Thursday, June 24, 2010

USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships kick into high gear...

DES MOINES, Iowa--The five day extravaganza known as the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships got underway Wednesday at Drake Stadium with the junior men's and women's decathlon and heptathlon kicking things off.

The seniors get going Thursday afternoon with new University of Washington grad Katie Follett (left/photo by Paul Merca) running in the first round of the women's 1500, and 2009 world championships team member Ryan Brown in the first round of the 800 meters.

Washington State's Anna Layman also competes in the first round of the 800 meters.

In the lone senior final on Thursday, former Husky Mike Sayenko will run in the men's 10000 at 8:20 pm, local time. Western Washington's Sarah Porter will run in the women's 10000 Thursday night at 8:55 pm.

Junior athletes competing Thursday include Washington State's Greg Hornsby in the 100, teammate Shaquana Logan (100 hurdles), Oregon's Becca Friday from Bellingham (800), along with University of Washington high hurdler Shayne Moore, and incoming freshman long jumper Kasen Covington from Idaho.

While there are no major national team berths on the line this year for the seniors, the juniors are vying for spots to compete at the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships in Moncton, Canada.

ESPN and NBC Sports will provide live coverage of the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. In addition, media partner RunnerSpace.com will provide live streaming video of any events that are not carried on ESPN or NBC.



In other news happening in Des Moines in the lead-up to the championships, USA Track & Field on Wednesday introduced the first athlete recipients of Project 30 funds, designed to help athletes with high medal potential cover their training costs and living expenses.

Discus thrower Aretha Thurmond of Federal Way, a three-time US Olympian and University of Washington grad who currently trains in Opelika, Alabama, along with pole vaulter Brad Walker, another UW grad who was the 2007 IAAF world champion in the event, were named among the recipients of Project 30 monies.

Thirty-one athletes will receive a total of $800,000 in Project 30 funds in 2010, with $4 million to be spent over the four-year term of the program.

Project 30 athletes sign a contract with USATF and Nike, which sponsors the program, providing them with between $10,000-$50,000 per year. Project 30 athletes will receive Nike shoes and equipment and will compete annually at the USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships, Nike Prefontaine Classic and the Penn Relays, and at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Track & Field. They will be asked to participate in press conferences, public appearances and marketing opportunities.

Officials from USATF and Nike selected the athletes in an exhaustive process that took into consideration a host of factors. Athletes who were "medal-ready" and "finals-ready" for major international championships were given first consideration, with athlete need also strongly factoring in. Athletes from all 43 events were evaluated.

"We looked at all 43 events and first picked athletes who had the greatest potential through 2013," USATF Chief of Sport Performance Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley said. "Our final group is a great mix of veteran athletes and future stars, but they all have one thing in common, and that is their potential to land on the medal podium at the World Championships and Olympic Games. Many athletes were either losing their shoe contracts or seeing them substantially reduced, and we are very pleased to be able to step in and assist athletes perform at their best."

Athletes without a pre-existing contract with a shoe company and those with Nike were considered for the program. Athletes under contract with other shoe companies are prevented by their contracts from signing with a competing company and therefore were not eligible for Project 30 funds.

The complete USATF Project 30 release can be read here.


Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Powell Crawford was one of several athletes participating in USA Track & Field's Win With Integrity event at the Wildwood Hills Ranch in St. Charles, Iowa, as the federation took its community outreach program aimed at educating youth, parents, educators and coaches about the positive results that come from leading a physically active, drug-free lifestyle while living with integrity.

A program in which the champions of track and field work directly with young people around the nation, Win With Integrity has evolved from a start-up program in 2004 into one of USATF's most successful initiatives.

Here's USATF video of Powell having fun with one of the kids from Wildwood Hills:

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