This is where the road to Olympic glory begins—the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Over 10 days, scores of events and endless storylines, America's best runners, jumpers and throwers will claw their way toward London.
Keep it dialed in here for the latest updates and analysis.
The Runoff Is Off
Jeneba Tarmoh has pulled out of the planned runoff with Allyson Felix for a berth on the 100-meter team, after the two tied in the trials final. So after more than a week of chatter about the potential runoff or coin flip, and after Sunday's apparent resolution that there would be a runoff, and after this morning's anticipation of a runoff at 8 p.m. EST ... after all that, never mind.
And with that, the 2012 U.S. Olympic track and field trials conclude. Ignominiously. For now.
— Mark Smoyer
What to Watch For: Monday, July 2
Well that's not a headline I expected to write ten days ago, but the third-place tie between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh in the women's 100-meter dash has gifted us a bonus day of racing in Eugene.
Or has it?
Sports Illustrated is reporting that Tarmoh might withdraw from the much-anticipated runoff against her training partner for the third and final spot on Team USA's 100-meter team.
One would imagine the athletes aren't duty bound to follow through on this race, though it's hard to know since this entire situation lacks precedent. We could be kept guessing until the gun fires (8 pm ET).
So to sum it all up:
Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh will race the 100-meter dash tonight to determine which one will contest the event in London.
Or they won't.
If you're just now joining us, welcome to track and field.
Men's 200 Meter Dash
In the last track finals event on Sunday, Wallace Spearmon Jr. took first place after starting the race in the sixth lane. He has qualified for his second straight Olympic games.
Florida State product Maurice Mitchell and Isiah Young finished one after another in second and third place respectively and effectively cashed their plane tickets to London.
-- Alex Hall
Men's 1,500 Meter Final
The Men's final saw much more first-place position changes during the race than the women, with Leo Manzano sneaking his way to first place marking his second appearance on the USA Olympics team.
Matthew Centrowitz finished just behind Manzano at three minutes and 35.84 seconds with Andrew Wheating rounding out the U.S. team. It was a clean Nike athlete sweep of the podium at Track Town, USA.
-- Alex Hall
Women's 1,500 Meter Final
In the longest track event of the day, Morgan Uceny took home first place with an impressive time of four minutes and .0459 seconds to mark her first Olympic appearance.
In what turned out to be a tight finish for second place, Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson finished just .0006 seconds apart. Uceny, Rowbury and Simpson will all be featured on Team USA for the upcoming London games.
Men's 400 Meter Hurdle Final
A messy end to the Men's 400 hurdles, with Angelo Taylor almost running out of gas and Bershawn Jackson diving just short of the finish line.
Michael Tinsley finished first with the time of 48.33 seconds with Taylor and Kerron Clement also qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.
Taylor once again will be wearing, white and blue while Clement and Tinsley will be competing in their first games.
Women's 400 Meter Hurdle Final
The Women's 400 meter hurdle kicked off NBC's prime-time coverage of the various Olympic trials covered Sunday night, with Lashinda Demus taking home first place in the event.
Demus punched her ticket to her second Olympic games with a time of 53.98 seconds while Arizona Wildcat Georganne Moline and T'Erea Brown rounded out the rest of the Olympic team. Moline and Brown finished the race with a time of 54.33 and 54.81 seconds respectively.
Runoff will serve as 100M third-place tiebreaker for Felix, Tarmoh
The tiebreaker to determine third place in the women's 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials has at long last been settled. Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh are scheduled to participate in a runoff on Monday, when one of the runners will punch her ticket to the London 2012 Olympics.
A week ago, officials announced the tie would be broken by a runoff or a coin flip.
Felix and Tarmoh, who are training partners, have waited for a ruling on a tie-breaking procedure since last Saturday's final. The runners each crossed the finish line in 11.068 seconds, and photographic evidence did nothing to help identify a victor, which is determined by torso position.
Third place in the 100 - and the final Olympic spot in the event - will be on the line when Felix and Tarmoh take to the track once again Monday evening.
And so in the end, the result will be determined by exactly what got both athletes to this point in their careers - talent.
Felix, 2010 U.S. outdoor track 100-meter champion and five-time U.S. 200-meter champion, won two medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Tarmoh is trying to earn her first Summer Games appearance.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: SUNDAY, JULY 1
Track Town, USA sends it heroes off in style on Sunday with eight event finals on this last day of competition.
