Posts tagged Lance Deal

“Preparing for the Best” with Lucais MacKay

Courtesy of tracktownphoto.smugmug.com

Lucais MacKay grew up in the sport of Track and Field. He was raised by a track coach in the town of Modesto, CA, home of the one of the premier meets in the 1980′s and 90′s, the S&W Relays. He participated in football, basketball, swimming, volleyball and track through his youth and graduated high school as the #1 ranked discus thrower in the US.  He was also an All-American in the Shot put and Hammer. He attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship, transferred to Moorpark Community College to play football, basketball and track, and then went on to the University of Georgia to continue with track alone.  He won a NCAA title in 2003 in the hammer throw and ended his career as a six-time All-American.

Since 2005, he has competed as a professional hammer thrower and has been ranked in the Top 10 in the U.S. for six years. He now lives and trains in Eugene.  The 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials will be his third attempt at making the Olympic Team and he is excited and vocal about his goals and expectations…

What initially drew you to Eugene to train? Are you part of a group? Who is coaching you now?

Eugene, OR has held a mystique for me since I was a kid. My father, a track and field coach, had photos of great athletes on his office wall. One of those images was Mac Wilkins throwing the discus. I immediately fell in love! Mac attended the University of Oregon; therefore I had to see what it was all about. I first set foot on Hayward Field when I was 15 years old & HAD to live here.

After 7 seasons bouncing around as a professional thrower, I decided, enough is enough, packed up my car and drove from Ventura County, CA to Eugene, OR.

I joined the Oregon Track Club upon my arrival in Eugene to pay homage to my heroes that have done the same. I am currently being coached by Stuart Togher, the Scottish/American curmudgeon genius, who coached Lance Deal to an Olympic silver medal in Atlanta (1996).

Were you training in Eugene in 2008 last time the Trials were here? Did you compete in them?

I had not yet moved to Eugene in 2008, but had rented a 1-bedroom apartment for the month of June to become more entrenched in the town, hoping for inspiration and a PR. I cherished my time in Eugene during the Olympic Trials, taking in the weather, floating the Willamette River, renting a bike, and finding local coffee shops and eateries to enjoy. I failed to make the final, and was devastated but knew there was untapped potential below that result.

Tell us a little about how your attitudes and expectations now, after the past four years, might be different coming into this meet than they were going into that one.

After 2004, I became increasingly bitter towards the sport of Track & Field, feeling that I deserved some support for my efforts. After winning a NCAA title for Georgia in 2003 and becoming the first American to win a hammer title since 1973, I realized I was a man on an island. Over the past 8 years I have realized that there are a number of athletes that also live on this island. Although I feel wronged by my sport, I have come to grips with it. My attitude has become increasingly independent from USATF and my expectations are based solely on the body of work that I have produced up this point. When I lay my head down at night, I know I am living my dream of competing as a professional Track and Field athlete and that drives me daily. It takes a lot of guts to do what we do. I am disappointed in the lack of support the USATF shows for developing athletes and collegiate champions, and am working to bridge the gap between College – National – International athletic success. I have worked as hard as any other athlete and am very proud of my journey to the 2012 Olympic Trials.

How do you feel about the Hammer being up in Beaverton?

I am excited about the opportunity to compete with the best the U.S. has to offer in a pristine setting and a large number of fans in attendance. The day of the competition should make for a lifelong memory and hopefully an opportunity to make the final and the medal stand.  As far as being forced to compete in the Olympic Trials in Beaverton, with a fan base made up primarily of Nike employees that aren’t necessarily Track & Field fans? I’m strongly opposed! … As frustrated as I am about the event, it will most likely be the best event I have competed in.

Aside from your competition, what are you looking forward to most about the Trials this summer?

Being a spectator for nine days of some of the best track and field action in the world. Being a townie has so many advantages this time around, my home is two miles from the Hayward field and I can bike to & from the Trials. I have made so many friends in the sport over the last eight years, and being able to cheer for them means a lot to me. I also plan on hosting one heck of an after party, look for your invitation!

What do you foresee being the biggest hassle/challenge in the experience here in Eugene?

The influx of people creating massive crowds, traffic, long lines & basic chaos. Living in Eugene for two years, one gets used to the pace of the town & for the two weeks of the Trials, that pace will be drastically changed. Athlete seating as a spectator is a topic I hope will not be an issue with the expected sell out crowds in attendance.

Do you have anything/anywhere specific in Eugene that you would recommend other athletes and spectators check out when they visit this summer?

Alton Baker park: walk/jog Pre’s trail. Get to the top of Spencer’s Butte for a great view. Visit Pre’s rock. If the weather permits, rent tubes and life vests from the UO Outdoor program and float the Willamette/McKenzie river on one of the off days. Rent a bike from the Center for Appropriate Transportation (catoregon.org) and see the town without traffic or take a ride along the McKenzie River. Make sure to visit eugenecascadescoast.org for all of the local information, the staff is very helpful and provide insider information as well as local maps and opinions on where, what and when to get the best value for your buck.

Follow Lucais as he prepares and competes this week!

@ Lucfrom209 on Twitter

or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lucais.mackay.

Extra word from him: Keep your ears to the ground for my website promoting the hammer throw and accompanying non-profit organization in the coming months.

