Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's go time at the Olympics in London--Aretha Thurmond competes in discus qualifying Friday...

LONDON--Olympic track and field gets underway Friday at 2 am, pacific time (10 am in London) at the Olympic Stadium, with the morning session consisting of qualifying in the men's shot put, women's triple jump, women's 100, men's 400 hurdles, men's hammer, women's 400, and men's steeplechase, along with the start of the heptathlon.

In the evening session, Renton High School and University of Washington alum Aretha Thurmond (left/photo by Paul Merca) goes in the first flight of the discus qualifying round at 11:10 am in Seattle (7:10 pm in London), along with qualifying in the men's long jump and 1500.

Thurmond will be the sixth thrower in flight 1, which features former world champ Dani Samuels of Australia, 2008 Olympic silver medalist Yarelis Barrios of Cuba, and reigning world champ Yanfeng Li of China.

The Husky alum will need to finish in the top twelve overall from the combined results of the two flights or exceed the automatic qualifying mark of 63 meters (206-8) to advance to her second career final, which will be held Saturday at 11:30 am (7:30 pm in London).

Thurmond's 2012 season best is just over the 63 meter mark at 63.44m or 208-2, set on April 27th in San Diego. The fact that the Olympic Stadium is completely enclosed may be a factor, as throwers may not be able to take advantage of any wind that may carry the discus.

Friday's two finals are in the men's shot put, and the women's 10000 at 1:25 pm (9:25 pm in London), featuring US champ and Arizona State alum Amy Hastings, who is sponsored by Bothell-based Brooks Sports and will be wearing a specially-made spike (above/photo courtesy Amy Hastings) for Friday night's race.

Unlike previous Olympics, NBC will offer live streaming video of all track and field events via, or the NBCOlympics Live Extra app for the iPhone and iPad, with a dedicated track and a dedicated field channel showing the unilateral world feed, which is standard for following both track and field events.

If you're one of those who are still used to the traditional way of watching the Olympics in prime time, you might not want to look at this web site, or follow tweets, as we will try to post daily recaps a few hours after the day's events.

With not on site in London, there will be some slight differences in how we cover the Olympic track & field competition as opposed to the world championships. However, the focus will still primarily be on competitors from the state of Washington, though we may live blog as warranted.

Friday's start lists are now available via the web site.

As a side note, the men's shot put will have a bit of a local flavor, as University of Washington throws coach TJ Crater is in London serving as a personal coach to Arizona State alum Ryan Whiting, who is a medal contender.  Crater was the throws coach at Penn State when Pennsylvania native Whiting moved back after graduating from ASU, and was using the PSU facilities.

When Crater landed the UW position last fall, he continued to coach Whiting by phone and email, with someone video taping Whiting's throwing sessions and uploading it afterwards for Crater to critique.  Crater traveled to Istanbul with Whiting when he won the world indoor title.

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