|Aston Eaton and two awesome dudes!|
After an exciting Day 1, the second portion of the Olympic Track and Field Trials was nothing less than fantastic. High, and still undecided drama in the women's sprints, and a World Record in the decathlon by Ashton Eaton.
Rain, again, sporadically poured on the venue and at one time caused the meet director to delay the start of several events. That delay caused my taping of the night's events to get screwed up (poor me). To my amazement, the often criticized (and usually deservedly so) NBC extended the live coverage to show the last two finals. Warm fuzzies to them (thought I would NEVER, EVER write those words).
First, the sprints. In the 100m hurdles, defending Olympic champion Dawn Harper looked awesome. Kellie Wells looked good taking Silver, but the shout of the day came (from me) for the "return" of Lolo Jones.
Jones, in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was on her way to the gold medal when she clipped the ninth hurdle (there are ten). While she didn't fall, the hit was enough to break her momentum. She went from Gold to "thanks for coming" in a split second. In the four years since, she has had numerous injuries, some good races, some bad races and announced her virginity on Twitter. The odds against her were BIG. And, to me, that's why her success is so exciting (let's get that start fixed, Lolo)!
In the women's 100 m dash, Carmelita Jeter won, re-establishing herself as the world's fastest female (arguably, I might add). Tianna Madison was impressive in second and Jeneba Tarmoh nipped Allyson Felix for third. Or did she? Upon further review and after countless looks, from countless angles, the race was declared a dead heat. A dead heat for third in the 100.
Dead heats have happened in track and field before, but not for the third and final Olympic spot. The USATF didn't have a rule to cover this one, so we wait for their decision. A run off? A coin flip? Calling Rich Sands to see what he says they should do?
Then.... there's Aston Eaton. You can have LB James, Tom Brady, Alex Rodriquez and all of the other pre-fabricated sports heroes. I'll take Aston Eaton, stud of all studs.
Dominating his way through the two day Decathlon competition, Eaton needed to run a personal best in the 1500m (the final event) to set a new world record. He paced himself pretty well for the first 2 3/4 laps and then somehow, after two days of grueling competition, found something left for a fabulous last lap, a four second PR (personal record) and the new world's best. It was awesome to watch the crowd carry him through that final lap and even better to see his own reaction.
Not at all lost in the roar of that final straightaway was two of Eaton's fellow competitors, Joe Detmer and Curtis Beach. Beach had the 1500 won, Eaton was closing in on Detmer for second. Coming on that final straightaway, Beach could sense something special was happening. He could hear the crowd, he sensed the history. Ten yards into what could have been his own big moment, Curtis Beach moved out to the third lane, slowed down and looked back. He then shut it down, let Eaton pass giving up his moment so that Eaton could have his. So cool, so classy. Detmer didn't fight off Eaton either and in that wonderful photo of the finish (above), Beach and Detmer are all smiles watching Eaton break the world record.
I love sports and as you know, I LOVE a good track and field meet. I got more than my share of that Saturday night. Ashton Eaton, Dawn Harper, Lolo Jones, Carmelita Jeter... all gave great sport moments. On a bigger picture, though, I love sportsmanship, compassion and awareness. Curtis Beach and Joe Detmer, you guys ROCKED that category.