Posts tagged USATF

‘Behind the Scenes Spotlight’ with Sasha Spencer Atwood

Our last few blogs have been centered around one of the most important aspects of TrackTown12 and that is the Athlete Experience. Go back and read The Athlete Experience hits the Road or Preparing for the Best’ Spotlight with Bridget Franek.  The majority of our planning and efforts have been going to this, with the hopes that each athlete will have an amazing experience. It comes down to a collaborative effort between the Local Organizing Committee, USATF and the USOC; but today’s spotlight is on one former athlete who is making sure the current athletes will be taken care of at TrackTown12: Sasha Spencer Atwood.

Sasha joined TrackTown USA in October and currently serves as the Project Manager of Marketing & Athlete Services.  She returned to Oregon, where she grew up and attended North Salem High, after getting married in May of 2011.  Prior to move back to the Northwest, Sasha worked in show business, on the sets of hit movies like The Blind Side and Joyful Noise.  Most importantly for the athletes, she spent much of her life in their same shoes. Sasha competed at Georgetown from 1997-2001 and followed that up with an eight-year professional career in the 800 meters, while running for Nike. On February 27th, Sasha and her husband, Luke, welcomed their daughter, Eden, into the world. We caught up with her just a week after Eden’s birth.

How has your time as an athlete influenced your role with athlete services?

Sasha: There are so many details that go into hosting an event like the Trials.  At times the logistics of it all can get overwhelming, but when I find myself getting caught up in them I try to step back into my memories of competing at the previous three Olympic Trials.  I picture myself and fellow athletes walking into the scenario and key in on the points that were most important to us.  I try to use this experience to inform the decisions I make, as well as to give first-hand input on plans being made by other committees.

Other than taking care of little Eden, what is the most important task you are working on?

Sasha: One thing I am finding to be true is that very few of the tasks we are working on are unimportant.  Some things may take longer or be more complicated to complete, but because athletes are all so different, you never know what can make or break their experience.  We are working really hard to attend to the details so that the athlete experience is seamless and stress-free, even in the little things.  The biggest piece on my plate right now at TrackTown12 is finalizing the athlete transportation plans.  Getting where they need to go when they need to be there is a huge part of an athlete being able to feel relaxed and prepared to do their best.

At home I am working on figuring how to sleep in only a semi-reclined position with a newborn on my chest. I just can’t bear to put her in the bassinet!

What is the experience you would like the athletes to have when they arrive in TrackTown USA for the Olympic Trials?

Sasha:  I want athletes to be able to take for granted that everything is going to run smoothly.  As an LOC, I want us to have anticipated the needs and concerns of the athletes and have plans in place to address them before the first competitor touches down.  I want them to feel welcome and know how excited we are to have them here in Eugene again.  They don’t call this Track Town USA for nothing!  I hope that all of our enthusiasm translates into the preparations we make for them and the energy they feel coming from the crowd.

 

Monday Matters | The Athlete Experience hits the Road

As mentioned in last Thursday’s Blog, “Getting Closer to TrackTown12 – 120 days to go“, the athlete experience is a very important aspect to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials – Track and Field.  It is when our country’s national team is selected to compete against the world at the Olympics, and even if there weren’t any fans or a festival, the athletes would still be vying for a spot on Team USA.  That is why the TrackTown12 LOC, USATF and the USOC treat the athlete experience with great detail.  From the moment the athlete enters the meet until they are departing from Eugene, we want to make sure they have as few worries as possible (outside of making it to London).

In order to ease their Trials’ preparation process, reps from TrackTown12 traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the 2012 USA Indoor Championships this past weekend to answer questions and take photos, which will be used for credentials.

Many athletes came with questions regarding tickets, the schedule, housing and Hammer Time. They were also pleasantly surprised to get their photos out of the way, though some elected to return later, after they’d cleaned up and done their hair. In all, close to 300 athletes, coaches and agents got their credential photos out of the way and will not have to worry about that come their arrival into TrackTown USA.

