Random Thoughts on the Olympic Trials

So, who’s been watching the USATF Olympic Track and Field Trials this week? I have. You know, when you’re injured and barely running yourself, there’s nothing quite like watching other people be super fast and in shape while pouting about your own miserable condition. Huzzah. Here are a few random observations:

  • Hurdles are for show-offs. Oooh, look at me, I run super fast. I run so super fast that it’s not enough for me to just run super fast, somebody has to put something in my way that I can jump over. Ten times. Whatever, get over yourself.
  • Steeplechase is weird. Seriously, what is this event? And why is it a different event than hurdling? So, instead of all of us jumping over different hurdles, we’re all going to jump over one, big hurdle at roughly the same time. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s special because some of them have water underneath them? But I don’t understand this, either. Do the horses get to use this course after the people are done?
  • Who put the “field” in “track and field?” I am a sports fan. I really am. But when I hear the phrase “live discus action” I roll my eyes. Hard. I mean, congrats to Lance Brooks and his companions who have made the U.S. discus team, but I can only think that sports like javelin, discus, and shot put remain in the Olympic games only for historical value. Not every sport in existence since Ancient Greece deserves a place in the games. If we’re going to keep discus, I demand a spot for jousting and caber-tossing. Maybe we could also put a guy in a pit with a tiger. Serious question: Do U.S. universities award discus scholarships?
  • Distance running is still king. My love to the speedy women and men of the sprinting distances. I am really, honestly in awe of how fast you can go. But when the race is over in under a minute, it just reminds me how much more excitement, tension, and drama I’ll get watching the marathon. The final moments of the women’s 5000 at these trials was the best excitement I’ve seen so far.
  • In spite of everything, the USATF trials are fun to watch. Much has been made in the media about the still-unsettled tie for third in the women’s 100M race. Only three women can advance to the Olympic team, but Allyson Felix and her friend and training partner Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a dead heat for third in the event finals. Even a photo finish couldn’t resolve the question, leading the New York Times to blast USATF as amateurish for not having a procedure in place to resolve the tie. In all fairness, it’s hard to anticipate a situation arising that would be so close that in-person observation and even a high-speed camera couldn’t resolve the issue. In this day and age sports have become increasingly reliant on technology, but the third-place tie mostly reminds us that however much smaller you can make the space of uncertainty, there always is a space remaining. Various options have been put forward for resolving the tie; I personally prefer a re-race to something like a coin toss, just to assuage everyone involved that the strongest athlete really is on the team. But this is a live-and-learn situation for the USATF. Rest assured, this is probably the first and last time a situation like this will happen. In the meantime, we got a lot of entertainment at the trials, a lot of publicity for the sport, and a great team for London. Looking forward to the games!

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