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

Early Trials Thoughts

Jun 3rd, 2024
5:24 am PDT

It’s about that time. We’re about three weeks until the Olympic Trials. Here in the US that’s what we call our Olympic team selection meet. Other countries call it something else. While still others use a completely different selection process. No matter what it’s called, or how it’s done, by the end of June we will know who will be competing in Paris! As the season has progressed, there has been much talk about the competitions to date and how athletes have looked. All of which is really preparation for the Trials and the subsequent Olympics.

So, how do things look as we approach the Trials? It’s been a very interesting season so far. With many athletes delaying the start of their seasons. Giving other athletes the opportunity to make moves to improve their positions heading into the Trials. There have been some unexpected performances by previously unknown athletes. As well as some disappointing performances from some very well known athletes. Quoting a line from a song from one of my favorite groups – even the sun goes down, heroes eventually die, Horoscopes often lie. Which somewhat sums up what we’ve seen so far. That said, here are some thoughts regarding what has occurred so far, and who might be headed to Paris.

Women’s Sprints. The big three from Jamaica, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Elaine Thompson Herah and Shericka Jackson, has looked like anything but dominant. Shelly has yet to compete, with rumors of injury. Elaine has run once with aa 11.30, last place result. And after three 200’s, Shericka has a best of only 22.69. After a few poor 200’s of her own, Sha’Carri Richardson ran an easy looking 10.83, to get back into championship discussion. Looking best was collegian Jacious Sears with an early season 10.77, but was then felled by injury. Julien Alfred just ran a PB 10.78, but needs to show consistency at that level. Gabby Thomas looked good early and leads the vets with 22.08. With the world leader being Mckenzie Long of MissSt with 22.02. Abby Steiner has shown fitness with 11.05/22.32, but has gone back into training. What does all of this mean? Lots of questions in Jamaica. Sha’Carri in the 100 and I’m going with Gabby and Abby in the 200 in the US. Globally Alfred will be selected. The ladies coming out of Britain, along with Gina Luckenkemper of Germany and Ewa Swoboda of Poland. Those are women I believe we’ll see in Paris right now.

Men’s Sprints. South African Akani Simbine and Botswanan Letsile Tebogo should be in Paris. Jamaican Oblique Seville looks to have stepped up with his 9.82 and separated himself from his countrymen. Noah Lyles (9.85), Kenny Bednarek (19.67), Christian Coleman (9.95) and Courtney Lindsey (19.71) have been the most consistent Americans. Several collegians have run fast, we’ll see if they can repeat outside of college competition. Names like Fred Kerley, Erriyon Knighton, Trayvon Bromell, and Marvin Bracy Williams, all recent medalists, have been missing on the track, or not up to “speed”. The US Trials is always full of surprises. I see no change in that this year. Noah, Kenny, and Christian have been here before and look healthy. I see them as favorites to make Team USA. Everything else is wide open right now. Globally, it looks like the Caribbean, Africa, and the US until others step up.

The 400’s, Men and Women. Wide open right now. Marileidy Paulino continues to win on the women’s side, but really no one else has stepped up. Pole Natalia Kaczmarek has been best behind her. With a lot of collegiate competitors in the 49 second range. This event will look muddy until after Trials. Same for the men. Steven Gardiner has looked good. Brit Matthew Hudson Smith just ran a world #2 and European record of 44.07. American Michael Norman looked easy in 44.21, but we’ve not seen that special performance from anyone yet this year. Well, we saw a young collegian, Christopher Morales Williams run under 45 indoors, including a WR 44.42 that wasn’t ratified. He’s continued to run 44’s outdoors, including a world lead of 44.02. He has yet to be tested by elites however. So I reserve judgement until then.

Men’s Hurdles. The dominant hurdlers have emerged. In the high hurdles, Grant Holloway continues to win and lead the world at 13.03. Everyone else is literally a couple of steps behind. As Americans dominate the world lists. Jamaicans Hansle Parchment and Rasheed Broadbell have yet to get untracked. In the men’s 400H, Alison dos Santos (46.63), Rai Benjamin (46.64), and Karsten Warholm (46.70) continue to change the event. No one else is close, and they are headed towards something special once again. A dos Santos victory over Warholm in Oslo shows he has no fear of the “Viking”. Expect serious fireworks in Paris.

Women’s Hurdles. The toughest event on the track continues to be the 100H. The are literally twenty women between 12.40 and 12.60 right now. With ten different nations represented. And no one showing dominance. For now this is a pick em race heading towards Paris. In contrast, the 400H is shaking up as a two woman race. As both Sydney McLaughlin Levroni (52.70) and Femke Bol (53.07) just opened up with decisive wins. They are the two fastest in history. And seem to be headed towards another epic race in August.

With just a few weeks until Trials, this is where we sit on the track in the speed events. The most volatile events in most meets. The NCAA Championships will help define some of these events. As several countries will have representatives emerge from NC’S. It’s time to buckle up, because the season is just getting started. I’ll give my event predictions right before Trials.

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