By N M Lorde
After 11 grueling days of track runs, swim laps and acrobatics – the
U.S. Olympic trials, which were held from June 21 – July 1, are
finally over. More than 175 athletes qualified for the London Games
during the last week of competition for trials for gymnastics, track &
field and swimming.
TRACK & FIELD
Perhaps the most discussed story of the trials was the dead-heat
between 26-year-old Allyson Felix and 22-year-old Jeneba Tarmoh in the final of the women’s 100-meter dash. Both women tied for third place, the final qualifying spot for the Olympics in that event. The two athletes were to participate in a run-off to determine who would earn their spot on the Olympic team, but Tarmoh, to everyone’s surprise, conceded the spot to Felix. Tarmoh was announced the third-place winner in the original race before a review declared it a tie. The San Jose, California resident didn’t believe a do-over was fair and passed on the run-off, although she is still going to the Olympics as a member of the 400-meter relay pool.
Dozens of other track & field athletes were also chosen to represent Team USA at the London Olympics, including 36-year-old high-jumper Amy Acuff (Port Arthur, Texas) who made her fifth Olympic Team and 19-year-old Trevor Barron (Bethel Park, Pennsylvania), who broke the American record in the men’s 20,000-meter race walk.
Before the 100-meter bailout occurred, the media focused on Ashton Eaton’s impressive decathlon performance. The 24-year-old from Portland, Oregon scored a new world record total of 9,039 points – recognizing Eaton as the gold-medal decathlete favorite heading into the London Olympics.
USA Gymnastics announced its five-woman team. Most notably, 16-year-old Virginia native Gabby Douglas upset the defending world all-around champ 17-year-old Jordyn Wieber (DeWitt, Michigan) – although both girls earned a qualifying spot on the U.S. Team. Douglas amazed the crowd with her Cirque du Soleil-worthy acrobatics on uneven
bars, making her a huge contender for an individual title and a key force in America’s push for a team gold medal. Joining Douglas and Wieber on the starting five are fellow gymnasts 16-year-old McKayla Maroney (Long Beach, California), 18-year-old Aly Raisman (Needham, Massachusetts) and Kyla Ross (Aliso Viejo, California). Ross, at 15-years-old, is the youngest gymnast on Team USA. In the end, five male and five female gymnasts were chosen for the 2012 U.S. Olympic
Fourteen-time gold medalist Michael Phelps (Baltimore, Maryland) narrowly beat Ryan Lochte (originally from Canandaigua, New York) to a first place finish in the men’s 200m Individual medley although Lochte dominated the 400m Individual medley on the first night of the trials. The 27-year-olds are the world’s greatest swimmers and top
rivals to look out for in the London Olympics. Phelps will attempt to add to his roster of gold medals although he has decided to compete in seven events instead of eight, forgoing a repeat of the Beijing Olympics. In total, 45 U.S. swimmers have earned nominations to the 2012 Olympic Games, including 17-year-old newcomer Missy Franklin (Centennial, Colorado), who will swim a U.S. women’s-record seven events in London.
LAS VEGAS RESIDENTS QUALIFY FOR OLYMPICS
MICHAEL HUNTER JR. – BOXING
After failing to go to the 2008 Olympics as a superheavyweight, 24-year-old Hunter qualified for the 2012 Olympics as a heavyweight, 201 lbs limit. The Palo Verde High graduate is the son of Mike (not ‘Dog’) “the Bounty” Hunter – a former boxer himself. In 2006, Mike Sr. was killed in a police shootout. The younger Hunter has previously said he uses his father’s death as motivation – that his father would want him to follow his dreams.
KHADEVIS ROBINSON – 800 METERS
The UNLV assistant track and field coach secured a spot running the 800m race on the U.S. Olympic team, after coming in second place in the track finals. The 35-year-old is a four-time US champion who has competed at six consecutive editions of the World Championships in Athletics, from 1999 to 2009. Robinson, who is also a motivational speaker, represented the U.S. at the 2004 Athens Olympics, but narrowly missed a chance to participate in the Beijing Olympics by finishing fourth in the 800m race.