The US Outdoor Track and Field Championships is set to start June 25, 2014 in Sacramento, CA. This has been much of a down year for the sport of track and field, as many athletes are gearing up for the World Championships in 2015 and of course the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Despite the ‘so-called’ off year, many athletes have given track and field fans something to look forward to in the future. LaShawn Merritt, who has been America’s leading 400 m runner since 2008, already dipped under 44 seconds at the 2014 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. He and 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James both ran a time of 43.97, with Merritt finishing second to James.
Another American sprinter who has simply dominated the 100 m is veteran Justin Gatlin. Gatlin has put together a string of sub 10 sec. performances, and won the Prefontaine Classic in a wind-aided time of 9.76. In the absence of mega track and field star Usain Bolt, Gatlin has positioned himself as the top short sprinter this year. I’m sure he is eager to take on the likes of Bolt and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake in future meets. From what I hear, Gatlin is a fierce competitor and always looks forward to racing the best in the world.
Another event I’m looking forward to is the men’s triple jump. Will Claye leads the field, but will have to compete against fellow Florida gator Christian Taylor, who is by far one of the most versatile athletes in the sport of track and field (other than of course Ashton Eaton and elite level decathletes). Taylor has impressed many fans with his ability to run the 400 m with the best in the world and continue to thrive in the triple jump. For fans that follow collegiate track and field, this shouldn’t come as a surprise: Coach Mike Holloway, Head Coach for the University of Florida’s track team, would place Taylor in every event possible from the horizontal jumps, to the sprinting events, and both the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays.
The women’s side of field will be interesting as well, with reigning 200 meter Olympic champion Allyson Felix entered in the 400 m and newcomer Tori Bowie scheduled to compete in the 100 m, 200 m, and the long jump. Bowie was a good athlete at the University of Southern Mississippi in the jumping and sprinting events, but no one could have predicted that she would win the 200 m at the Prefontaine Classic against the likes of Allyson Felix, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Blessing Okagbare, and Kimberlyn Duncan. To my surprise, Bowie was able to run an exceptional time (22.18) from lane 1. I’m looking forward to seeing how well she performs at the outdoor championships.
Brandon Spradley is the current Acting Director of Continuing Education at the United States Sports Academy. Spradley graduated cum laude from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in December of 2009 and a master’s degree in Human Performance in May of 2011. Spradley has completed the coursework for his Doctor of Education in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy.