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

Track Shorts

Mar 19th, 2009
2:48 pm PST

In a Track and Field News report from the Adidas Running camp it was revealed that Tyson Gay’s fall and winter training were delayed due to a knee injury. While athletes need a good fall program to prepare them for the season, Tyson as the defending World Champion in both sprints will get byes in both to this years World Championships in Berlin. Therefore he will not have to peak for this years National Championships. Tyson, therefore, can focus his energies on preparing for the World Championships. I wish him good luck.

I must say however, that when I went to his website to check on his status, his site has not been updated since last August. A quick check of many athletes websites showed that most have not been updated since last summer. Athletes please have your webmasters update your sites regularly. The Internet is a great marketing tool, and I would assume that is the reason that most of you now have your own personal sites. Your fans would really like to know how your training is going, what your competition schedule is, and other basic information. Help market the sport by keeping your sites updated with this kind of information. Its great that you list your past accomplishments, but we’d really like to know what you are up to now. It only enhances your image.

Speaking of the National Championships, the Oregonian recently asked why USATF CEO Doug Logan wants to shorten the Olympic Trials. I too ask the same question. While the Oregonian looks at it from the point of view of Eugene as host of the Trials, I look at it from the point of view of the athletes and their preparation for the Games.

Yes, we were not as successful in Beijing as we had hoped, and many athletes performed at less than their best. But in my humble opinion it had less to do with the length of the Trials themselves than the length of time between the Trials and the Games.

I can see perhaps cutting out the first round of events at the Trials, as the first round is really just a matter of sifting the wheat from the chaff and would eliminate unnecessary competition. The remaining three rounds would then be more exciting, and provide better competition for those athletes truly competing for those top three spots on the Olympic squad. But condensing the meet into a few days would only add to the stress of the competition and take away needed rest time. And with athletes competing at the levels we see today, rest becomes a very critical commodity.

So, for me, therein lies the source of our difficulties in Beijing – lack of rest time. Because six weeks between a grueling Trials and a pressure packed Olympics, was just not enough time for athletes to rest, heal, and get ready for the toughest competition of their lives. So rather than compact the Trials, I think we need to make sure our athletes have enough time between Trials and Games to prepare properly for the Olympics! Two months (eight weeks) would much more sufficient.

I understand that there may be scheduling conflicts with the NCAA, NJCAA, or other groups. But it seems to me that it is on them to adjusts for the Olympic Trials and not for the Olympic Trials to adjust for them. After all the job of the Trials is to select the best team possible, but it is the job of USATF and the USOC to have them ready to perform at their best at the Games.

For those that follow the stock market, Nike shares have dropped amid sales outlook concerns. As Nike is currently a major source of revenue for track and field athletes both here in the US and worldwide, I hope the current economic decline globally does not end up having a negative effect on the sport. I would also encourage fund raisers at USATF to aggressively seek out new funding sources for the sport. They are needed if the sport is to expand, but even more so if old funding sources have to “cut back”. I hope this is a priority at USATF.

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