No need to dress that up with rhetoric.
Last day. All finals. What more do you need to know?
Let's get to the headline events.
— Morgan Uceny and Jenny Simpson headline a loaded field in the women's 1,500 meters. The U.S. has never medaled in this event at an Olympic Games, but both Uceny and Simpson are capable of breaking that drought. It would seem America's slow rise in the distance world is finally starting to bear fruit.
— Two-time defending world champion Brittney Reese looks to make her second Olympic team in the women's long jump. In London, she'll want to do better than the fifth-place finish she mustered four years ago.
— Matthew Centrowitz could become the first American since Jim Ryun to medal at 1,500 meters. First, he'll have to hold off Andrew Wheating and Leonel Manzano in the event final.
— Bershawn "Batman" Jackson and Angelo Taylor lead a strong U.S. contingent in the men's 400-meter hurdles. Top qualifier Kerron Clement is another name worth watching as the medal picture takes focus.
— Defending world champ Lashina Demus headlines the women's 400-meter hurdles finals. Demus had little problem in the semifinals, qualifying with the top time in front of Georganne Moline and T'Erea Brown.
— Trials end with the men's 200-meter final, a wide-open race that should lend a thrilling conclusion to this ten-day track-a-thon. Thanks in part to persistent headwind, there were no eye-popping times in the early rounds, but Shawn Crawford, Wallace Spearmon, Darvis Patton and Maurice Mitchell all have enough giddy-up to challenge the Jamaicans in London.
Felix Takes Photo Out of Equation
Allyson Felix didn't leave anything up to photos or tie breakers in the 200-meter final. She took the top spot comfortable with a plus-one wind time of 21.69 seconds. Carmelita Jeter came in second with a time of 22.11, and Sanya Richards-Ross was third at 22.22. All three qualified for the event in London.
Jeneba Tarmoh, who Felix tied with in the 100, came in fifth in this race.
Fountain Rules the Day at the Heptathlon
Hyleas Fountain held on to beat Sharon Day in the women's heptathlon. Fountain finished with 6,419 points and Day ended at 6,343. Chantae McMillan scored 6,188 to finish third and have enough points to join Fountain and Day in London.
Day made a late comeback over the last two events (javelin throw and 800-meter run) by picking 125 points on Day, but it was not enough. Narrow loss aside, she has to be happy with her performance and these three ladies will now all turn their sights to the Olympics.
Aries Proves His Olympic Merritt
Aries Merritt roared easily down the track as he crossed the finish line if first place of the 110-meter hurdles. With a plus-1.2 wind factor, he finished with a time of 12.93 seconds. This was good enough to leave defending world champion Jason Richardson in the dust.
Richardson did take second though with a time of 12.98 and Jeffrey Porter came in third at 13.08. The three are all London bound after their solid performance.
Christian Taylor Cruises
World triple jump champion Christian Taylor had no problem punching his ticket to London. He took one giant leap on his first attempt, and that was all he needed. Taylor sprung out 57'10.25" on his first jump and no one could touch him.
Taylor did attempt a second jump, but it was a foul, and then he called it a day. He passed on his remaining attempts.
William Claye took second and will now join Taylor in London. He went 57'7" on his first attempt. He couldn't beat that on either of his next two jumps and passed on his remaining attempts.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: SATURDAY, JUNE 30
I'll give you three reasons to get geeked about Saturday's event final in the women's 200-meter dash.
Reason One: Speed.
American runners own the season's ten fastest times in this event, making it one of the deepest and most competitive fields at Trials
Reason Two: Fame.
Some of track's biggest names, including Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross and Carmelita Jeter, will toe the line in today's final. No word on whether Lolo Jones will sing the National Anthem.
Reason Three: Controversy.
Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh will go head-up for the first time since their now-infamous third-place tie in the 100-meter dash. Though the matter remains unresolved, one or both can take the edge off with a top-three finish on Saturday.
Speed, Fame, Controversy—the perfect race preamble and perhaps someday the working title of a Keanu Reeves biopic.
For now, race preamble will suffice.
Other events of note:
— The men's 110-meter hurdles final features top qualifiers Jason Richardson and Aries Merritt, along with defending Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver. Oliver posted just the fifth-best time in semifinal qualifying and looks to make up the gap on Saturday.