There also happened to be some awesome performances on the track during the two days of competition inside the Albuquerque Convention Center.  Saturday’s highlights included a third straight indoor title by Oregon Track Club Elite’s Jesse Williams.  Although it took a couple third-attempt clearances, Williams was able to in solidify his ticket to the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul, Turkey with a mark of 2.29 meters (7-5). Watch his 2.29m jump here.

OTC Elite’s Ashton Eaton also competed Saturday in the qualifying rounds of the 60-meter hurdles and on Sunday in the long jump. Though he qualified to move on in the hurdles after the first round, Eaton selected to only long jump on Sunday, which proved to be a good choice. On his third jump, Eaton soared to a lifetime best and winning mark of 8.06 meters (26-5 1/2), beating out Will Claye (8.02m, 26-3 3/4).

 

Watch more videos on Flotrack

 

Click to watch other highlights.

Bernard Lagat was able to use his kick to win the men’s 3000m – 7:4.54.

Sanya Richards-Ross broke a meet record in the women’s 400m – 50.71.

Leo Manzano kicked past Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp to claim the men’s 1500m – 3:48.05.

Jennifer Simpson won the women’s 1500m after holding off Brenda Martinez. – 4:15.04.

Chaunte Lowe broke the American Indoor record in the women’s high jump. – 2.02m.

TrackTown Thursday | The US Open, Texas A&M Mondo Challenge on tap for this weekend

A big weekend in track and field is upon us as we get further along in the 2012 Olympic year.  Indoor meets are spread all across the country with events in New York, Boston, Pennsylvania, Arkansas,  Texas and Washington. We are expecting some great results and will be following the meets this weekend closely, especially those competitions that have close ties to TrackTown USA.

New on the winter schedule this year is the USATF US Open held in New York City inside the Madison Square Garden.  The MSG has long been one of the premiere venues for sports and entertainment, and the return of track and field for an indoor meet there will be sure live up to that.  The US Open also kicks off USATF 2012 Visa Championship Series.  The meet begins at 6:58pm this Saturday, January 28th and will broadcast the following evening on ESPN2 from 7:00-9:00.

Oregon Track Club Elite athlete and Eugene resident, Jesse Williams, will begin his 2012 indoor season in the MSG as the reigning World Champion in the high jump.

“I’m excited to compete again. I want to back up last year’s season with a good result in my first competition,” Williams said. “It’s always a little nerve-wracking because it’s the first meet, but I’ll be ready.”

Other stars  competing include Bernard Lagat, David Oliver, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell, Nesta Carter, Christian Cantwell, Adam Nelson, Dawn Harper, Kellie Wells, Tiffany Ofili Porter, and Lolo Jones.  Former Duck pole vaulter, Becky Holliday is also set to compete.

For a list of all the athletes that have confirmed that they will be at the US Open and the events they are competing in click here | 2012 US Open Athletes

Get minute to minute updates by following the USATF Twitter @USATrack_Field and join the Twitter conversation with #USOpenMSG

Other Local athletes will head to College Station, Texas for the Texas A&M Mondo Challenge inside the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium. The two-day meet begins Friday, January 17th with a short evening session and continues with a full day of action on Saturday.   A large contingent of the University of Oregon’s Track and Field teams will be on hand, as well as, former Duck and the indoor men’s heptathlon world record holder, Ashton Eaton. Eaton is scheduled to compete in the Olympic Development Long Jump on Friday evening and the Olympic Development 400-meter and 60m hurdles.

Returning for the Ducks will be NCAA pentathlon record holder, Brianne Theisen (Read Today’s Register-Guard Article on Theisen by Curtis Anderson). For more Duck coverage heading into this meet, check out the release at GoDucks.com.

Texas A&M Mondo Challege: Accepted Entries | Results

Finally, a little closer to TrackTown USA, the University of Washington Invitational will be taking place Friday and Saturday.  The Oregon State Women’s Distance Program, Portland State and the University of Portland are among the numerous teams that will be competing in Seattle. Check out FloTrack’s Coverage of the UW Invitational.

Check back Monday for a recap of all the weekends events.

