EUGENE, Ore. — Nine more athletes earned their spot on Team USA for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Saturday’s three finals at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
Molly Huddle started the day with her wire-to-wire victory in the women’s 10,000 meters for her second U.S. national title at the distance. The women’s discus will send three first-time Olympians to Brazil in Whitney Ashley, Shelbi Vaughan and Kelsey Card.
The biggest performance came from Olympic champion Brittney Reese in the long jump, and we will start there for five takeaways from Day 2 of the trials:
Brittney Reese in “Beast” form
Reese, who is nicknamed “The Beast,” will be out to defend her Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro after leaping 7.31 meters with a legal wind reading to move up to a tie for ninth on the alltime world list. She also ties Marion Jones for second on the U.S. alltime list. Only Jackie Joyner-Kersee is ahead of her now on the alltime list with her 7.49-meter jump in 1994. The leap was also the best in the world since 2002.
Reese looks to become the first back-to-back Olympic long jump champion in history. Reese should get a lot of attention on the television broadcast during Brazil as she overcame a torn hip labrum from 2013 and returned to form after not qualifying for the final at the 2015 World Championships.
She will be joined by Tianna Bartoletta and Janay DeLoach at the Olympics.
Allyson Felix is a master at masking pain
Allyson Felix, who won gold in the 200 meters in London, still has hopes of attempting the 200-400 double at the Rio Olympics as she pushed through pain in her ankle to reach the women’s 400-meter final. She told the television broadcast that her plan has been to save it all for the final.
Jamaican star Usain Bolt applied for a medical exemption from the Jamaican Athletic Administrative Association after withdrawing from his national championship’s final, and unfortunately for Felix, that is not how things work in the U.S.
“If I could have another month, that would be ideal,” Felix said. “That’s not how it goes here in America so just keep fighting.”
The International Olympic Committee changed the schedule to allow for Felix to attempt the double, but an injury she sustained in the weight room has cast doubt on her ability to qualify for both races. The plan to double came after she won gold at last year’s world championships in the 400 with a personal best of 49.26. Her semifinal run of 50.31 is her fastest of the season.
Bromell is healthier than expected
On June 15, NBC commentator Ato Boldon tweeted, “One of the top young male USA sprinters from last year has a career-threatening injury, and is definitely out for Olympic Trials.” The following day, all signs pointed toward Trayvon Bromell’s U.S. Olympic Trials being in jeopardy due to an Achilles injury from the Birmingham Diamond League meet on June 5.
“I don’t know why people were on Twitter saying it was ‘career-ending,’” Brommell said. “I was like, ‘It ain’t that serious.’”
A 9.94 run with legal wind conditions on Saturday did away with any concerns that it was a “career-threatening” injury, and Bromell said he never believed it was. Bromell’s time was the fastest of all American 100-meter sprinters on Day 2. Americans now may have a better chance at the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro given the uncertain status of reigning Olympic champion Bolt.
Justin Gatlin, who finished second to Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200 at last year’s world championships, also advanced to the final.
Strong squad set for women’s 10,000 meters
Emily Infeld and Molly Huddle took third and fourth at last summer’s world championships and could contend for medals again in Rio.
Huddle was nipped by Infeld at the finish line due to a premature celebration. The two of them laughed off any suggestion of animosity between them and have put that race behind them.
“Molly is the one that I’ve looked up to a ton,” Infeld said. “She’s just amazing and a fierce competitor at the top of the class and at the top of the field. I know she’s going to do amazing in Rio.”
Huddle estimated that it would take a 30:20 to medal at the Olympics. The current American record is Shalane Flanagan’s 30:22.22 run for bronze at the 2008 Olympics.
Marielle Hall also qualified for her first U.S. Olympic team after having just run the event once before Saturday.
Close call for Buffalo Bills wide receiver
The top 12 men in the qualifying round of the men’s long jump advance to the next round. Marquise Goodwin has had close calls in football, but his Olympic hopes just barely advanced—as he finished the first round in 12th place. He fouled his first jump and then recorded a 7.82-meter jump, which is far from his 8.45-meter personal best and world-leading mark.