— Defending world champ Chaunte Lowe is favored to win the women's high jump, but recent history says it won't be easy. Earlier this week, reigning men's high jump world champ Jesse Williams nearly missed out on an Olympic bid, finishing fourth in the event final . He advanced to London only because the third-place competitor did not have an "A" standard height.
— Medal favorites and former college teammates Christian Taylor and Will Claye are expected to make the Olympic team in triple jump. Claye has had the better week so far—qualifying for his first Olympic team in long jump—but Taylor is triple jump's reigning outdoor world champ.
— The women's heptathlon concludes with the long jump, javelin throw and 800-meter run. As expected, Hyleas Fountain and Sharon Day lead the way after Day 1.
EMMA COBURN CRUISES AS EXPECTED IN 3,000-METER STEEPLECHASE
Colorado senior Emma Coburn entered Eugene as a heavy favorite in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase and didn't disappoint, notching an easy victory in the event final and earning her first Olympic berth.
College teammate Shalaya Kipp took third and posted the standard "A" time needed to make her first U.S. Team.
Penn State alum Bridget Franek finished second and will join the Buffalo duo in London.
NO BIG SURPRISES IN 1,500-METER SEMIFINALS
Wheat separated from chaff as expected in the semifinals of the men's and women's 1,500 meters.
On the women's side, medal contenders Morgan Uceny and Jenny Simpson finished first (4:08.90) and second (4:09.12) respectively while running together in the first heat. Shannon Rowbury won the second semifinal in 4:09.96.
For the men, it was a tale of two heats.
Pre-race favorite Matthew Centrowitz and London hopeful Leonel Manzano pushed a healthy pace during Heat 1 and finished tied for first in 3:41.90.
The second heat charted a decidedly less ambitious course, with William Leer finishing first in 3:51.27 and erstwhile prodigy Andrew Wheating taking second in 3:51.40.
Finals for both men and women will take place Sunday.
JASON RICHARDSON, ARIES MERRITT LOOK STRONG IN 110 HURDLES
Defending world champ Jason Richardson and fellow medal contender Aries Merritt posted identical 13.13 times in the preliminary round of the men's 110-meter hurdles and will enter Saturday's semifinal with the top two seeds.
Even better for Merritt, his time came in spite of a stiff, 1.6 meter-per-second headwind. Richardson ran with a slight tailwind at his back.
Defending Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver was solid but unspectacular in his heat, running a 13.32 and qualifying in the fifth postition.
JILIAN CAMARENA-WILLIAMS WINS SHOT PUT
One year after she became the first American woman to medal at a world championship in shot put, Jilian Camarena-Williams finished first at U.S. Trials to earn her second Olympic berth.
Camarena-Williams' winning throw of 19.16 meters was well shy of her season best, but on this day it was good enough for London.
Joining her on the U.S. team will be defending national champion Michelle Carter and 2012 NCAA champion Tia Brooks.
FAVORITES THROUGH TO WOMEN'S 200-METER FINAL
The semifinal round of the women's 200-meter dash produced few surprises, with big names like Sanya Richards-Ross, Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter and Jeneba Tarmoh all making it through to Saturday's much-anticipated final.
World leader Richards-Ross led the way in 22.15, her second-best time this year.
Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, racing in separate heats, finished in a near dead-heat for second—an eerie recollection of their now-infamous third-place tie in last Saturday's 100-meter final.
And they say there isn't a higher power.
Official times gave Felix a .001-second edge and thus the second qualifying position.
Defending 100-meter world champion Carmelita Jeter very nearly missed out on the party, qualifying in the eighth and final position. Jeter, like Felix, Tarmoh and Tianna Madison, is attempting to double in the 100 and 200.
Other qualifiers of note include Kimberlyn Duncan (22.37—sixth seed) and Madison (22.33—fourth seed).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: FRIDAY, JUNE 29
It's something of a 'tweener day at U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, with a full slate of qualifiers and semifinals but just six Olympic spots up for grabs.
The two event finals come in the women's shot put and the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Neither is a historically strong event for Team USA, but Jillian Camarena-Williams does offer the Americans some hope in the shot put.
Last year, Camarena-Williams became the first American woman to medal in shot put at a World Championship, earning bronze. With a repeat performance in London, Camarena-Williams would be the first American female shot put medalist since 1960 (and just the second ever).