TrackTown Thursday | Planning & Collaborating to create the Best:Meet:Ever

It was a busy day on Tuesday, January 17th in TrackTown USA, as approximately 80 members of the Local Organizing Committee came together at the The Club in Autzen Stadium for a full day of planning and collaborating for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track and Field.

The focus of this specific Off-Site planning event (more are scheduled in the upcoming months) was focused around the event footprint, or the “Super Block” that encompasses Hayward Field and the adjacent fan experience.  Several of the 18 committees presented information about how they will fit into the Super Block in order to create the best possible experience for all constituents: athletes, media, workforce and spectators. There was also an in-depth presentation given on the TrackTown12 Volunteer Experience.

USA Track and Field and the United States Olympic Committee each had representation on Tuesday as well, and provided the LOC with pivotal information.

During the lunch hour, a press conference was held featuring Co-Chair Vin Lananna and USOC’s Director of Business Development, Chester Wheeler. They discussed the Trials being held in Eugene and elements fans can expect to see both inside and outside the stadium.  If you’ve got 20 minutes, you can watch the full conference in the video below.

For more coverage on this action packed day, check out the different links for local media:

Register Guard - U.S. Olympic Committee executive: Eugene hard to top for the track and field Trials

KMTR-TV - U.S. Olympic Committee visits Eugene for TrackTown12 planning

KVAL-TV - TrackTown12: Road to London goes through Eugene

KEZI-TV - 2012 U.S. Track and Field Trials Will Have London Theme

KLCC - Planning for Eugene Track and Field Trials Moves into High Gear

Still need Tickets? All-Session tickets are still available, but hurry they are going fast! Click here to get yours!

Want to Volunteer during TrackTown12? Go sign up here.

TrackTown Thursday: Looking Forward to 2012

With 2011 quickly coming to an end, excitement for the 2012 track and field season is starting build.

The 2012 USA Track and Field Visa Championship Series will kick off on January 28th at the newly transformed Madison Square Garden in New York City for the US Open Track and Field. This will be the first track and field meet inside the MSG since the completion of the first phase of the transformation and renovation of the building.

“The U.S. Open will provide the fast-paced, exciting meet expected at every MSG event,” USATF Interim CEO Mike McNees said. “This will be a tightly scheduled meet featuring the ‘best of the best’ from past Garden meets while providing a fitting kick-off to the 2012 Olympic year. We are excited about our partnership with The Garden and are especially glad that everyone from kids to families to VIPs will be able to access the meet.”

Among the many athletes that will begin their road to London at the Garden, one of TrackTown USA’s favorites, Bernard Lagat, will headline the men’s mile.

Click Here to read the press release from USATF.ORG

Also today, the IAAF announced the distribution of events for all 14 meetings on the Samsung Diamond League circuit. The series will begin in Doha, Qatar on May 11 and will have nine meetings before the London Games. There will be five more meetings after the Olympics, finishing up in Brussels, Belgium on September 7.

Click Here to read the press release from the IAAF.ORG and for the complete distribution of events for each meeting Click Here.

And finally, Oregon Track Club Elite athletes, Ashton Eaton and Jesse Williams, got to take a break from training to fly to Hollywood for a promotional shoot with NBC Sports and the United States Olympic Committee, as they get ready up for the upcoming Olympic Year.

 

Ashton Eaton in front of the green screen. (Photo courtesey of Susan Hazzard. twitter.com/ESusanHazzard)

 

The other track and field athletes that got in front of the the camera were Bryan Clay, Trey Hardee, Jill Camarena-Williams, Dwight Phillips, David Oliver, Lashinda Demus, Dawn Harper, Bershawn Jackson, Carmelita Jeter, Lolo Jones, LaShawn Merritt, Brittney Reese, Jason Richardson, Christian Taylor, Kellie Wells and Allyson Felix.

 

Jesse Williams set for the Road to London (Photo courtesy of Jesse Williams)

 

Get to know Ashton and Allyson in our TrackTown Spotlight video series.

