TrackTown, USA: A long full day of The One True Sport at Historic Hayward Field. This was the first day of the decathlon and I didn’t want to miss one jump, throw or race, as the Word’s Greatest Athlete competes on the Road to Rio.
The local newspaper had a blurb this morning about Ashton Eaton having a “sore quad”, but nothing seemed amiss to me.
Mr. Eaton finished first in the 100m sprint, crushing the field with a 10.34. And I am very happy I decided to snap the above photo of The WGA’s first long jump attempt, because he flew so far (25′ 8¾”/7.85m), he decided that was that and did not jump again, winning the long jump as well. Putting the shot is not his strongest skill, but Eaton still managed a 7th place spot, and took 5th in the high jump. The final event for the first day is a 400m sprint. One lap might as well be a mile to these tired men. But I do not need to tell you the WGA sailed around the oval, finishing first over-all in 46.30. (In comparison, the men who race 400m for a living ran just two seconds faster today. Ashton has serious skills in running and long jumping.)
At the end of the first day, Eaton leads the field overall with 4560 points. Jeremy Taiwo and Zach Ziemek are close behind with 4478 and 4411.
In the first (of three) finals of the day, women had to run their 10000m in full-on blasting sun. Poor things? Yes and no. Where so many (SEVEN!) men dropped out of their 10000m final last night, only two women did not finish today. A few of the women were wobbling quite a bit as they crossed the finish line, and there could have been a few fainting spells, but… dang… those women are tough. Molly Huddle, Emily Infeld and Marielle Hall will be representing the US in Rio.
In another final, Brittany Reese, Tianna Bartoletta and Janay DeLoach won the bid to compete in the Rio games for the USA in the long jump. Ms. Reese jumped 23’11¾/7.31m – one of her best jumps ever. She is super-popular with the crowds and never fails to awe us all. Watch out world.
The third contest was to select our Women’s discus team. Whitney Ashley, Shelbi Vaughan and Kelsey Card are going to Rio. Who can throw a discus over 204 feet? Whitney Ashley.
2nd heat of Men’s 800m semi
Then it was a Duck love-fest. So many alums and current University of Oregon students competed in sprints this afternoon! I guess they must have enjoyed the “home court” advantage, because the fans really cheer for a local.
Michael Berry will move on in the 400m. A ridiculous SIX Ducks will advance in the women’s 100m. Jenna Prandini and English Gardner finished 1-2. Ariana Washington, Mandy White, Deajah Stevens and Jasmine Todd (who had to pop-over from the long jump pit where she was also competing!) advanced. Is is possible to send three Duck women to Rio in the 100m? Phyllis Francis made it out of the heats in the 400m and Raevyn Rogers in the 800m. The cherry on this feathered sundae is two more alums, (for extra credit, both are native Oregonians, as well) – Cyrus Hostetler and Sam Crouser – qualifying for the the javelin final. It’s a virtual flock, people and it’s only Day 2!
Cyrus Hostetler poses with DT after his throws
There were several ex-con drug cheats in the men’s 100m heats. Yes, yes, they have “done their time” via a two year suspension from the sport, but they are now back… and some of them are about ready to collect Social Security. Can you tell I don’t like drug cheats? Old or young.
Forget about world-caliber racers, throwers and jumpers for a moment and turn your attention to the TrackTown USA executives being introduced to the fans:
Vin Lananna, our own Dave Taylor, Greg Irwin and Sasha Spencer-Atwood
And, for your viewing pleasure, two shots from far up above the Fan Festival, taken at about 10a, just as the fans were arriving. Another hot sunny day in TrackTown USA.
The large building is the new student rec center. It’s really nice.
The meet is broadcast live all day.
As we left the venue, DT stopped by the see the progress on the “Ride to Rio”. This morning, the riders have made it to Phoenix. Go!
This evening, Dave and I were invited to a reception honoring the heritage athletes recognized during the opening ceremony yesterday. The athletes were chosen as they earned a place on the US team during Olympic Trials held at Historic Hayward Field (1972, 1976 & 1980. The event was generously hosted by King Estate Winery at their amazing property, situated on the top of a hill in the countryside outside Eugene.
Distance runner Frank Shorter being interviewed by Jordan Kent
The athletes arrived via motor coach and were escorted to the party over a red carpet, photographed and interviewed by members of the press. Everyone arrived, drank lovely King Estate wines and were served delicious passed appetizers. Lamb “chopsicles”. Pizza from an onsite wood-fired oven, cheeses, fruits, duck confit puffs – just a wonderful assortments of foods and sweets.
USA Track & Field CEO, Max Siegel and TrackTown USA President, Vin Lananna, welcomed everyone and then the athletes were introduced.
Lots of names from the past – Frank Shorter, Kenny Moore, Jackie Joyner Kersey… so many memories.
Otis Davis, in hat, won the gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics by breaking the world record at 44.9 and becoming the first man to run under 45 seconds. Otis Davis is a Duck. He came to Oregon to play basketball, but found his true niche at Historic Hayward Field. Mr. Davis is 83 years old.
Madeline Manning Mims (in grey pantsuit) and Jackie Joyner-Kersey in pink
Adam Smith poses with me
Shot putter Adam Nelson – gold medal in Athens, 2005 World Champions and many silver medals along the way as well. Mr. Nelson is an attorney in Atlanta. He was so appreciative to Dave and I for hosting his family yesterday. Love me some
Tonight was the first time either of us had met John Carlos. Yes, that John Carlos… of Tommie Smith and John Carlos fame. 1968. Mexico City.
John Carlos (left in both photos) was also gracious and posed for a photo with My Driver.
It is interesting to look back on that day. Mr. Carlos says many people tell him their family bought their first color television to watch the 1968 Olympic games, and remember watching his silent protest. What a ruckus they caused in 1968. So much drama then, and today their action is applauded. They received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage! My, how things have changed. Thank goodness. It was amazing to finally meet John Carlos.
We can’t thank the King Estate enough for hosting this gathering. The athletes were overwhelmed with the hospitality and Mr. King sent everyone home with a bottle of Pinot Gris and a corkscrew. My kinda guy.
Until my next update, I remain, your awed and humbled correspondent.
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