July 9, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. — It took awhile, but a record crowd of 22,847 witnessed some Hayward Magic on Saturday afternoon at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in the form of hurdle superhero Devon Allen. The 21-year-old sophomore, competing in the green and gold of Oregon (no cape, though) roared to the 110-meter hurdle title in a massive personal best of 13.03, decimating a loaded field and sending thousands of Duck fans into a frenzy. Allen got a great start, but his greatness really showed over the final two hurdles, where he buried the field to win by .18 — the largest winning margin in the history of the Olympic Trials.
Behind Allen, it was extremely tight for the final two spots to Rio — 2-3-4 were separated by just one hundredth of a second. After an agonizing wait, the scoreboard revealed that Ronnie Ash (13.21) and Jeff Porter (13.21) took second and third, with defending Olympic champion Aries Merritt the odd man out in 13.22.
But this was about the prodigy in lane 3. Entering the race, Allen hadn’t run faster than 13.32 since winning his first U.S. title in June 2014 — his final race before blowing out his knee as an Oregon wide receiver during the 2015 Rose Bowl. Yet he also hadn’t lost a 110 hurdles race since then, and improved through the rounds at the Olympic Trials, clocking 13.44 into a -1.8 m/s headwind in the prelims and 13.40 into a -2.1 today. He finally got a tailwind in tonight’s final (1.0 m/s) and took full advantage, blazing a 13.03 (.13 pb) that puts him #2 on the 2016 world list. Until today, Jamaica’s Omar McLeod was the heavy favorite to take Olympic gold in Rio and he is still the man to beat — he ran 13.01 to win the Jamaican Olympic Trials on July 2. But Allen is talented, fit and delivers his best in the biggest moments. It would not be a shock to see him on the Olympic podium, perhaps on the top.
2013 world champ David Oliver scratched from the final after picking up a hamstring injury in the semifinal.
|WIND: 1.0 M/S|
Devon Allen interview
Aries Merritt after missing out
In the other sprint action on Saturday, Justin Gatlin ran 19.75 out of lane 8 to take down LaShawn Merritt in the 200. In the same race, Noah Lyles broke the 31-year-old high school record by running 20.09 to take fourth, just ahead of fellow high schooler Michael Norman in fifth (20.14, #3 all-time HS). Ameer Webb (20.00) was the third Olympian.
|WIND: 1.6 M/S|
QT: Gatlin Wants to Help Unite Americans
Gatlin was asked in the mixed zone what he said over the loud speaker to the fans. Gatlin said, “There’s a lot going on in America the last couple of days… It’s sad it happened around the 4th of July when we should all be proud to be Americans….I just challenge everyone (in the stadium). Love someone….Take that love (from the stadium) with you and give it someone you’ve never loved before.”
Gatlin also said he took inspiration from Bernard Lagat’s win before his race.
QT: Noah Lyles Will Go to the Olympics if LaShawn Merritt Only Runs the 200m
Lyles was the happiest fourth place finisher at the Trials. That mainly was because the high schooler ran a tremendous race, set a PR, and broke the high school national record. He felt he had nothing more to give, “I don’t think I left anything on that track.” But also he knew that if LaShawn Merritt doesn’t run the 200m at the Olympics and only runs the 400, then he’ll be on Team USA. (Merritt said he hasn’t decided for sure but he plans to do the double).
Making Rio was a goal of his he said, “We didn’t come out here just to lose, we didn’t come out here to just show ‘Hey we are here.’ We came out here to do out best. We came out to make the team.”
Unless he gets offered a lot of money, Lyles is going to the University of Florida next year where he wants to study digital design. He’s got a big passion for the arts and ultimately wants to have his own brand.
QT: Michael Norman is Super Composed Like Noah Lyles
Lyles and Norman were both great with the media all week and viewed themselves first and foremost as compatriots taking on the giants rather than competitors. If Lyles was the happiest fourth place finisher this week, Norman was the happiest fifth place finisher.
As for today, Norman said overall “it was a pretty good race” but he didn’t hold his drive phrase long enough. He was full of praise for his high school coach who he said didn’t train him as a college athlete or as a pro but as a high schooler.
Unless he turns pro, Norman is going home, then to USC orientation, and then he flies off to World Juniors in Poland.
QT: LaShawn Merritt Has No Pressure in the 200m
Merritt got beat today but gave Gatlin a run for his money. Afterwards, Merritt said he was the most relaxed man in the call room because the 200m is a bonus for him. He decided to attempt the 200/400 double here because he opened the year so fast at 200.
The plan as of now is to double in Rio, but Merritt will talk to his coach before making a final decision.
As for which is harder winning in Rio the 200 or 400, Merritt said it’s a toss up.
Tyson Gay interview
The big names all made it through to Sunday’s final in the women’s 200, with Tori Bowie leading the way in 22.27. Allyson Felix (22.57) cruised through behind Bowie in heat 3, and she’ll be joined in the final by three collegians — Oregon teammates Deajah Stevens and Ariana Washington and Harvard true freshman Gabrielle Thomas.
|WIND: -1.7 M/S|
|1 (4)||Jenna Prandini|
|2 (6)||Ariana Washington|
|3 (7)||Tiffany Townsend|
|4 (11)||Kaylin Whitney|
|5 (14)||Candace Hill|
|6 (20)||Ashley Henderson|
San Diego St.
|7 (21)||Kamaria Brown|
|WIND: -0.9 M/S|
|1 (2)||Deajah Stevens|
|2 (5)||Gabrielle Thomas|
|3 (9)||Joanna Atkins|
|4 (12)||Morolake Akinosun|
|5 (15)||Shalonda Solomon|
|6 (17)||Daye Shon Roberson|
|7 (19)||Taylor Ellis-Watson|
|WIND: 0.4 M/S|
|1 (1)||Tori Bowie|
|2 (3)||Allyson Felix|
|3 (8)||Jeneba Tarmoh|
|4 (10)||Candyce McGrone|
|5 (13)||Deanna Hill|
|6 (16)||Cambrya Jones|
|7 (18)||Kyra Jefferson|
Candace Hill Wishes She Had Raced More This Year
The 16-year-old professional didn’t make it out of the 200 semifinals today (5th heat #1, 23.05) thinks she could have done better if she was race sharp. She said last year with a HS schedule she thought she raced too much but this year she now realizes she’s overcompensated and raced too little.