Emma Coburn was the only member of Team USA to make the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals at 2011 worlds, and has by far the best time among American competitors this season. She also had the best time in qualifiers and enters the final as a heavy favorite.
Other Friday happenings:
— The first four events of the women's heptathlon. Sharon Day is the event favorite, but she's unlikely to make the podium in London.
— Qualifying in the women's long jump. Eugene gets its first look at two-time defending world champion Brittney Reese.
— Semifinals in the men's and women's 1,500. The metric mile always draws a crowd, and America's fortunes are looking up in the event. Jenny Simpson and Morgan Uceny are serious contenders on the women's side, while top male Matthew Centrowitz recently became the first American-born man to medal in the event at a World Championship since 1987 (Jim Spivey).
— Women's 200 semifinals. Allyson Felix, Jeneba Tarmoh, Carmelita Jeter, Sanya Richards-Ross and the rest of Team USA's 200 hopefuls head back to the track in hopes of making Saturday's much-anticipated event final.
JULIE CULLEY, GALEN RUPP WIN 5,000-METER RUNS
In the women's 5,000-meter run, Julie Culley won in 15 minutes, 13.77 seconds, but the real race ended up being for the third and final Olympic spot.
Julia Lucas (15:19.83) held that spot for much of the race, but she ran out of gas at the very end of the run, allowing Kim Conley (15:19.79) to lean past her at the line and sneak in just under the Olympic "A" standard of 15:20, which she needed to ensure qualification.
Molly Huddle finished second, with a time of 15:14.4.
Galen Rupp (13:22.67) passed Bernard Lagat (13:22.82) at the very end of the men's race to win. Not only was it the first time Rupp had beaten Lagat, he also beat Steve Prefontaine's Olympic trials record on the same track on which Prefontaine broke it 40 years ago.
Rupp also broke the meet record in the men's 10,000-meter run on the second day of the trials.
WOMEN'S 200-METER DASH SEMIFINALISTS SET
Fans who watched the women's 100- and 400-meter finals will be familiar with the field for the 200 semifinals as well. 400 winner Sanya Richards-Ross will be there, as will 100 winner Carmelita Jeter.
Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix, still waiting to decide which one of them will take the third and final spot in the 100, finished with fairly similar times in the 200 prelims as well. Felix ran it in 22.82 seconds, while Tarmoh finished in 22.9.
The women's 200 semifinals will be tomorrow, and the final will be on Saturday.
LANCE BROOKS LEAVES IT LATE IN MEN'S DISCUS THROW
Going into the last attempt in the men's discus final, Lance Brooks didn't have the Olympic "A" standard of 65 meters (about 213 feet, 3 inches), despite dominating the competition. His last throw of 213-9 sent him over that standard and onto the Olympics.
Jarred Rome (207-10) and Jason Young (203-11) finished in second and third place, respectively, qualifying for London 2012.
Ian Waltz, husband of 2000 U.S. pole vault gold medalist Stacy Dragila, finished in fourth and won't go to the Games.
MEN'S POLE VAULT QUALIFIERS DECIDED
Three Nike athletes qualified for London 2012 in the men's pole vault on Thursday.
Brad Walker won the event with an 18-foot, 7 1/4-inch jump. The next four athletes all jumped 18-4 1/2, but second-place finisher Jeremy Scott and fourth-place Derek Miles will go to London.
Third-place Scott Roth has not met the Olympic "A" standard, and fifth-place Mark Hollis had two misses on his final height to Scott's zero and Roth and Miles' one.
Miles missed the 18-0 1/2 height twice while Roth only missed once, putting Roth ahead in the overall standings.
EVAN JAGER WINS MEN'S 3,000-METER STEEPLECHASE FINAL
The top three finishers in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase all met the Olympic "A" standard and qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Evan Jager won the race in 8 minutes, 17.4 seconds. Donald Cabral (8:19.81) and Kyle Alcorn (8:22.17) weren't far behind him at the finish. The gap between them and the next finisher was five seconds, so the top three were ahead of the pack by a slight margin.
AMY ACUFF QUALIFIES FOR WOMEN'S HIGH JUMP FINAL
In the women's high jump preliminary on Thursday, four-time Olympian Amy Acuff qualified for the finals, which will be held Saturday. Acuff jumped 6 feet in the prelims.
You might remember Acuff from her U.S. Olympic Team appearances in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008, or you might remember the 36-year-old from her Playboy cover appearance in 2004.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: THURSDAY, JUNE 28
Aaaaaand we're back!
