1.75 inches (4.92 meters, for you English folk!) God bless her!

5:38pm A baby attacks me and wants to do my live-blogging for me. Her mother says she can type, but will leave my keyboard in disrepair. So there will be no baby-blogging today, sadly.

5:42pmWomen's 100m hurdles final. Will it be Lolo Jones or Damu Cherry? Either way the U.S. will qualify real chill names to Beijing.

And the winner is ... Lolo Jones in 12.29 seconds! If it's wind-allowable, then it's a new American record. But I'm pretty sure the wind was too much (AS IF the wind really helps you in the hurdles...) Then Damu Cherry and Dawn Harper in 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

5:48pm And Jenn misses twice at a PR height for her. She has one more jump.

5:50pmMen's 1500m final. I predict a finish of Bernard Lagat, Alan Webb and Gabriel Jennings. The Olympic Trials record is 3:35:15. Let's see if they come close...

61.4 first lap. Jennings out front...
2:01:70 in 2nd lap...

And Jenn Stuccinzski just PR'd in a new American record!

1. Lagat in 3:40:37
2. Leonel Manzano in 3:40:90
3. Lopez Lomong in 3:41:00

Alan Webb disappoints in a 5th place.
There was just a huge pack of them in the final 100m. It was down to whoever had gas left, and could make their legs move. The top three finished comfortably while William Leer snuck into 4th with an impressive finish.

Here's what I could find out about Manzano, a surprise finisher in 2nd and going to Beijing:

Born September 12, 1984 in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico. He is an American cross-country and track and field athlete. At the age of four, Manzano's family moved from Mexico to Flatonia, Texas. Less than a year later, the family relocated to Granite Shoals, a small community just outside Marble Falls, Texas.

So this means that the U.S. 1500m team will be composed of three runners born outside the U.S., with Kenya, Mexico and Sudan, respectively. I duly note that the foul-smelling sports reporter (once again in front of me) also has figured this out and is pointing it out to whoever listens to his big mouth.

Lagat yells out "Thank you, America!" True dat. And this completes my broadcast for today. Good night, and good luck.

Juuuuuuust kidding!

Like he'd ever in a million years do something so bold as boycott the 2008 Summer Olympics in China ... still Bush had to defend why he is going to Beijing in August at this week's G8 Summit in Japan:

“I view the Olympics as an opportunity for me to cheer on our athletes,” Mr. Bush said at a press conference in nearby Toyako, after the two leaders met privately. He said not going to the opening ceremony “would be an affront to the Chinese people” that might make it “more difficult to be able to speak frankly with the Chinese leadership.”

Human rights advocates have been urging a boycott of the Games, to protest China’s crackdown on anti-government protests in Tibet and its support for the government in Sudan. Other world leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, are skipping the opening ceremonies..

But Mr. Fukuda said: “I don’t think you have to really link Olympics with politics.”

Um, Mr. Fukuda, perhaps you haven't been paying attention to the Olympics for the past 100 years. Because politics nearly always stoke one flame of the Olympics and snuff another.

But I have to wonder why Bush won't visit Eugene during the Trials, where he'd have a chance to cheer on all of the top American athletes while setting an example of location. (And yes, I'm now going to start using "location" to mean a "local vacation.") I mean, it's not like he'd be unsafe in Eugene. They already have his Homeland security guards all over the place.

Question: Because Bush skipped the U.S. Olympic Trials, isn't that an "affront" to Americans that might make it "more difficult to be able to speak frankly" with the American people?

Since I totally missed out on the Tyson Gay's Crash and Burn of yesterday, I'd thought I'd at least post an update on the health of America's top sprinter. From a press release this morning:

Tyson Gay underwent an MRI late Saturday afternoon at Slocum Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Eugene. The MRI showed a mild strain in the semitendinosus muscle. He is expected to engage in "active rest" for up to 12-14 days, with light physical activity increasing through that period, and then resume training. Tyson's only confirmed pre-Olympic competition is the 100 meters at the Aviva London Grand Prix on July 25, and that is still on the schedule.

Since your Eugene Weekly calendar is probably a little bit more important than what happens today at the Olympic Trials, really a day of little action and just qualifying jumps, throws and runs, I offer only this:

2:55pm Men's 3000m steeplechase. Anthony Famiglietti runs "the fastest an American has run this year" in the 3k steeple and wins by a large margin. I wrote about this guy in Thursday's dispatch.


