(March 8, 2012 - Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images Europe)
In an event that the USA has dominated for several years now, one would think it would be difficult for a young newcomer to crack into the rankings. Ryan Whiting proved it could be done. Against the likes of fellow Americans Adam Nelson, Reese Hoffa, and Christian Cantwell, Whiting has risen the bar amidst a world-class field. Competing for Arizona State, he graduated with two NCAA Indoor Shot Put titles and one NCAA Outdoor victory. He was an All-American eight times in the shot-put and discus and set a collegiate indoor shot put record (21.73 meters / 71 feet, 3 ½ inches). Since graduating from college with a degree in engineering, Whiting has gotten married and moved back to Pennsylvania, where he grew up. He resides near Penn State University in order to attend grad school and continue to train. His most recent accomplishment has been winning the IAAF World Indoor title with a best mark of 22.00 meters (72-2 ½). He is no stranger to the rings of Hayward Field and, like so many other athletes, is looking forward to coming back to TrackTown USA for the Olympic Trials this summer.
What is your best track memory from past meets at Hayward Field and Eugene or your highest finish here?
I would say my fondest memory of Hayward Field was making my first outdoor World Championship Team last year. My highest finish in Eugene was at the 2010 NCAA Championships, where I topped off my collegiate career by winning my first discus title and my fifth shot put title — coming 3 centimeters from the collegiate record.
What most impressed you about the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2008?
It is always amazing to me how welcoming the people of Eugene are for track meets. At the Trials the locals were wonderful and managed to fill the stadium every day!
Are there any changes from previous meets at Hayward that you hope to see for the Trials?
The only thing I want to change from my last Trials experience at Hayward is to be one of the three who leave after the competition with a ticket to the Olympics.
As an athlete, what do you foresee to be the biggest challenge in your experience in Eugene this summer?
In U.S. shot putting, there is no sure thing. We easily have the most competitive field of any event to be contested this summer. It will be a challenge, but right now my ONLY goal is to make the 2012 Olympic team.
Aside from your competition, what are you looking forward to most about the Trials this summer?
Track Town Pizza.
Being that the Shot Put gets a lot of attention at meets all over the world, how does competing at Hayward compare to other places in terms of fan support/enthusiasm?
Shot put is definitely one of the up and coming events in track and field. I have always loved competing at Hayward, it is easily one of the most supportive crowds I have encountered!
Are you planning on getting here early or staying after your event to watch the meet and hang out at the festival?
I am planning on getting to Eugene about 4-5 days before the meet to train and get used to the small time change. Unfortunately right when I am done competing I will be leaving and (hopefully) going home to begin my preparation for London.
Do you have anything specific you like to do when you come to Eugene for meets (favorite restaurants/bars, etc.)
I love Track Town Pizza. That all-you-can-eat pizza for lunch is a tough deal to beat for a shot putter. I also used to always go to Villard St. Pub, but last time I was there it was gone.
Have you heard anything about the London Pub, the SuperBlock exhibits/vendors, the live performances, etc. being planned for the meet?
As of yet I have not heard of any of that. It is my fault as I am pretty single-minded in my goal of making the team at this point.
March 8, 2012 - Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images Europe
As we embark on the final seven months until the U.S. Olympic Trials begin here in Eugene — and with the Thanksgiving holiday upon us — we thought it was a perfect day to dedicate the TrackTown Thursday blog to what we’re most thankful for here in TrackTown:
1. The Trails – From Pre’s Trail to the Ridgeline and beyond (the city limits that is), there are just too many great running trails in TrackTown to count – which is why we’ll let this link give you all the great details.
2. Hayward Field – It is hallowed ground in the sport of track and field. Just one meet at Hayward has converted many a non-believer into a die-hard track and field fan. Here’s a little glimpse at some recent “good times” at Hayward.
3. The University of Oregon Track and Field Team – What can we say, in TrackTown USA, we love our Ducks!
4. Record-Breakers – From the legendary Prefontaine, to those who came before him, and those who have come since — at events like the annual Prefontaine Classic — record-breakers tend to be as prolific as the rain here in TrackTown USA.
5. The Oregon Track Club – Attend a week-night run, compete in one of the OTC’s summertime All-Comers meets, run the Butte to Butte, or volunteer to work at a Hayward Field meet, and you’ll see just how valuable the OTC is to TrackTown USA.
7. The Starting Block – This is a fun and popular interactive Kids Zone at Hayward Field, which gives kids of all ages an opportunity to high jump, long jump, shot put, etc. Building track athletes (or fans), one kid at a time.
8. Future Events – Speaking of kids, in July of 2014, the world’s best junior athletes (under 20) will arrive in TrackTown for the IAAF World Junior Championships, bringing an IAAF event to the U.S. for the first time since 1992.
9. Team USA Athletes – Without them, and all the hard work they put into becoming the best in the world, Hayward Field would be a ghost town every June. Get to know Andrew Wheating, Angelo Taylor, Ashton Eaton and Allyson Felix in our TrackTown Spotlight video series.
10. The Olympic Trials – The biggest team trials in the world will take place at Hayward Field, June 22-July 1. It sold out in 2008 and it’s on its way to doing so in 2012! And what better holiday gift to buy that track fan in your life than a pair of tickets to the Trials.
Happy Thanksgiving from TrackTown USA! We hope to see you here in June!
Come July of 2014, the world’s best under-20 athletes, will embark upon the University of Oregon and Hayward Field for six days of competition at the 15th IAAF World Junior Championships.
A bidding committee from TrackTown USA and USA Track & Field attended the IAAF’s annual meeting in Monaco last week, and on Friday morning, presented its bid to host the World Junior Championships to the IAAF Council. The bidding team was well represented by USATF President Stephanie Hightower, 2011 world high jump champion and Jesse Owens award recipient Jesse Williams, and Oregon Senator Ginny Burdick, among others. IAAF Senior Vice President Bob Hersh also sat in with the bidding committee to show his support.
The IAAF Council made a quick and unanimous decision to bring a global athletics event back to the United States, and IAAF President Lamine Diack announced it immediately. The last time an IAAF event was held on U.S. soil was the World Cross Country Championships in 1992.
After hearing that the State of Oregon would play host to its first global track and field event since the World Masters Championships was held at Hayward Field in 1989, the presentation team was able to celebrate with some of the best athletes in the world at the IAAF World Athletics Gala on Saturday evening.
At the gala, two former junior champions, Usain Bolt and Sally Pearson, were awarded with the 2011 IAAF Athlete of the Year awards.
Yohan Blake, the men’s 100-meter titlist this year, earned the Performance of the Year award — along with a photo opp with Jesse Williams.
Four-time world champion long jumper Dwight Phillips was also on hand in Monaco to be honored, along with legendary Bob Beamon and world-record holder Mike Powell for their contribution to the long jump.
It sounds like it’s been a whirlwind (or perhaps a tornado) of crazy amounts of training and injury-scares and blogging and interviews and Picky Bar-making for you — ever since you announced your intention to debut at the 26.2 distance in the Big Apple.
On Sunday we got to watch you become an official marathoner at the prestigious ING New York Marathon. From what you said in post-race interviews, it sounds like you may have hit the wall really hard in those last miles, but you ran 2:37 on your first go-round and were the second American female. That’s insane!
It’s about 36 hours since you finished, and we just got done reading a great article in none other than the New York Times. Wow! What can we say, Lauren? We’re proud.
So we decided to dedicate our weekly Monday Matters’ blog is to you, Lauren Fleshman. You’re a 5k runner who made a huge leap up to the marathon and survived it in impressive fashion. And more than that, you’re a great person who makes our community a better place to be (and a better place to run). We hope your husband is feeding you grapes and expensive cheese right now.
The focus and determination you’ve shown this season has been inspiring, and we can’t wait to see you race back at Hayward Field during the 2012 Olympic Trials. We’ll definitely be tuning in to your always-entertaining blog as you prepare for this next adventure.
This weekend the annual running of the ING New York City Marathon will take place on Sunday, November 5, but several elite local runners will get their start on Saturday in the NYC Road Runner Dash to the Finish Line 5k.