After two days of press conferences and rampant Felix-Tarboh speculation, the focus shifts back to the track with Day 7 of the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Tracktown USA will have a particularly keen interest in the men's 5,000-meter final, a race that is shaping up to be the most competitive and talent-laden distance event at the trials.
And while there are plenty of runners worth watching in this deep field, keep a close eye on the trio of Galen Rupp, Lopez Lomong and Bernard Lagat.
Rupp, an Oregon native, is the American record holder at 5,000 meters and the rare dark-horse medal contender in an event that hasn't yielded an American medalist since 1964. Lomong is a veteran of the 2008 Games and a Sudanese refugee who escaped life as a child soldier. Lagat, an aging legend of the sport, has abandoned his signature race, the 1,500 meters, in an attempt to secure his fourth Olympic appearance (second representing Team USA).
Three great runners. Three compelling back stories. One fantastic race.
But will all three make the team? Not if fourth wheel Andrew Bumbalough, first place finisher in the opening preliminary heat, has a say.
The women's 5,000-meter final should produce similar drama, with a number of "A" standard qualifiers in the mix for Team USA's three Olympic bids. American record holder Molly Huddle and 28-year-old comeback kid Julia Lucas are the pre-race co-favorites, but neither are the type of dominant performers who inspire total confidence.
Danger lurks in the pack, led by young challenger Abbey D’Agostino and the talented-but-injured Lauren Fleshman.
Other Thursday finals include the men's pole vault, men's discus and men's 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Finally, there's the opening heats of the women's 200.
While that's not usually bold-ink news, there will be ample interest in the event for two reasons.
1. The women's 200 could be the most competitive event at trials. All six of the world's top times this year belong to Americans, a group that includes big names like Carmelita Jeter, Sanya Richards-Ross, Tianna Madison and Allyson Felix.
2. Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh are both expected to compete, further complicating when (or if) they'll line up for a 100-meter runoff.
Competitors will be glad to know that the two-day layoff brought with it a break in the weather. Eugene is expecting intermittent sunshine and a high of 73, a far cry from the drizzly conditions that put a serious damper on many of last weekend's field events.
TRIALS PART 2 PREVIEW: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27
If you love science, you'll love today's off-day press conference, which is all about USA Track & Field high performance. It will feature several prominent names, such as chief of sport performance and 1984 gold medalist Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, sprinter Wallace Spearmon and, if you really love science, bio-mechanist Ralph Mann and Ralph Reiff from St. Vincent's Sports Performance.
For the rest of track fans, today is just another day until the Tyson Gays and Lolo Joneses of the world resume their habitual pattern of dazzling on the Eugene track.
Meanwhile, we're still waiting for Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh to resolve their third-place mess. According to five-time world champion Maurice Green, we should go runoff in the second half of the trials: "This will supersede every other race."
He's right, you know. Everyone wants this—the media would have a field day covering this trial-centric race of the 21st century, and track fans would relish the incredibly exciting winner-take-all contest.
Yes, everyone would love this race—except, perhaps, for Felix and Tarmoh themselves.
After all, the duo still has a series of 200-meter preliminary heats to run beginning Thursday night. If the 100 is not decided by then, count on intense drama if Felix and Tarmoh meet head-to-head down the 200-meter road.
Meanwhile, the trials do have other events going on with finals in the men's pole vault, discus, 3,000 steeplechase and both the men's and women's 5,000 on Thursday.
After making collegiate history by winning four discus titles at NCAA Division II Abilene Christian, thrower Nick Jones will take his talents to the national stage Thursday, attempting to out-hurl competitors Ian Waltz and Jason Young for a spot on the 2012 Olympic team.
In the women's 5,000, American record holder Molly Huddle will attempt to qualify for the Olympic team, while on the men's side, American record holder Bernard Lagat will attempt to return to the Games in pursuit of his third Olympic medal.
And speaking of Lagat, this is where we come full circle. Lagat will serve as lead athlete panelist during today's press conference.
A PAUSE TO REFLECT: TUESDAY, JUNE 26
That's it for the first half of the U.S. Olympic Trials. The competition in Eugene resumes on Thursday, June 28.