7:20pm
Bianca Knight wins her 200m heat in 22 seconds and
walks off the track, looking nonplussed. In fact, she doesn't even appear to be
breathing … until someone shouts "All right Bianca!" and she looks up
briefly to show that yes, she is in fact a human being.

7:30pm Women's high jump final. I'm standing on the stairway
landing near the finish line. I'm surrounded by high jump coaches. Someone says
there will be a "changing of the guard" tonight, that a lot of the
women in the final are young 'uns. They announce the competitors and I'm drawn
to Adriane Stone because she's wearing a pink hoodie and gets all happy when
the announcer says she's the only one to PR in the qualifying rounds. My bets
are on her.

7:36pm Two scratch in the women's 200m heat, meaning all
four sprinters will automatically advance. I revise my previous concern that
running these heats even if all will advance is pointless. Now I believe it's
all just a test to see who runs consistently superior. While the Trials are a
test of the will, the Olympics are a triumph of the will. (For those who didn't
get my joke there, read this and this.)

7:36pm A high jump coach is doing a dance and yelling across
the track to his athlete: "You gotta go up, and then over!"

7:38pm Stone, (aka pink hoodie) just cleared opening height.

7:39pm The Oregon Duck mascot wanders onto the field and
generally acts like its tripping on psychedelic mushrooms. Eventually the duck
is escorted off the field.

7:42pm The first high jumper is eliminated in the
competition (I think it was Amber Kaufman?). Her coach says she "sat
around too much" before the competition and wasn't properly warmed up.
This is the first in a long list of excuses these coaches tell each other once
their jumpers are eliminated, one by one.

7:51pm So the high jump coach has to pantomime his (and they
are all males coaching surrounding me) criticism of the jumpers from a
distance, using bizarre hand waves and arm dips. When a coach wants to tell his
athlete to get her knee up, he first shouts "Get your knee up!" The
athlete, looking befuddled, needs further help. The coach lifts his own knee
high up in the air, points at it, then point up in the sky. The jumper nods,
claps her hands then slaps her thighs a few times. For a better analogy: Think
a third base coach in a game of baseball, only with the gutturals of a deaf and
mute.

7:55pm What appears to be a U.S. Army helicopter is circling
low over Hayward Field. A few minutes before this, actual U.S. Army servicemen
were brought trackside. Heightened security for the Fourth of July? Cops can't
tell fireworks from actual bombs?

8pm Men's 1500m semis.

HEAT 1: Alan Webb and Bernard Lagat in a fast heat (but
slower than the next one). It turns into a sprint and UO's Andrew Acosta (who
must've appealed his fall in the qualifying rounds and got a pass into the
semis) comes close to making the top six and qualifying for the finals, but
falls just a bit short.

HEAT 2: Kyle King goes out hard and fast, driving the pace
to a 1:59 for the first two laps, but King will eventually fade to almost last.
This heat is faster than the first, with winner Gabe Jennings clocking 3:40
flat.

8:20pm Six remain in the women's high jump. Stone (aka pink
hoodie) is on her 3rd and final attempt. The closeup of her face on the video
screen makes me think she's thinking of happy thoughts before her jump. The
audience does a drumroll clap but she misses. Still, she's ecstatic and so
very, very happy.

8:23pm Some high jumpers are needy, some not so much.
Deirdre Mullen needs a chat with her coach (using the crazy dance) after nearly
every jump. Most of the time, Mullen's coach just tells her that she looks
"perfect," but that she just needs to "hit it high." He's
using good tactics as a coach, but I wonder if Mullen (who is getting her
master's in counseling psychology) is on to his tactics. Sheena Gordon just
walks back to her chair after each jump, hit or miss.


8:26pm
Women's 1500m semifinals.

HEAT 1: Mary Jayne Reeves dives at the finish (it seems that
more and more people are diving at the line, thanks to Christian Smith). But
Reeves doesn't qualify and she's close to tears just off the track.

HEAT 2: With her toned, but not sculpted, body and her three
foot long blond ponytail (which nearly engulfs her five foot frame), high
school runner Jordan Hasay doesn't look like the typical champion middle
distance runner. Nevertheless, there she is in the final 200m of the prelims,
blazing by the other runners in a homestretch kick that's all but expected of
the underdogs here at Hayward during the Trials. Her long blond hair (oh please
don't chop it off when you go to college, Jordan!) flailing in the breeze,
Hasay cruises into fifth in a new high school record of 4:14.50. (Christine
Babcock, who set the old AR just a few weeks ago, couldn't repeat her performance
and had to watch her fleeting record shattered while she painfully kicked down
the homestretch in 4:20:00.

