When My Baby Smiles At Me, I Go To Eugene

As exotic as Peter Allen’s lyrical invitation may be, I am not going to Rio. Day-Jena-Arrow.  As close as I’m getting is Eugene, Oregon, home of the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field. I was in TrackTown for last weekend’s events and wanted to share a few images that caught my eye.

Even though I’ve been following track and field intently since the 1972 Olympics,  this was my the first major track meet I’d ever attended. In fact, it’s actually the only one I’d ever seen in full other than my own high school meets more than 35 years ago.

From seeing many of the heroes of my day paraded out to wave to the crowd and bestow medals upon this year’s team, to the (literally) ups and downs of competitive racing, to the sheer magnificence of the athletes performing with so much at stake, it was a weekend to remember.

Here’s some of what I remember from Day One.

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I believe this vague sign was from a local sandal company. Not sure it will ever catch on. What do they even mean by “It”?

 

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Best breakfast of the past 25 years (since leftover Mexican on Half Moon Bay beach). Some kind of Koreanesque hot bowl at Tasty and Alder in Portland.

 

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IMG_2440 Historic Hayward Field is the Fenway Park of American Track. I’d have said Wrigley, but the hometown heroes at the University of Oregon actually win here.

 

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My own hometown hero, Joe Kovacs of Bethlehem Catholic High School, gathers himself before the throw that would put him on the U.S. Olympic Shot Put team.

 

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The 800m was Berry Berry good for Boris Berian.

 

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The top performer of the weekend was no doubt, Allyson Felix. Here’s that moment before she takes the blocks for the first heat of the Trials in the 400m. As beautiful as she looks on television, seeing her run in person was a revelation. She runs like a spider, long swift strides that make the track disappear behind her.

 

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Galen Rupp picks up the flag given to the top 3 finishers of every final, symbolizing their place on the Olympic Team. He already had secured a berth on the marathon team, and his dominant run in the 10,000m left no doubt. He’s the man. And he’s greedy in the best way.

 

One comment

  1. Donald Jankowski · · Reply

    Nice story of your trip to Olympic trials for track and field. I have one comment and a question. First, my wife drove 11 hours from our home in Arizona yesterday to attend her first women’s gymnastics Olympic trials in San Jose. She competed at a high level as a youth and our daughter did as well until an injury at the end of her career. She is now a gymnastics judge and coach and director as she is following her passion after running a family business for the past 15 years. I’m telling you this because I know the passion you share with her for your sport and it is cool to see that in a person. Now the question: What was the slogan of the “sandal maker” while we were in HS before “Just Do It”?

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