Courtesy of ImageofSport.com

“Preparing for the Best” with Britney Henry

Courtesy of Kevin Clark/ The Register Guard

Hammer Time is a special event being planned to kick off the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer. Instead of Eugene, Beaverton, Oregon will be the site of the competition. The Nike World Headquarters will be transformed to showcase these special athletes and lead everyone toward the later festivities down south. With Hayward Field being the historical and iconic site that it is, we wondered what the athletes really thought about this unique separation. Britney Henry filled us in.

Even being a two-time All-American, a PAC-10 champ and a University of Oregon school record holder, Britney has still improved by leaps and bounds since graduating from college.  She has since been ranked 2nd in the US and 14th in the World and thrown a personal best of 71.27 meters (233 feet, 9 1/2 inches).  Currently she spends most of her time in San Diego, training at the Olympic Training Center, where she is close to family and friends, but moves up to Eugene for one week every month to get one-on-one instruction from her throwing coach Lance Deal.  She is an active voice in the female athlete world, keeping a regular blog and doing all she can to raise awareness about sports and the importance of following dreams.

Were you training in Eugene in 2008 last time the Trials were here? Did you compete in them?

Yes I was living and training here and did compete in them.

Tell us a little about how your attitude and expectations might be different now coming into this meet than in 2008.

I had just graduated from college and was new to the career.  I am coming into this one with a much more stable mindset- more prepared to compete as a professional. I’ve learned how to think, train my mind, to calm my nerves, what I need to do physically and mentally to be ready on the day of competition. I see myself as a contender for this team.

How do you feel about Hammer Time and it being separated from the rest of the festivities in Eugene?

I’m really excited! I think any opportunity to get exposure for the hammer is great! This will showcase the event in a new crowd (Portland). It’s always fun for us to be able to show people what we do.

Aside from your competition, what are you looking forward to most about the Trials this summer?

(Laughs)…the Beer Garden! It will be fun to come down to Eugene after our competition is over and just chill out watching the races.

What do you foresee being the biggest hassle/challenge in the overall Trials experience?

I have it nice; when I come down to Eugene, I stay with my coach (kind of off the grid) which keeps me out of the crowds.  I would definitely encourage people to do that, check out restaurants outside of the main areas. Personally, the worst thing for me is the POLLEN!  It hits me pretty hard.

Do you think you have any advantages, being based and training in Eugene?

Yeah, people may still recognize my name from when I competed at the University of Oregon, but I think events here are fun for everyone because the track fan base really understands the sport.  They know what a good mark is and when to cheer and get excited!

Do you have anything/anywhere specific in Eugene that you would recommend other athletes and spectators check out when they visit this summer?

Cornucopia is definitely one of my favorites- the one on 17th, they have a good menu and good beer! I also like Roaring Rapids Pizza in Springfield.

Stay in the ‘ring’ with Brittany from now until the Trials by following her on

Twitter- @hammerlover

Facebook- Britney Henry

and her personal blog- http://britneyhenry.blogspot.com/

or her Project- http://thebritneyhenryproject.blogspot.com/

Courtesy of TheBrittanyHenryProject.blogspot.com

TrackTown Thursday News

2011 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Begin Today

2011 U.S. National Championships

The infield is mowed and trimmed, the extra bleachers are bolted into place, the banners are zip-tied onto the fencing, and the officials, volunteers and TrackTown staff are  trickling in to pick up their credentials, their hats and t-shirts, instructions with last minute details about what to be prepared to do.

The stars of the show — those athletes from all over the country who rarely take a day off from training and focusing on being the best at what they do — are arriving.  Beginning this morning with the junior women’s discus competition, and ending on Sunday afternoon with the senior women’s 200 meters, Hayward Field will be filled with displays of speed, of strength, of courage.  The west grandstand will rock as runners come off the Bowerman curve to fly down the homestretch; the east grandstand will begin a rhythmic clapping to inspire another pole vaulter to clear a higher bar, and then, on occasion, all eyes will focus on a gun held in the air, and absolute silence will descend in the stadium as another race begins.

It is magic.  And if you haven’t seen a track meet at Hayward Field, you’re in for a fabulous experience.   The schedule is packed with excitement.  Tickets are still available.  And if you have the misfortune of not being in Eugene this weekend, you can watch the competition live on Runner’s Space and on television on ESPN, NBC and Universal.  Check your local listings for exact times.   Just be sure to join the magic.

NYTimes Lance Deal This morning’s New York Times has a fabulous article about the hammer throw.  It focuses on the amazing Lance Deal:  “He had not thrown in months. And when he did — gracefully spinning four times and lancing the hammer three stories high and nearly a football field long — he yelped from the effort. Then he grew philosophical.

“The secret of the hammer,” he said mysteriously, “is the pendulum.”

The Times article goes on to describe the perfection of throwing a hammer: “The system is the centrifugal force created when the thrower begins spinning, speeding up to 60 miles per hour while gripping a 4-foot wire attached to the 16-pound hammer. (The women’s hammer weighs just under nine pounds.) The thrower spins four times — the rare hammer prodigy gets away with three — leans back and sits in space. Ideally, the thrower’s arms are stretched straight because, to borrow from physics, the longer the lever, the farther the throw.”

At Hayward Field, the hammer ring is just slightly south of the track — from the East Grandstand, you can watch the silver arc of the hammers.  But in the hammer stands, you can see the grace of the throwers.  Check it out.