While Hasay was flanked by all the cameras, the west
grandstands started a chant: "Come to Oregon! Come to Oregon! …"
while everyone smiled politely. Hasay, a Californian, would fit in well in
Eugene.

8:45pm I'm standing next to Deirdre Mullen's coach. She
skips to the next height because she doesn't have the Olympic A standard. She
needs to clear a lifetime best in order to take third place and go to Beijing.
"Hit it high!" her coach say, who backs away from the fence before
each of Mullen's jumps (in case she clears the bar and he has to shit bricks).

8:55pm Women's 5000m final. Tight six pack in the lead …
Shalane Flanagan letting Ariana Lambie lead for the first half of race. Then
it's Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman and Jen Rhines.

They run 9:12 for the first 3000 metes. Lambie looks tired,
doing all that leading and such. Only three will drink from the Olympic cup in
this six pack.

Flan, Rhines and Gouch break out in a 71.2 lap. Flesh and
Slattery don't pick up the pace and fade behind. One of the last laps goes by
in 67 seconds, but even so: This is a slow-ass 5k final. Goucher strides into
first in 15:01. Fleshman in 5th in 15:23.

9:10pm Two meatheads in the press seating are going berserk
over Goucher's first place finish. They yell things like (and I quote):
"Fuck yeah!" and give each other high fives. One has a backward hat,
one wears a collared shirt and both wear cargo shorts and brand new Nike shoes.

9:18pm Ian Stewart, the Brit who kicked past Prefontaine in
the Munich Olympics to rob him of a bronze medal, comes out to the infield and
says it's "perfect weather" for a race and that he "thinks
you're in for a treat tonight," in regards to the men's 10k field. We are
all reminded, once again, of the entertainment value of track and
field.

9:20pm Men's 10,000m final. Galen Rupp is wearing my lucky
number (#11) so my bet is that he qualifies. Or else my luck is no longer worth
a damn.

At the start line, Rupp looks either A) too psyched, or B)
like he's sleepy and popped too many Zyrtec. He's all loopy and advances to the start line
before it's time and has to back up and wait.

2:16 at lap 2.

3:21 at lap 3. Rupp perhaps too eager to be in lead.

Lap 4 is run in 65.7, lap 6 in 66.6 and lap 7 in 65.5.

Abdi Abdirahman looks hella strong.

8:17 at the 3000m mark.

Lap 8 run in 66.9. Rupp is basically running fartleks, which
is running relaxed and at ease with interspersed short sprints. He uses this
tactic to regain the top four, time and time again. Some reporters behind me
think he's going to suffer because of this. If you watch Rupp over time,
though, you realize he just likes fartleks. No word on whether he likes to call
them fartleks or the more PC-friendly "tempo runs." In Swedish, fartlek means "speed play."

At lap 9, Abdi hawks a loogie on the finish line and for a minute I think he's
losing steam.

Bright yellow thundersticks are waving about along the 200m
curve. I wonder how they got those past security … I mean, all of a sudden a
small spot of Hayward is now Autzen Stadium. Rupp takes notice of the
thundersticks (as if he doesn't need to be reminded that the entire crowd is
rooting for him).

13:49 at the 5k mark (half-way). Monday's 5k final was won in 13:27, for reference.

The top three of Abdi, Rupp and Jorge Torres have a comfortable gap between them and the next pack of runners with only four laps
to go.

19:25 at the 7k mark. I don't think Rupp likes being third in this triumvirate, as he keeps sprinting in front of Torres. But Rupp can't crowd on Abdi too much, cuz Abdi has some sharp elbows. With my binoculars I see some definite elbowing going on.

With one lap to go, Rupp goes but Abdi holds him off. Unlike other local runners, Rupp doesn't have an amazing kick, but still comes in close behind Abdi for 2nd.

Later, Abdi sprints his victory lap (while other runners are still racing) and dives into the steeplechase drink.

The Register-Guard is unimpressed by Rupp's race. Wow, here they are, such non-critics of all things to do with UO sports, suddenly getting all critical of its track and field athletes' glory.

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