OTC Elite runner Sally Kipyego will toe the line for her first race on American soil since taking silver the 10,000m this summer at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
Joining Kipyego in the 5k from Oregon will be Matt Tegenkamp, Lopez Lomong, and TrackTown USA resident Chris Thompson. Other Americans dashing to the finish line are top runners Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle, Lisa Uhl and Dathan Ritzenhein.
OTC Elite stand-out Lauren Fleshman will continue her resurgent season with her marathon debut on Sunday. Lauren displayed her usual positive outlook in an interview with ESPNW Magazine.
“I could have done a half-marathon or, yeah, I guess I could have trained for a 10K,” Fleshman said. “But who doesn’t want to run the New York City Marathon, you know what I mean? It’s incredible. It’s so far removed from the track that it’s a totally refreshing and new experience for me. I’ve been in the sport for 16 years, I’ve had the same focus for 16 years. This is completely pulling me out of my element. And I love that about it. I love adventure. To me, that’s what this is.
Lauren’s biggest concern? “What happens if I have to, like, go poop? I mean, what do you do? Really. Do you stop or do you just do it?”
Other American women vying for a piece of the $800,000 prize money pie are Jen Rhines, returning to the race for the first time since 2006 and bringing with her victories in the 2011 USA Half-Marathon and 15k distances. Molly Pritz will join Fleshman in her first appearance at the 26.2 mile race. On the men’s side are 1999 champion Meb Keflezighi, Ed Morgan and Bobby Curtis.
You can also Log-on to letsrun.com to see a live feed of the pre-race festivities and catch the race live on Sunday on NBC from 2pm-4pm nationwide. See the official INGNYC Marathon website for a detailed schedule of television and on-line coverage.
Thursday was a special night for the TrackTown USA athletes who competed at this summer’s World Championships. Many of the 17 Oregon-based athletes who went to Daegu were back in town, and joined up at the Oregon vs. California football game to be honored in a special ceremony between the first and second quarters.
University of Oregon coach and the Head Men’s Coach for Team USA in Daegu, Vin Lananna, led eight athletes into the west end zone, as the crowd began chanting: “U-S-A, U-S-A.”
Then Don Essig’s iconic voice rang out the following:
“Let’s have a big Autzen Stadium welcome for the coaches and the outstanding athletes on the field today!
• Representing the Oregon Track Club Elite, and competing for Kenya, silver medalist in the 5,000 meters, Sally Kipyego.
• Oregon Track Club Elite member and four-time US Champion Nick Symmonds.
• Gold Medalist in the High Jump, Oregon Track Club Elite’s Jesse Williams.
• New American Record holder at 10,000 meters; Oregon Project athlete and a former U of O distance great, Galen Rupp.
• Oregon Track Club Elite and U of O alum, Andrew Wheating.
• Gold Medalist in the 4×400 meter relay and University of Oregon Sophomore, Michael Berry.
• Bronze Medalist in the 1500 meters and University of Oregon Senior, Matthew Centrowitz.
• And the Silver Medalist in the Decathlon. Oregon Track Club Elite and U of O alum, Ashton Eaton.
Joining these athletes on the field today are their incredible coaches:
• OTC Elite’s Mark Rowland and Harry Marra and U of O’s Andy Powell and Robert Johnson.
Come cheer on these great athletes this summer as the Road to the 2012 Olympics once again runs through TrackTown USA with the Olympic Trials returning to Historic Hayward Field!”
It was a memorable night all around, from the tailgate party before, to the ceremony, as nearly 60,000 football fans were reminded that Eugene is in fact TrackTown USA.
What Competing at the World Championships Looks Like (if you are Lauren Fleshman)
Ever wonder what it is really like to race at a World Championship event? Oregon Track Club Elite’s Lauren Fleshman ended up competing in Daegu after some incredibly lucky breaks — and some very hard work and incredible races.
Here’s her description of what it was really like for her on race day in Daegu:
The Day of the Race
Korea Time (16 hours ahead of PST)
8am: wake to heart exploding out of chest with realization that today is the World Championships FINAL of the 5000 meters, and that I’m actually in it.
8:01 am: put the covers over my head, count to 100, and try to relax.
8:10 am: calmly head down to breakfast, intent on keeping things chilled out since I have TWELVE HOURS to kill before my race.