Now that we have a chance to breathe, let us review the first weekend of competition:
On Friday, distance runner Galen Rupp impressed as he easily won his marquee event, the men's 10,000 meters. Meanwhile, Ashton Eaton began his two-day assault on the world record in the decathlon, setting a new mark on Saturday.
Saturday, we also saw Carmelita Jeter win the women's 100 while 2008 decathlon gold medal winner Bryan Clay found himself disqualified from the event. Saturday also gave us the famous Allyson Felix-Jeneba Tarmoh controversy in the 100, the final Olympic spot to be decided by a runoff or coin flip.
On Sunday, in the 100-meter dash, Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay punched their return tickets to the Games, while Beijing Olympian Walter Dix missed the mark, finishing dead last in the final with an apparent hamstring injury. Former 400-meter Olympic champ (2004) and subsequent runner-up (2008), Jeremy Wariner missed the cut and will not travel to London, though defending champ LaShawn Merritt and, on the women's side, Sanya Richards-Ross will return to the Games.
Finally, Monday gave us Nick Symmonds and Alysia Montano, men's and women's 800 champions, while high jumper Jesse Williams barely sneaked onto the Olympic team, accompanying Jamie Nieto and Erik Kynard, Jr. to London.
QUICK WRAP: MONDAY, JUNE 25
— On the fourth day of full competition, defending world high jump champion Jesse Williams almost became Eugene's first truly stunning big-name casualty. The man many had pegged to end America's 16-year medal drought in the event survived to make his second Olympic team despite finishing fourth in a rain-mired final. Williams assumes the spot vacated by third-place finisher Nick Ross, who did not achieve the Olympic "A" standard required of qualifiers. Regardless, it was a lackluster showing for Williams.
Mere weeks ago in New York City, Williams posted the world's second-best mark this season. Today was a different story, with sloppy conditions pushing Williams to the brink and raising larger concerns about his fitness for London.
— The Olympic "A" standard struck once again in the men's javelin final, where both of the top two finishers lacked the prerequisite marks needed to make London. The third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishers will represent Team USA this summer.
— Favorites Nick Symmonds and Alysia Montano won the men's and women's 800 meters, respectively. Four years ago, Symmonds was content to peak at trials and secure an Olympic bid. This time around he's focused on the Games, with a keen eye toward making his first event finals. Montano ran a comfortable race, finishing in a somewhat subdued 1:59.08. Montano holds the season's second fastest time and will try to become the first American in over two decades to medal in the 800.
— All the major players in the men's 5,000-meter preliminary round advanced to the event final, including Bernard Lagat, Lopez Lomong and Galen Rupp.
— The U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials take a two-day hiatus starting tomorrow. Action resumes Thursday, highlighted by the finals of the men's and women's 5,000 meters.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: MONDAY, JUNE 25
Our last day of competition before a two-day rest period features five event finals: women's triple jump, men's high jump, men's javelin and both the men's and women's 800 meters.
It isn't an especially strong quintet of events for Team USA, but there are still a few big names in action.
Start with high jumper Jesse Williams. Last year, Williams took gold in Daegu, becoming the first American man in two decades to medal at a World Championship. He has the second-best height so far this year and should be a major player this summer in London. Williams could be the first American male to win a high jump medal since Charles Austin in 1996.
There's another potential drought-buster in the women's 800 meters. Alysia Montano has the chops to become America's first Olympic medalist in the event since 1988. Plus, she runs with a fabric flower in her hair, which I find undeniably chic.
On the men's side, Oregon Track Club's Nick Symmonds is the event favorite. With big names like David Rudisha, Mohammed Aman and Abubaker Kaki lurking in the Olympic field, Symmonds likely won't medal in London. That said, he has the outgoing personality (read: excellent bone structure) needed to woo a certain segment of the Olympic viewing audience.
QUICK WRAP: SUNDAY, JUNE 24
— It was a day for comeback stories in the men's 100-meter dash. 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin, forced out of the Beijing Games because of a doping suspension, continued his improbable return to glory with a first-place finish, clocking in at 9.80 seconds. Tyson Gay, sidelined for most of the past year with a hip injury, took second in 9.85 seconds.
Gatlin's time makes him the second-fastest man in the world this year and Gay's mark slots him fifth. Once counted out for various reasons, both men now have the look of serious medal contenders.
— Things went largely according to script in the men's and women's 400-meter finals. Defending Olympic champ LaShawn Merritt cruised to an easy victory on the men's side, with collegiate hot shot Tony McQuay taking second. In the women's final, Sanya Richards-Ross was predictably without peer.
