Monday, August 10, 2015

USATF announces world championship team, minus Seattle's Nick Symmonds...

INDIANAPOLIS—USA Track & Field Monday formally announced the 130 athletes who will head to Beijing to compete in the IAAF World Track & Field Championships that begin August 22nd at the National Stadium, aka the “Bird’s Nest”, the site of the 2008 Olympic track & field competition.

As reported Sunday night on this blog and other media, the biggest name missing from the squad is Seattle’s Nick Symmonds of the Brooks Beasts, as the six-time national champion, two-time US Olympian and reigning world championship silver medalist at 800 meters refused to sign USA Track & Field’s document requiring him to wear Team USA gear made by Nike at official team functions, contending that the term “official team function” on the document is vague and overreaching.

The four athletes with Washington ties that are going to Beijing are:  Cas Loxsom (left/photo by Paul Merca) of the Brooks Beasts in the 800; Washington alums Brad Walker (pole vault) and Jeremy Taiwo (decathlon); and Vancouver native Kara Winger in the javelin.

Winger won the javelin at the national championships in late June, while Walker and Taiwo both finished second in their events, and Loxsom was third.

Winger will be joined on the team by husband Russ, as the Idaho alum, who finished second in the discus, won the NACAC senior title over the weekend to qualify for Beijing.

Members of Team USA are expected to report to Japan for a voluntary training camp this week before the final trip to Beijing.


Symmonds put up a blog post on Huffington Post Monday explaining his reasons for not signing USATF’s Statement of Conditions.

He writes, “The "Statement of Conditions" referred to is a contract that USATF demands all potential team members sign in order to be selected for a USA national team. One of its conditions is that all team members wear the Team USA gear manufactured by Nike at all "official team functions," but it fails to define what an official team function is. This vague commitment is hugely problematic for all non-Nike sponsored athletes who are contractually obligated to wear their sponsor's gear at all times outside of official team functions.”

He goes on to contend that the federation is only sharing 8% of its gross revenues with the elite athletes, as opposed to the 50% that most professional sports leagues share with their athletes, citing a study by sports economist Andrew Zimbalist done for the Track & Field Athletes’ Association.

By his actions, Symmonds hopes that he can help the federation rewrite the statement of conditions so that it protects the rights of all involved parties; demand that USATF share at least 50% of revenues; and find out where the alleged $3.52 million dollars that Zimbalist claims is missing due to an “accounting inconsistency”.

You can read his post here.

Seattle's Brooks Sports issued a statement shortly after USATF announced the team in support of Symmonds: 

"Central to our purpose of inspiring everyone to run and be active is supporting professional athletes in their ambition to be at the top of their game and pursue it with vigor. Core to their success are years of support that begin with parents and coaches, continue with clubs and, for those at the highest level, culminates in brand sponsorship. While we’re disappointed Nick Symmonds won’t realize his dream to represent Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, we applaud his leadership in creating a dialogue around athletes’ rights. We will continue to support him on and off the track as a passionate ambassador for our sport and our brand.”


She also wrote a blog post on the Oiselle web site introducing herself, which you can read here.

Howard, who finished fourth in the NCAA steeple finals in early June, joins a talented Oiselle squad in that event that includes 2012 US Olympian Shalaya Kipp, and sisters Mel and Collier Lawrence.

She recently returned from Korea where she finished fourth in the steeple at the World University Games.  Before going to Korea, she ran in the USA championships where she fell in the water (above/photo by Paul Merca) with three laps to go in her semifinal race.

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