A Message from the President/Chair
As I type this message, members of our Olympic Team are arriving at Team USA training camp in Birmingham, England, to prepare for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Perhaps not coincidentally, in a few short days, more than 8,000 athletes age 18 and under will take to the track in Baltimore for USATF’s largest single meet – the Junior Olympic Championships. And in early August, it’s our masters’ opportunity to shine.
For a broad range of athletes, whatever their age, USA Track & Field is doing more than ever to make their experience exceptional.
Team USA settles in for training camp after an exciting month that has seen the sport cast in a new and very visible light. The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene were hugely successful by every measure. A world record by Ashton Eaton, an American record by Trevor Barron and Olympic Trials records galore, including impressive runs by Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross all took place at Hayward Field … Not only did we select a team that has depth and strength in a wider range of events than ever, but more fans saw the meet, seated in a significantly upgraded venue, to create a first-class sporting experience. Millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours were invested. A national recording act was brought in to perform. USATF Member Appreciation was bigger and better.
In short, the presentation of these Olympic Trials were on par with any sport’s top tier event. And for that, we have to thank local organizers, sponsors and especially the fans who made the meet great.
As always, our officials in Eugene did a first-rate job. If you think it’s hard to run, jump and throw in chilly rain, try sitting in it without cover for 12 hours a day! The Olympic Trials is the meet where officials who are at the top of their game oversee the competition by athletes at their peak. As we begin the climb to 2016, we are all looking to ensure that we continue to cultivate a new talent pool to learn from our master officials and continue our tradition of excellence.
These Olympic Trials also marked the first Trials for our CEO, Max Siegel. Thinking it may have been a baptism by fire, he and the National Office staff emerged having broken new ground. In 2012, for the first time USATF fully engaged our Alumni constituency, helping the Alumni host a Legends basketball game, providing our first formalized Alumni ticketing plan, and honoring the 1992 Olympic Team at Hayward Field. We had more sponsors, alumni and VIPs directly engaged with our awards and interacting with competing athletes.
As our High Performance team handled the logistics of the meet, the most high-profile event at Hayward – the dead-heat in the women’s 100 meters – saw many elements of USATF come together. Athletes, coaches, board members, committee chairs, agents, athlete leaders and staff all worked in concert. Everyone has an opinion about the process and outcome. What is indisputable is that, for better or worse, the eyes of the sporting world, and the global media, were on track and field. The drama of competition was on full display, and that’s what our sport is all about.
Even more competition is on tap next week in Baltimore for the Junior Olympics. The Olympic spirit will bridge from Morgan State University to the Olympic Stadium in London. In Baltimore, USATF has worked with local organizers, Morgan State and sponsors to make sure our members at JOs feel more “welcome” than ever. And just as rock band Eve 6 played for fans at the Olympic Trials, recording artist Anthony Hamilton will perform for fans, athletes and their families in Baltimore. It’s a way of saying “thank you.”
And, next on tap are our USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships, August 2-5 in Lisle, Illinois. The meet starts one day before Olympic competition in London. And while Masters Outdoors will have Olympians competing, the almost 1,000 athletes competing are primarily athletes who embody the ideal of lifetime fitness – an ideal we can and should all aspire to.
I hope you will join me in saying thank-you and good luck to all our athletes – Olympic, Junior Olympic, masters, and everyone in between. Now is the time for everyone in USATF to get behind our team. Whether you are watching on TV, online, through newspapers or in person, this will be a special Olympic Games.
We’ll have to wait until August 3-12 to find out just how special. It will be worth the wait.