8:30am: In the dining hall (which is an amazingly converted subterranean parking garage 400 meters long) pickings are slim. I select a big mug of “brown rice green tea,” some questionable yogurt and cornflakes, 2 hard boiled eggs that are impossible to peel, and some legitimately amazing french toast. One out of four ain’t bad.
8:35-9am: Most days I plop my tray down at a table full of American athletes of various disciplines, most of whom I’ve only seen on TV, and proceed to join in a table discussion, but today its a table for two with Leo Manzano. Despite pulling his hamstring and missing out on making the final yesterday, he balanced his honest disappointment in his situation with encouragement for my upcoming race. It was like the whole spectrum of athletic experience was encompassed in our little bubble, and I left breakfast with a new friend and a compulsion to stretch my hamstrings.
9am: decide to make a schedule for the day and pack up my things for the race so I can relax. The idea is to let the schedule tick itself off item by item so I don’t have to think about it or make any decisions throughout the day. When you are a ball of nerves, even deciding what time to take a nap can make your head explode. Better to get all the thinking done at once.
10:30am: still thinking.
11am: finished packing and planning after a having a horrendous OCD episode which involved switching bags 3 times and quadruple checking that all my items were indeed in the right bags (one for race time, and one for post race since you can’t have certain things in the call rooms that you will want after you are done, etc.) Its really not that complicated, and I’m actually embarrassed I just shared that.
11am-1pm: Called Jesse with skype and we simultaneously watched “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and laughed way harder than the first time we saw it. Actually got worried I was tiring out my abs. Afterwards we talked and Jesse didn’t say one thing about my race, just like a good little husband.
1pm: Tried to nap. Mild heart attack instead. Decided it was better to be around people. Hung out with the roomies and had some good laughs, painted nails, etc.
2:30pm: Made Coach Row come down to lunch with me so I could chill. The buffet was my worst nightmare; one side dish was mashed up soggy tater tots from breakfast, creatively renamed “potato saute.” Barf. Can we say emergency back-up lunch? PBJ.
3:30pm: Showered, primped, and headed over to Coach Row’s for the final wait.
5:50pm: final snack: my last Picky Bar (All-In-Almond) and green tea with Eugene honey sticks (a gift from the runners back home, thanks guys!)
The Trip Over
6:00pm: Check out with the USA Team Staff where they visually check to see that you have everything you need. I passed the checkpoint thanks to my diligent packing and repacking and repacking. Boom.
6:10pm: board the magic bus for the Stadium, full to the brim with athletes and coaches, and plop down next to coach Row where we proceed to discuss the musical career of Luther Vandross.
6:15pm: drive past a breathtaking view of the stadium at sunset, set into the lush, rolling, Jurrassic Park-like mountains like a giant, white, glowing space ship. Both of us silenced by the sight of it.
6:20pm: arrive at the high security mondo practice track, which is 400 meters from the stadium. There are jumbo screens on the infield showing the races, athletes executing various stages of their warmups, and tents surrounding the perimeter filled with coaches and medical staffs and support crews. We set our stuff down in a tent by the USA staff and I get horizontal, passing the time with idle chat.
6:50: get loosened up with the help of Jack Magic.
7:10pm: warm up for race WAY earlier than normal because we have to be in the first call room 40 minutes before the start of our race (most races call you in 15-20 minutes before the gun goes off.) Due to the warm conditions, I only jog nine minutes, with seven of it extremely slow, and the last two minutes at tempo. My focus is my breath, using discipline to re-direct my mind to my affirmations whenever it strays. Basically I ran around telling myself I’m awesome.
7:20pm: stretch, do some activation exercises, fluids, bathroom for the fourth time in an hour, etc.
7:40pm: stride a 200 and grab my belongings.
7:45pm: Hugs and final words from Coach Rowlando, and high fives from the USA Team staff on the way into Call Room #1.
Being Called in to Compete
7:45-8pm: All the women in the race are in a booth together, waiting while the officials check our numbers. Many of us go into a separate room to change out of our soaking wet warmups into dry racing uniforms so as not to get cold while sitting around for 30 minutes in the air conditioning.