Click Here for the 2012 Olympic Trials Schedule

Click to Buy your 2012 Olympic Trials Tickets

 

Monday Matters – Dwight Phillips weighs in on USATF’s bold bid for change

Recently, Olympian and TrackTown USA resident Nick Symmonds has attracted an onslaught of media attention with his campaign to challenge the national and international governing bodies of track & field to “stop crippling” the sport by limiting an athlete’s ability to feature the logos of multiple sponsors on the competition uniform. (click here to read Nick’s full argument) This raises a bigger, more general question about the marketing and promotion of the sport that USATF addressed this week in a move that has, itself, garnered a lot of attention.

After years of governance issues and difficulty reconciling the disparity between the waning commercial popularity of the sport and the consistently high participation in running activities, officials at USA Track & Field have decided to take a new approach by hiring an external firm to restructure its marketing and communications efforts. Some have questioned the way they went about hiring Max Siegel Inc., as well as the potential conflicts of interest with the principal, Max Siegel, being a recently departed board member. Still, the more pertinent question for USATF members and athletes is, can this move finally put track back on the map?

You don’t have to be a professional track & field athlete or even a serious fan to know that the marketing and promotion of the sport and its stars has been a challenge of late. Gone are the days of national advertising campaigns that featured our sports biggest names. With the exception of one or two international athletes, the average media-consuming citizen wouldn’t the recognize images of America’s track stars, even when they consistently top the podium in major competitions.

In a chat with four-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Dwight Phillips, he said he is optimistic that any change is good change.

“I think it’s going to work. When I travel to other countries what I notice is that no matter if someone is a runner or a thrower, if they’re winning they are on everything. The more the public sees us out there, the more interested they will become in watching and supporting us.”

While Dwight did mention that moving toward the NASCAR blueprint of numerous sponsorships for individuals would give us a shot at the earning potential of other professional athletes, he also concedes, “We’ve got to start somewhere, this is a positive step.”

With that in mind many athletes welcome the help of Max Siegel, someone who is familiar with the inner-workings of the sport as well as a proven success in the greater media marketplace. By all accounts he gets it, and his experience ranges across many media platforms from sports to television development and production, music and entertainment. Hopefully this breadth of knowledge and experience will serve to breathe much deserved life into campaigns promoting what is still the world’s best track & field team.

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.

 

Monday Matters — April 11, 2011

If you’ve been flying in or out of Eugene recently, did you notice the new billboard?

Andrew Wheating is preparing to electrify the Hayward Field crowd once again as he gets ready to compete at US Nationals June 23 – 26.  Will there be another thrilling finish in the 800 meters?

Ashton Eaton is the Indoor World Record holder in the heptathlon – can he match that kind of a performance when he competes against the best decathletes in the country before his home field crowd in June?

And then there’s David Oliver.  Will he match his last Hayward Field performance?  Will he better his American record in the 110 hurdles?

These are all big performance athletes, training for the chance to perform at their peak in Track Town USA in June.  Will you be there to see how big it can be?

Monday Matters — April 4, 2011

As we begin to count down the days until the 2011 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, here at Track Town, USA central we’re watching to see who has met the qualifying standards for the meet.

This week’s qualifier:  OTC Elite’s Nick Symmonds

He thrilled the crowd when he won the 800 meters at the 2008 Olympic Trials; he won again against a world class field at the Pre Classic in 2009 and then went on to win again and again in the 2009 and 2010 US National Championships.  Nick Symmonds loves competing at Hayward Field – and we know he will be in the race at the 2011 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in June.

It is early in the season and not many athletes have met the “A” qualifying standard for competing at Nationals, but Nick bettered the time at his opening race in early March in Melbourne, Australia.  Nick ran 1:45.09 as he took second place to World-record holder David Rudisha of Kenya.

In late June, Hayward fans will again be cheering Nick as he hits the Bowerman curve heading into the homestretch– the west grandstand will go wild — and . . .

We don’t want to jinx anything by making a prediction of what will happen at the tape – you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.  While you’re waiting, check out this cool video series where Nick talks about training and racing . . . and life.