5 Olympic Track and Field Qualifying Upsets
With the Olympic games right around the corner and the lights of London shining their brightest since 1948—the year it was last the stage for this magical occasion—not every athlete that envisioned a spot on their respected team will be making the trip.
These are five athletes who have experienced an unexpected defeat and, in turn, will be watching their event in dismay rather than toeing the line.
Jeremy Wariner: 400 Meters
Jeremy Wariner is undeniably one of the world’s most seasoned 400-meter runners, conquering the Olympic stage with three gold medals and one silver.
This year, however, Wariner will have to reminisce about his previous feats rather than contest for another medal after having finished fifth at the trials.
Although his preparation for this year's Olympics was not without its flaws, he will be questioning where everything went wrong.
Wariner could question many changes. Among them are a controversial coaching change right after Beijing, a battle with injuries and a profound new attitude.
The harsh reality is that he hasn't run as fast as 44.80 in two years.
Maggie Vessey: 800 Meters
Maggie Vessey, one of the most aesthetically pleasing American athletes, suffered severe defeat in the Olympic trial finals in Eugene, Oregon.
Vessey proved her athletic maturity last year at the World Championships in Deagu when she made a hotly contested final in the 800 meters. She finished a respective sixth overall—a sure sign that London was well within her reach.
However, at the Olympic trials, Vessey looked a far cry from the athlete who lined up at the final in Deagu.
She never looked in contention even from the gun, and after the races, she expressed her disappointment to Flotrack.org when she said "I felt out of my comfort zone and was never engaged."
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep: 100-Meter Hurdles
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep put female Canadian hurdling on the map when she crossed the line in bronze-medal position at the Beijing Olympics. She became the first female track and field athlete to win an Olympic medal for Canada since 1992.
Lopes-Schliep’s fine forum continued after Beijing when she won a silver medal at the World Championships in 2009 and became the number-one-ranked hurdler in the world in 2010.
Even though she had the fastest time in Canada this year for the 100-meter hurdles, it did not matter. Lopes-Schliep crashed into the seventh hurdle and finished, shockingly, in fifth place.
The Globe and Mail reported that she said, “(The Olympics is) a big meet, but it’s only one meet.”
Brian Clay: Men's Decathlon
Brian Clay, reigning Olympic gold-medal holder of the men’s decathlon, held his head in his hands after realizing his Olympic dreams were shattered.
Clay’s inconsolable performance fell apart when he tripped over the ninth hurdle in the 110-meter hurdles. As a consequence, he pushed the last hurdle, resulting in a disqualification that was later reversed.
However, thinking his hurdle performance was excluded from the points tally, Clay fouled three times in the discus throw only to find out later that his 16.81 was in fact counted.
His dream of defending the title in London would have meant a chance at becoming the third man in history—behind Daley Thompson and Bob Mathias—to win the grueling two-day event for the second time in a row.
Jenny Meadows: 800 Meters
Jenny Meadows, the third-fastest 800-meter runner ever to grace the United Kingdom, will not be competing at a home Olympics in London.
Meadows is a mature athlete who owns a World Championships indoor silver medal and a gold indoor European medal. She also had a place in the semifinal in the Beijing games.
Meadows faced a number of setbacks this year, but she had recorded seven A-standard performances last year—more than any other athlete vying for the spot.
However, her spot was given to rookie runner Lindsay Sharp, a 22-year-old who has showed good form but does not have the same pedigree.
Meadows will have to hang up her spikes and watch from the stands, something she never envisioned.
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