Sunday, June 24, 2012

This is the best reality show on the planet...

EUGENE--To say the US Olympic Track & Field Trials have been a roller coaster ride is an understatement.

And we are only on day three of this extravaganza that ends next Sunday on the famed Hayward Field oval in Eugene.

From the prologue in Beaverton where UNLV's Amanda Bingson got second in the hammer and earned the Olympic A standard of 234-7 (71.50m) with a throw of 235-6 (71.78m), to the deafening roar of the Hayward Field faithful who helped will Oregon alum Ashton Eaton (left/photo by Paul Merca) to a new world record score of 9039 points in the decathlon, as well as seeing the lows and emotions of competitors who face the reality that it's time to move on with your life after the sport, there is no better reality show than what the Olympic Trials provides.

Where else but at Hayward Field can over 20000 fans go ape-nuts over a javelin toss of 253-0 by Heritage HS/Vancouver's Sean Keller, the reigning US junior champion and who just won his second Washington state 4A title in Tacoma last month, as they did when the high school senior released the spear in round 3 of the qualifying?

As his father Michael told The Columbian, "Then we heard the crowd."

The disappointment of missing out on an Olympic team spot by 4/100ths of a second in the 100 hurdles makes people say things that even optimists like Rainier Beach HS grad Ginnie Crawford, one of the most consistent performers on the world scene would usually not say.

"I don't know," Crawford said, turning philosophical to a handful of reporters. "I never thought it would be so disappointing to make me want to find something else to do."

Where else but the Olympic Trials do you have a dead heat for the third and final spot on the US Olympic team, where a career, potential earnings. and possible Olympic glory are on the line?

Not only that, but USA Track & Field, the sport's national governing body, has no official procedure for breaking the third place tie in its rulebooks, and are still working on a solution to decide whether Allyson Felix or Jeneba Tarmoh (above/photo courtesy USA Track & Field) gets the Olympic berth in the 100 meter dash.

With day 3 starting up in a few hours, two of the biggest stories among Washington track and field followers will take center stage.

Renton HS and University of Washington hall of famer Aretha Thurmond, who contemplated retiring after giving birth to son Theo several years ago, looks to make her fourth Olympic team in the discus finals.

Norris Frederick, the Roosevelt HS and UW grad, who went another direction to raise money for his training expenses by hosting several meet and greets in the Seattle area, will shoot to make his first Olympic team in the long jump.

In addition to finishing in the top three, Frederick must jump at least 26-11 (8.20m) without an aiding wind of 2 meters per second to ensure a spot on the team today.

His personal best is 26-7 (8.10m), four inches and ten centimeters away from the standard.

Whatever the outcome, this is exponentially better than watching the Kardashians (and I never thought that I'd ever use their name in a track & field post, even though their stepfather and 1976 Olympic decathlon champ Bruce Jenner is in the house at Hayward Field).

Get your popcorn ready!

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