The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Penn – And Another Relay Debacle

May 3rd, 2016
6:58 am PDT

Relay Shadow rightWe’re within 100 days of the Olympics, which means that the Trials are around the corner. Penn, with its "USA v the World" format, and Drake with its invitational fields, tend to give us a solid preview of where our elite sprinters are in their development.

The weather at Drake was horrible – it often is which is why I personally don’t like it for National meets – but we did get an awesome men’s 400 with Kirani James (44.08) and LaShawn Merritt (44.22) running the world’s two fastest times! Nothing surprising there given they’re already two of the world’s best. For me, although James won the race, I’d say advantage Merritt because 19.78 says he’s been working on his speed – we’ll see him get stronger later. And Omar McLeod screamed a 13.08 on the heels of his recent 9.99 – he’s dangerous!

Of course Penn is all about the relays, and once again the US men’s 4×1 made news for all the wrong reasons as a botched handoff was front and center. We looked in control until Tyson Gay and Isaiah Young couldn’t connect. Now I have several issues with this. First off, Tyson took the blame saying it was his fault because he made a "rookie mistake", but my question is where? What I saw was Young’s hand moving; then him glancing around; then Young physically turning around! THERE was your problem – zero confidence from Young who apparently really doesn’t understand the relay pass. Rule number one for my sprinters, hold your hand steady and NEVER LOOK AROUND – it only causes your hand to move and the incoming runner will NEVER reach it!

My next issue is why was he there anyway? If we’re trying to put together a squad, why couldn’t you get Trayvon Bromell in town? Because part of Tyson’s excuse was, "we’ll get it right when it matters". Not if you’re not working with the people who’ll be there when it matters! Barring something major Bromell will be part of that team. You’d think USA Track and Field would have gotten him there given how many issues we’ve had with the 4×1!

I have the same issue with the women’s squad. Yes, they got the baton around and they won. But as much as I like the women on the team, at least half won’t be there in Rio! Why aren’t we trying to get the likely suspects together to work? Because across the board Penn seemed lacking in "star power" this year.

Leroy Burrell put it best when interviewed after the race – he was there as coach of the University of Houston. It’s time for change because the folks that have been running this have failed repeatedly! I’ve recently given my thoughts on the relay so won’t say more other than we have less than 100 days to get it right.

On a more positive note it was nice to see youngsters like Kaylen Whitney and Candace McGrone getting seasoning. But just as Bromell was missing, I would have loved to have seen Jenna Prandini involved. There was Sanya Richards Ross and Carmelita Jeter, but no Allyson Felix. And where was Candace Hill – THE most promising young sprint talent in the US? My point being, you’d think that USATF could pull our best together at least once or twice a year – outside the Trials and Games (or Worlds) to act like Team USA. Do I want too much?

All of these things are underlying reasons why that handoff went bad – in my humble opinion.

Anyway, Doha at the end of the week. We’re in full bloom now and the Trials are around the corner. Time to take a look at who might make up this year’s team.

The 400 WILL Be THE Event of 2016

Apr 17th, 2016
3:17 pm PDT

We're only a few weeks into the 2016 outdoor season, and in spite of what's been crazy weather, it's clear that the men's "quarter" is going to be THE premier event of the year! Why do I say this? Look at what we've already seen. At the high school level, the recent Arcadia Invitational saw a 45 Read More...

Wow, I Agree with Carl Lewis

Mar 9th, 2016
12:11 pm PDT

It's been the rare occasion that I've been in agreement with Carl Lewis. He's been "controversial" during much of his association with the sport of track and field going back to the 1980s. But as I read this article I found myself nodding my head in agreement. While I've been trying my best to just enjoy the competition this indoor season, DOPING continues to dominate the headlines Read More...

How to Win the 4×1 in Rio!

Feb 8th, 2016
11:27 am PDT

It's one thing to be dominated in the sprints by an athlete like Usain Bolt, but during the same time span we've seen a comedy of horrors take place in what was also an American staple - the 4x1 relay. The American men haven't won a 4x1 in a major since 2007 - approaching nearly a decade! This is tragic, and the first step to righting this ship in my opinion, is to admit FAILURE and move on Read More...

Can Felix Win the Double?

Jan 26th, 2016
9:49 am PDT

The big news recently is that the Rio schedule has been altered to allow for a 200/400 double for the women. The 1st rounds of the 200 & 400H were flip flopped - the hurdles moving to the evening, the 200 to the morning. Now, instead of the 200 opening rounds being just over an hour before the 400 final, Allyson Felix (or anyone else) will have all day to recover from the 200 before running that 400 final - making this a very doable double now Read More...

World Records and the State of the Sport

Jan 18th, 2016
2:17 pm PDT

British Track and Field has released a manifesto on the status of the sport - changes it feels are necessary to "clean up" the sport of track and field. Among these is the matter of the sports records and what it sees as a full scale revision of track and field's world records. Lord Coe - a Brit and the current head of the IAAF - has stated that he favors the removal of selected world records Read More...

What to Watch in 2016

Jan 12th, 2016
1:24 pm PDT

Olympic years are always exciting for sports fans because that global showcase will take place this summer. That means we will see the best that track and field (among other sports) has to offer - the best athletes competing head to head. Sad that I can't say that in any other year, but unfortunately we don't get this type of competition in any other year with any regularity Read More...

Welcome 2016

Jan 3rd, 2016
8:53 am PDT

2015 was a crazy year. I started it in the hospital at the end of January having had an aneurism and losing my speech - literally unable to talk. I ended it a few days ago in the hospital having my thyroid removed. In between, to the chagrin of many, I've taught myself how to speak again; rebooted myself professionally and personally; and watched one of the most interesting track seasons in recent memory Read More...

Beijing Review

Sep 2nd, 2015
7:05 pm PDT

The Beijing World Championships are over and if you're a fan of the sport you were pleased with the competition. When Worlds first began back in 1983 it was all about a handful of nations - Britain, Germany, Soviet Union, and United States, with everyone else as filler. Now we see gold medal performances from Kenya, Ethiopia, China, Jamaica, Netherlands, South Africa, and Eritrea among others winning medals all over the globe! That's great for the global brand of track and field Read More...

Bolt v Gatlin – Who Will Win Beijing?

Aug 17th, 2015
7:50 am PDT

Beijing is going to bear witness to one of the greatest sprinting showdowns in history when Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin take to the track - first in the 100, then hopefully again in the 200. It's the thing that makes this sport great when it happens - a great head to head matchup of two of the best of all time Read More...