We’re about a month away from the Trials and the crystal ball is still pretty murky! Usually I have a pretty good idea how the Trials are going to go by now, but so many elites have been quiet – especially the distance crowd. This may be one of the most surprising Trials in awhile.
The colleges have yet to have their Regionals and Nationals – those will take place in the next two weeks. Though I’m not seeing a lot of collegiate athletes making this team. Mainly because a lot of top talent has already gone pro. We’ve had three Diamond League meetings with this weekends competition in Rabat, but the oomph has been missing. Right now it’s sort of like the end of school – right around the corner but it doesn’t feel like it!
Here’s a few observations on athletes from what I’ve seen thus far:
LaShawn Merritt – Top American right now. Blazing fast over 200 (19.78), and right where he should be in the 400 (44.22). In a position to make the team and contend for a medal in Rio. As a matter of fact, I’d consider anchoring him on the 4×1! That’s what I said. No blocks on anchor and he’s strong, fast, and a competitor! He’s ready for Rio.
Carmelita Jeter – I’m scared for Carmelita. She’s been a medalist for so long, and as had been stated by announcers lately, she’s the fastest woman walking right now. Except that is her PR, in Rabat she looked like the struggle is getting real. With the young talent stepping up, this could be the end of the road, as Boys to Men once sung.
David Oliver – Oliver showed signs of life in Rabat running 13.12. He looked like a veteran running a solid race as opposed to an explosive one – but he got the win in a competitive time. With a month to go I’m feeling pretty good about his chances right about now.
Hannah Cunliffe – 10.99 at Mt SAC, a pair of 11.08s at PAC 12s, and 22.49 say she’s going to be competitive at the Trials. What I really like however, is how she blazes the turn on that Oregon 4×1! I want to see her make the team for that alone. Give me a lead off, Felix on the backstretch, Hannah on the turn, and Tori Bowie on anchor – GOLD. I’m just sayin.
Justin Gatlin – A windy 9.90 and a pair of 9.94s he’ll be hard to beat at Trials and should lead our sprint Corp to Rio. And I’m tired of hearing he served a ban and shouldn’t be allowed to compete. When Lord Coe says the same about Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell Brown, Yohan Blake, and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce – all of whom have served bans – I’ll be willing to have that discussion. Until then Coe, announcers, and everyone else needs to drop it – and the head of USATF should be saying the same thing instead of sitting in silence!
Tori Bowie – At 10.80, 10.91, and 22.26 she’s America’s best right now. I suspect that unless someone steps up big time she’ll be our best in Rio as well. As a matter of fact, I believe she’ll be sub 22 in Rio,adding to the group of Felix, Schippers, and Thompson. Oh, she should be bringing the stick home on the 4×1!
Tyson Gay – I’m worried about Tyson. Hasn’t looked sharp,and he’s a power sprinter, not a finesse guy. He’s probably still our best turn runner – and he and Gatlin have synergy on second and third legs. So I’m hoping he comes through at Trials. But that mountain man beard look – it needs to go.
Sandi Morris – We have a new pole vaulter! And at 15’10th she’s very good. We’ve always had one of the world’s best.. First Stacy Dragila, then Jenn Suhr. For the first time however, we’ve actually got a one, two punch in the pole vault with Morris & Suhr which I find pretty awesome.
What about the competition? Who’s ready internationally?
Omar McLeod – McLeod has been dominating the hurdles the way Merritt did in 2012. Merritt did it with awesome technique. Mc Leod is doing it with 9.99 speed. The world has yet to catch up.
Dafne Schippers – Schippers is running like a sub 22 sprinter, having opened up at 22.25, before blitzing 22.02 this past weekend in horrible conditions! Oh, she also opened at 10.83 running Bowie to the line. She’s a force to be reckoned with.
Asbel Kiprop – He makes running the mile look WAY too easy! His 3:32.15 looked like a stroll in the park, as he dominated many of the world’s best. I can’t wait to see him in action in Rio.
Elaine Thompson – Shelley Ann Fraser Pryce is the defending Olympic champion, but Thompson is looking like Jamaica’s best. Her 10.71 was windy, but was dominant just the same. Jamaica Trials 100 will be interesting.
Kirani James – LaShawn Merritt (19.78) and Wayde van Niekerk (9.98) have been showing their speed in other events, James 44.08 just runs the quarter. The Rio men’s 400 is going to be one of the hottest finals on the track and Kirani will be in the mix.
It’s still early, yet so close. Trials are around the corner. Rio is less than 100 days. Prefontaine is next week. There’s a big 100 field lined up for Pre and Jamaica is putting Bolt, Powell and Blake on the track BEFORE Trials! NCAA has both Regionals and Nationals within about 14 days. This sport is about to Turn Up!