8pm: we are driven on golf carts from the warmup track to Call Room #2 underneath the stadium.
8:05-8:15pm: All of us plop ourselves on benches while officials call us up one at a time. For all 15 of us, they distribute a special timing chip bib with our name on it for the front of our jerseys, and check our spikes as well as rifle through the contents of our bags for who knows what. We have to sit there for 10 minutes until everyone has been checked. Then we are (finally) allowed to go into a little area with a 50 meter straightaway for a couple last minute drills and strides.
8:17pm: We are lined up and led single file through various tunnels and small passageways through the belly of the stadium to a ladder that will pop us up 100 meters from the 5k start. Music and cheering gets louder as we approach the ladder until the sounds from up there make us forget we were chit chatting with the woman next to us, and the vibration of the arena seduces the performer in most of us and paralyzes a few with fear. A Japanese girl next to me starts shaking, pulling her hands to her face and groaning quietly, and I am distracted for a moment with empathy for her. I’ve been there and its awful. But in this moment, I look up towards the source of the vibration with wanting.
8:20pm: As I climb up the steps, the small rectangle of bright light expands until my head emerges above the mondo track and the massive stadium engulfs me. I am a fleck of dust in the Universe. Catniss Everdeen in the Arena. Light flooding in all around me and I squint and bury my head to avoid being overwhelmed by the crowd. My knees wobble for a moment, and I repeat my affirmations. The crowd roars in response to some performance, so loud that I want to cover my ears, and I decide to ignore it…all of it. Its just me and this track. Me and this track.
8:22pm: Two strides
8:23pm: Lie on my back and soak in the field until I feel grounded. Step towards the line.
8:25pm: TV camera rolls across us. The gun explodes.
First 3k: I’m all focus. I lose myself in the laps and relax as much as possible. Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency.
5 laps to go: The Africans come swinging around the outside, and I pretend I am one of them: the rookie. Having learned from the prelim that they work together, I try to read their pack dynamics and body language to anticipate when a move will be made.
4 and 3 laps to go: I cover all moves smoothly. I attempt to better my position, but once I do, they go back around me. Its what they do anytime a non-African breaks into their pack, so I adapt my strategy and try to relax once again right behind them.
2 laps to go: The pain is barely endurable, and then 200 meters later, the leaders take off and the pack strings out. I latch on as much as possible with the knowledge that I could easily fall apart at any moment.
1 lap to go: My physical limits are very near, but so is the finish line.
200 meters to go: I am barely surviving, reaching into the corners of the toothpaste tube to squeeze out just a little bit more, and I catch one more woman right before the finish line.
I didn’t know who won, who got medals, who I pipped at the line, what time I ran, or what place I finished. Complete immersion into maximum effort drowned out all my senses. It wasn’t until passing through the mixed zone with the media that I learned how I placed and all I could think about was this:
June 24th: 8th in the USA
September 2nd: 7th in the World.
Just goes to show, you never know what awaits you. Believe in turnarounds. Believe in yourself.
Thank you husband. Thank you Nike OTC. Thank you Eugene. Thank you family. Thank you friends.
Read more about her amazing experience at Worlds on Lauren’s blog.
What a week in Daegu! There were performances that thrilled (Jesse Williams’ gold in high jump), that disappointed (Andrew Wheating failing to make the finals in the 1500 meters, Nick Symmonds’ 5th place finish in the 800 meters) mixed with the expected (Ashton Eaton medaling in the decathlon) and unexpected (Matthew Centrowitz’ bronze in the 1500 meters.) Team USA brought home 12 Gold medals, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze — more than any other country in the world (Russia was second with 19 medals, Kenya third with 17.) TrackTown USA brought home medals total: 3 gold (Jesse Williams, Mike Berry, Keisha Baker) 2 silver (Ashton Eaton & Sally Kipyego) and 1 bronze (Matthew Centrowitz) That puts TrackTown USA in 7th position overall in the medal count! Not bad!!!
