team usa mens sprinters, hurdlers poised to strike gold in beijing
INDIANAPOLIS - Led by a group of highly accomplished veterans and talented newcomers, Team USA's men's sprint and hurdles corps is ready to challenge for gold at the 2008 Olympic Games next month in Beijing, China.
Led by Tyson Gay , Jeremy Wariner, Terrence Trammell, Wallace Spearmon, Shawn Crawford, Terence Trammell, Kerron Clement, Bershawn Jackson and Walter DIx, this highly gifted group is looking to bring home to America the lion's share of medals in the 100m, 200m 400m, 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles.
Reigning World Outdoor champion Tyson Gay (Clermont, Fla.) will lead the U.S. contingent in the men's 100 meters following his outstanding performance in that event at the 2008 Olympic Trials - Track & Field in Eugene, Ore.
In the Eugene quarterfinal, Gay crossed the finish line in 9.77 seconds (+1.6mps) to break Maurice Greene's American record of 9.79 set in Athens in 1999, as well as Greene's Olympic Trials record of 9.91 from 2004. If that wasn't enough, in the final he posted the fastest 100m time ever recorded by a human being when he stopped the clocks in 9.68 seconds, with a 4.1 meters per second wind at his back, making it ineligible for world record consideration.
Gay, who suffering a cramp in his left leg and tumbled to the track during 200m qualifying at the trials, is back training and says he'll be ready for action in Beijing.
He'll be joined in the 100 meters by recent Florida State University graduate and 2007 NCAA 100m champion Walter Dix (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), who ran a personal best of 9.96 seconds in the first round in Eugene before finishing as the runner-up in the final in a wind-aided 9.80.
A 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 4x100m relay, Darvis "Doc" Patton (Ft. Worth, Texas) qualified for his second U.S. Olympic Team with his third place finish in Eugene in 9.84w seconds. Patton established a new career best with his blistering quarterfinal 9.89-second performance at the trials, which throws him into the mix as a possible medal contender.
After qualifying for the Team USA roster in the 100 meters, Walter Dix (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) set his sights on accomplishing the same goal in the 200 meters at the Eugene Olympic Trials. The 2007 NCAA Outdoor 200m champion, Dix confirmed his status as a big-meet competitor in winning the 200m final with his time of 19.86 seconds, securing his spot on the Team USA roster in both the 100m and 200m.
Finishing as the runner-up to Dix in Eugene was reigning Olympic 200m gold medalist Shawn Crawford (Los Angeles, Calif.), who led a U.S. sweep of the men's half-lapper at the 2004 Olympic Games., Crawford is now getting closer to the form that placed him atop the medal podium four years ago in Athens.
The 2005 World Outdoor Championships 200m silver medalist and 2007 World Champs bronze medal winner, Wallace Spearmon, Jr. (Fayetteville, Ark.), is looking to win an entirely different kind of medal in Beijing. Spearmon came roaring from behind down the final stretch to finish third in Eugene and secure his spot on his first U.S. Olympic Team roster with his time of 12.90 seconds. Spearmon owns the fourth-best time ever in the 200 meters of 19.65 seconds.
Although he finished second at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, reigning world and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner (Waco, Texas) has proven in his last two meets that he remains the man to beat in Beijing. Wariner posted the fastest time in the world this year with his win in Paris in 43.86 seconds, and also ran the second-fastest time this season with his triumph at Oslo in 43.98. He is the only competitor to break the 44-second barrier this season, and with his experience on the sports largest stages, look for Wariner to be tough to beat at the Olympics.
LaShawn Merritt (Suffolk, Va.) ended the 2007 ranked #2 in the world and this season he's making a case for being ranked even higher at year's end. Merritt defeated Wariner for the second time this year at the Olympic Trials in Eugene in 44.00 seconds, which is the third-fastest time in the world this year. He also was first to the line over Wariner in Berlin on June 1 in 44.03 seconds, which is the fourth-fastest time globally this season. As the 2007 World Outdoor Championships silver medalist and 4x400m relay gold medalist, Merritt has proven he can perform well at big events.
David Neville (Valencia, Calif.) performed at his best when it mattered most in finishing third at the Olympic Trials with a personal-record time of 44.61 seconds. Named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year while at Indiana, Neville is a two-time Big Ten Outdoor 200m champion and three-time conference outdoor 400m champ. Neville, who left the I.U. program following his junior year to turn pro, is making his inaugural appearance on a U.S. Olympic or World Championships team.
New hurdles sensation David Oliver (Kissimmee, Fla.) joins two-time silver medalist Terrence Trammell in leading a talented American threesome at the Olympic Games. Oliver won the Olympic Trials in 12.95 seconds (+2.5 mps), matching the time he ran in Doha on May 9 to own the fourth-fastest time in the world this season. Oliver, who won the 2008 U.S. Indoor 60m hurdles title in February, finished the 2007 campaign ranked #9 in the world and figures to improve upon that ranking at season's end.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell (Atlanta, Ga.) who also owns two silver medals at World Outdoor Championships, will look to climb to the top step of the podium at the Olympic Games in Beijing. Trammell, who has been ranked in the top six in the world every year since 2000, is one of the most consistent track and field competitors in the world today. In finishing as the runner-up at the trials, Trammell has finished second at U.S. Outdoor Championships on five occasions, and has won the event twice (2004 & 2007).
In placing third in Eugene and earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, David Payne (Hampton, Va.) proved that his success from 2007 was no fluke. Payne finished fourth at the 2007 USA Outdoor Championships, missing by one place a spot on the Team USA roster for the World Outdoor Championships in Osaka. When American record holder Dominique Arnold suffered an injury, Payne flew to Japan and ran in the opening round the day after his plane landed in Osaka. He went on to win the bronze medal in the final in a personal best time of 13.02 seconds, and ended the season ranked in the top ten in the world (#5) by Track & Field News for the first time in his career.
Bitterly disappointed with his fourth-place finish at the 2004 Olympic Trials in Sacramento, 2005 World Outdoor champion Bershawn Jackson (Raleigh, N.C.) made sure of his spot on the Team USA roster for Beijing in winning the 2008 Olympic Trials in 48.17 seconds, which is the third-fastest time in the world this year. Jackson posted the second-fastest time globally this season with his win at Oslo on June 6 in 48.15 seconds. Although Jackson was ranked #1 in the world in 2005 and has been ranked #1 in the U.S. on three occasions, his victory at the Trials gave him his first U.S. Outdoor 400m hurdles title.
2007 World Outdoor champion and 2004 World Junior gold medalist Kerron Clement (Gainesville, Fla.) ended the 2007 campaign ranked #1 in the world. His winning time in Osaka of 47.61 seconds was the fastest time in the world in 2007, and he ended the campaign owning three of the top six times globally that year. The runner-up at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Clement posted the fastest time in the world this year with his May 3 win in 47.79 seconds in Kingston, Jamaica.
After winning the bronze medal in the 400 meters and a gold medal in the 4x400m relay at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships, Angelo Taylor (Decatur, Ga.) returned to his previous specialty with a vengeance this year. The 400m hurdles gold medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Taylor finished third at the Olympic Trials in Eugene in qualifying for his third U.S. Olympic Team, all three as a 400m hurdler. The 2002 and 2007 USA Outdoor 400m champion, Taylor won U.S. 400m hurdles titles in 1999, 2000 & 2001.
For more information on Team USA at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, visit: www.usatf.org.