The Beijing bronze medalist dusted her competition down the homestretch, flashing more of the torrid form that has defined her brilliant 2012 campaign. Now the native Jamaican goes after a double in the 200. Just last year most would have seemed an absurd pursuit, but it's becoming harder and harder to doubt Richards-Ross.
— It looks like the end for Jeremy Wariner. The 2004 Olympic champ and 2008 silver medalist at 400 meters finished sixth in Sunday's final. It's not an entirely surprising result considering Wariner's age (28) and persistent injury woes. His pre-trials times did not read "London." Even so, there was hope that Wariner's big-race bonafides would carry him through to August.
— There's a new face among America's shot-put royalty. Ryan Whiting, a 2010 Arizona State graduate, secured his first Olympic appearance with a second-place throw that ranks him third in the world this season. First place went to London favorite Reese Hoffa, who set a new world-leading mark and now has the season's top three distances. 2008 silver medalist Christian Cantwell took third place.
In all, Team USA has to feel bullish about its shot-put contingent. Thanks to Whiting's strong season, Team USA can at least entertain the possibility of a medals sweep.
UPDATE: SUNDAY, JUNE 24
Sprinting veterans Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay are both headed back to the Olympic Games.
Gatlin, the 2004 gold medalist who served a four-year ban for doping from 2006 to 2010, took first in the men's 100-meter final with a time of 9.80 seconds. Only Usain Bolt has a faster mark this season.
Gay, a 2008 Olympian, overcame injury and a yearlong layoff to post his best time of the year, a 9.86-second effort that puts him just a shade behind top Jamaicans Yohan Blake (9.84) and Asafa Powell (9.85) on the season-leader list.
The third spot went to Oregon native Ryan Bailey, while an injured Walter Dix (the 2008 bronze medalist) finished in last place.
Gatlin looks like a serious medal contender and Gay isn't far off the pace.
Gay now gets a month to nurse his ailing hip while Gatlin heads to London buoyed by the confidence that he is America's best.
UPDATE: SUNDAY, JUNE 24
The eight finalists are set for the Men’s 100-meter final scheduled for today at 4:48 p.m. PT.
Michael Rodgers was the fastest qualifier, winning heat one in 10.0 seconds. Tyson Gay, overcoming a horrible start, finished strong to win the third heat in 10.04.
Justin Gatlin was the Heat 2 winner in 10.06. Three runners chalked up a 10.10 time: Jeff Demps, Trell Kimmons and Darvis Patton.
Ryan Bailey (10.11) and Walter Dix (10.16) qualified on next-best time.
Dix hobbled across the finish line, with an apparent hamstring issue.
Weather at Hayward Field has been cool but dry.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: SUNDAY, JUNE 24
Some of track and field's biggest names will take center stage today with the semifinal and final rounds of the men's 100-meter dash. Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and Walter Dix will all be trying to race their way to London.
Gay is one of the most talented Americans in Eugene right now, but his success continues to ride on how recovered his body is from the surgery done on his right hip. The decorated runner is just two weeks removed from returning to competition, and was training strictly on grass just three months ago.
While the men's 100 should prove exciting, it should be noted the third and final Olympic spot on the women's side is under review. Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh finished third in the exact same time of 11.068 seconds. USA Track and Field officials do not have timetable for when the decision regarding the third qualifying spot will be reached.
Other events worth highlighting on today's schedule are finals in the men's and women's 400 as well as the men's long jump.
The women's 400 features favorites Jessica Beard and Sanya Richards-Ross. The men's side features the last two Olympic champions, LaShawn Merritt (2008) and Jeremy Wariner (2004). Wariner needed a late surge yesterday just to qualify for the final.
QUICK WRAP: SATURDAY, JUNE 23
In the first of three finals today, Ashton Eaton set a new world record in the men's decathlon when he finished the 1,500-meter run in 4 minutes, 14.48 seconds to give him a total of 9,039 points. That broke Roman Sebrle's record of 9,026 points set in 2001.
In the process, Eaton also broke the American and trials records. Dan O'Brien, who held the American record from 1992 until today, was on hand to congratulate Eaton after he crossed the finish line.
