Olympics Afterglow: 3 Good Reasons to Keep Following Track and Field

Red Shannon@@rojosportsFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2012

Olympics Afterglow: 3 Good Reasons to Keep Following Track and Field

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    One of the greatest spectacles in sport—the Olympic Games—is quietly giving way to the burgeoning media blitz now being directed at Major League Baseball, college football and the NFL.

    And while those major sports will eventually culminate in the World Series, the BCS National Championship and the Super Bowl, respectively, the Olympics do not signal the end of competition for elite track and field athletes.

    If you liked what you saw in London, there is still plenty of world-class track and field action to come. And for anyone with a computer, it doesn't ever have to end.

    In fact, considering collegiate and high school cross country, the indoor season and track's popularity in the southern hemisphere, it is not a stretch to say that track and field is a year-round proposition.

    Yet somehow the myth persists that track and field only surfaces to show its face during an Olympic year.

    Hopefully, we can dispel that myth.

1. The Diamond League Series Continues...

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    Did you know that Jamaica's Yohan Blake just equaled Tyson Gay's American record (9.69 seconds) in the men's 100 meters?

    He—along with Gay—became the world's second-fastest human at Thursday's Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    Carmelita Jeter (USA) squeaked past Jamaica's 100-meter Olympic champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, in the women's 100 at the same meet. Both were timed in 10.86.

    Who says there's been a post-Olympic letdown after the Games?

    The Diamond League is a series of 14 meets at the world's greatest venues, bringing together the best athletes. These athletes accumulate points in each event. The athlete with the highest points total in each event receives cash and diamonds at the series' finale in Brussels, Belgium.

    The next meet is in Birmingham, England this Sunday, August 26 and is followed by meets in Zurich and Brussels.

    Go to the Diamond League homepage for start lists, results and live-streaming information.

    If you like Olympic-level track and field, there are no excuses for missing this action.

2. Track and Field World Championships

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    Every odd-numbered year, something very big happens in the world of athletics.

    Unlike the Olympics, which celebrates the best-of-the-best in several sports, this event is dedicated exclusively to determining the very best athletes in all of track and field.

    It is the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

    As they do for the Olympics, athletes arrange their whole year's activities to peak for the "Worlds."

    The competition, the effort and the results are no less dramatic or meaningful than those at the Olympics, yet there are still some casual fans who believe that track and field somehow goes into hibernation during the non-Olympic years.

    In 2013, your favorite Olympic stars will convene in Moscow, Russia for the World Championships.

    Again, if you are a fan of Olympic track and field and you miss the year-long lead-up to Moscow—including the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships—you have no one to blame but yourself.

3. Hotly Contested NCAA Collegiate Championships

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    The youth movement on display during the Olympic track and field competition is obviously poised to usher in the next great wave of superstars.

    Nowhere in the world has this been demonstrated more than in the American collegiate system.

    And with so many foreign students participating in U.S. university track programs, the U.S. national championship meets bear a striking resemblance to many of the major international invitational meets.

    Add to that the fierce rivalries (and quality athletes) which have developed in both the men's and women's collegiate competition, and you have a ready-made product that is prime for public consumption.

    The NCAA Div. I Indoor Championships (Fayetteville, Ark. March 8, 9) are right around the corner, and next summer's NCAA Div. I Outdoor Championships (Eugene, Oregon) are not far behind.

    Then, of course, comes the previously-mentioned USA Championships.

    There are three big meets right there, which is reason enough to keep following track and field even though the lights have gone out in Olympic Stadium. Not to mention, there will be some high-quality dual and triangular college meets along the way.

    If we still haven't convinced you, at least take in a local high school or all-comers meet.

    We think you'll find that track and field is still very much alive and well.