Team USA Medals
Carmelita Jeter 100 Meters W
Jason Richardson 110 Meters Hurdles M
Jennifer Simpson 1500 Meters W
Lashinda Demus 400 Meters Hurdles W
United States 4×100 Metres Relay W**
United States 4×400 Meters Relay W
United States 4×400 Meters Relay M*
Jesse Williams High Jump M
Dwight Phillips Long Jump M
Brittney Reese Long Jump W
Christian Taylor Triple Jump M
Trey Hardee Decathlon M
Walter Dix 100 Meters M
Danielle Carruthers 100 Meters Hurdles W
Carmelita Jeter 200 Meters W
Walter Dix 200 Meters M
LaShawn Merritt 400 Meters M
Allyson Felix 400 Meters W
Bernard Lagat 5000 Meters M
Ashton Eaton Decathlon M
Dawn Harper 100 Meters Hurdles W
Matthew Centrowitz 1500 Metres M
Allyson Felix 200 Meters W
Jillian Camarena-Williams Shot Put W
Will Claye Triple Jump M
(TrackTown USA athletes in bold.)
* University of Oregon’s Mike Berry ran in the preliminary heats and wins gold as part of the relay effort.
** University of Oregon graduate Kiesha Baker ran in the preliminary heats and wins gold as part of the relay effort.
After coming from behind — and running a blistering 51.6 final lap, passing 5 other runners –to take third place in the World Championship 1500 meters, University of Oregon senior Matthew Centrowitz told his coach (Team USA and UO head coach Vin Lananna) “I don’t want anything to change. This has been a dream season.”
Centrowitz was in eighth place going into that final lap. But, as he told reporters in Daegu, “They went so hard with 350 to go. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t cover them it was so hard, they were so fast. Each 50 [meters] was just one more guy, one more guy, then I found myself in almost medal position and l kept digging down.”
“It was a tough race,” he continued “and it was similar to the semis with a little tactics in there being involved. It just came up to not giving up that last 200 meters.”
Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop and Silas Kiplagat took the gold and silver respectively. All three medal winners were born in 1989 –the youngest runners in the final.
Centrowitz says that he drew inspiration from Jenny Simpson, who won the womens’ 1500 meters earlier in the meet. “[Her win] made me think it was possible that I could come close to something like that, that is when I really started believing. She set the tone.”
Only three other Americans have won a medal in the 1500 meters: Steve Scott, (1983 silver); Jim Spivey (1987 bronze) and Bernard Lagat (2007 gold).
OTC Elite’s Jesse Williams Wins A Gold Medal in the High Jump!
What a day in Daegu! Jesse Williams jumps 2.35 meters (7′-8.5″) with fewer misses to edge out Aleksey Dmitrik of Russia for the win. Two other Americans also won gold: Jennifer Barringer-Simpson came from behind to win the 1,500 meters in 4:05:40 and LaShinda Demus grabs gold with her 400-meter hurdle time of 52.47.
Williams’ performance is the first men’s high jump title since Charles Austin won gold at the 1991 worlds in Tokyo, on the same exact day: September 1. Barringer-Simpson’s victory is the first for an American woman in the 1,500 meters since Mary Decker-Slaney thrilled the crowd with her win in 1983. Demus’ time is a new American record — as well as the fastest run in the world this year and the third fastest time ever (only .13 off the WR)!
And great performances from a couple of University of Oregon athletes in the qualifying heats: Matthew Centrowitz won his semi-final to breeze into the 1,500 final, and Mike Berry was part of the Team USA 4×400 relay team that won its heat to advance to the final – in a world-leading time of 2:58.82 (Berry’s ran a blazing 43.83 for his relay leg !)
Other Americans did well today too — Bernard Lagat won his heat in 13:33:90 to qualify for the final in the men’s 5000 meters. Galen Rupp also qualified with a 5th place finish in the heat. Carmelita Jeter, Allyson Felix and Shalonda Solomon all qualified to move to the next round in the 200 meters. All four American shot putters (Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell, Adam Nelson and Ryan Whiting) qualified to move on to the final round, and Brigetta Barrett will move on to the finals in the women’s high jump. Dwight Phillips and Will Claye both qualified in the long jump and all three Team USA women will run in the next round of the 800 meters (Maggie Vessey, Alysia Johnson Montano, Alice Schmidt.)