After Eaton cleared the track, the women's 100-meter hurdles final was held. Lolo Jones finished third, behind Dawn Harper in first and Kellie Wells in second. Wells led for much of the race until Harper, the 2008 gold medalist, overtook her with about one-third of the race still left.
Jones will get a shot to redeem herself after falling over the ninth hurdle at the Beijing Games. She looked almost certain to win until her fall.
Finally, Jeneba Tarmoh out-leaned Allyson Felix at the finish line of the women's 100-meter dash to earn the third qualifying spot in that event. Tianna Madison finished second, while Carmelita Jeter won the race.
With the win, Jeter will make her Olympic debut this summer.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: SATURDAY, JUNE 23
Today, we'll get a couple of finals in (much) shorter events than yesterday.
In the women's 100-meter hurdles, Lolo Jones will be competing in a close field of runners. Going into the trials, 10 women are separated by three-tenths of a second in this race. Only the top three finishers in the final will qualify for London*, so it will be a close competition.
After that race concludes, the women's 100-meter dash finals will commence. Carmelita Jeter has the fastest time heading into the trials in Eugene, Ore., with her 10.7 seconds more than two-tenths of a second faster than any other competitor. Beijing Olympics veteran Allyson Felix has the second-fastest time. Again, just the top three finishers qualify for London*.
* A maximum of three Americans will qualify, as long as those qualifiers meet the Olympic "A" standard for time.
BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: SATURDAY, JUNE 23
Bryan Clay's bid to defend his 2008 gold medal in the decathlon appears finished. Clay was disqualified in the 110-meter hurdles on Saturday after he clipped the ninth hurdle and received zero points in the event. He subsequently received zero points in the discus after fouling on all three of his attempts. The U.S. was hopeful of sweeping the decathlon medals in London—Trey Hardee, Ashton Eaton and Clay entered the summer as a formidable trio—but those hopes are almost assuredly now dashed.
QUICK WRAP: FRIDAY, JUNE 22
— As expected, Galen Rupp surged to an easy victory in the men’s 10,000 meters, leaving the high drama for his friend and training partner, Dathan Ritzenhein. Ritzenhein needed a top-three finish and an “A” standard time to make his first Olympic team and was able to notch both with a pace-setting assist from Rupp. Hooray, friendship! The victory was especially sweet for Ritzenhein, who earlier this year missed a spot on the Olympic marathon team by just eight seconds.
— A similar story played out in the women's 10,000. Like Ritzenhein, Amy Hastings finished one spot shy of a marathon berth only to run her way to London in Eugene. Lisa Uhl and Kenyan expat Janet Bawcom secured the final two spots.
— Has the future arrived in decathlon? Competing on home turf, former Oregon standout Ashton Eaton blitzed through the first five events of the decathlon. Eaton set decathlon world records in his first two events, the 100-meter dash and the long jump, en route to a commanding Day 1 lead. Billed as the sport's next big thing, Eaton already has the look of a gold-medal favorite. Considering his age (24) and relative lack of major international experience, that's a scary prospect for the rest of the field.
— Rupp, a Portland native and Oregon alum, further confirmed his status as a London medal contender, cruising through the last two laps and even offering an impish smile-and-wave to the home faithful as he came down the back stretch.
— Eugene has its first big-name casualty. David Neville, the 2008 bronze medalist at 400 meters, finished last in his first-round heat. Beijing silver medalist Jeremy Wariner wasn’t much better, taking third in his heat and raising further doubts about his qualification prospects. Wariner does, however, survive to race another day.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: FRIDAY, JUNE 22
Eugene loves its distance events, and fans will get a heavy dose on this first day of major competition with finals scheduled in the men's and women's 10,000 meters.
Oregonian Galen Rupp, American record holder at 5,000 and 10,000 meters, headlines the men's field.
Rupp is the rare American distance runner with serious medal aspiration, and it'd be a shock if he didn't finish first—though we should mention that Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Tegenkamp are also in the mix. Against a relatively weak field, expect Rupp to run a safe race and don't pay his time too much mind. Though the home faithful might tempt him to add gas, he'd be wise to save his best for London.
The marquee name on the women's side is marathoner Shalane Flanagan, but she's only competing as a tune-up. Otherwise this is a fairly weak event for the Americans, with former NCAA champ Lisa Uhl representing the biggest challenge to Flanagan.
If you're looking for some background info on the U.S. trials, we've got you covered. Below, you can find some B/R previews and predictions.
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