Beaverton, Ore. – Amber Campbell and Kibwe Johnson were crowned as the first champions of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field as they took first place in the men’s and women’s hammer throw.
Approximately 3,000 fans were on hand to watch the hammer throw on the campus of Nike’s world-wide headquarters at Ronaldo Field.
Campbell (Myrtle Bach, S.C.) took the lead after the first round with her throw of 69.48m/227-11, but three throws later she faded to fourth. Newcomer Amanda Bingson (Las Vegas, Nev.) jumped into the lead on her second throw, but Bingson still needed to throw the Olympic “A” standard of 71.50m to have a chance of representing Team USA at the London Olympic Games. Bingson did just that on her fourth attempt with a PR of 71.78m/235-6.
It was on her fifth throw that Campbell recorded the winning mark of 71.80m/235-6 to claim the title of U.S. Olympic Trials hammer champion. Campbell’s mark bettered Bingson’s best mark by only two centimeters, but it was enough to secure her place in the lead.
American record holder Jessica Cosby (Mission Hills, Calif.) started the day in third place, and moved up as high as second place on her third and fourth attempts. However, once Campbell sent the hammer sailing past the 70-meter mark on her fifth attempt, Cosby moved back to third place with her best mark of 70.77m/232-2.
The women’s hammer throw was one for the record books with all of the top-three women bettering the previous meet record of 70.72m. Campbell bettered the mark twice on her last two throws.
Campbell and Cosby were both on the 2008 Olympic Team; however, Bingson had never even heard of the hammer throw during the last Olympiad. The 22-year-old Bingson recently finished competing for UNLV and only took up the hammer throw in the spring of 2009. Bingson has never competed against international competitors outside of the U.S.
On the men’s side, there was far less movement in the rankings as Kibwe Johnson threw his way into first place on his first attempt and was not moved from the top spot through the next six throws. Johnson, who trains in Kamloops, B.C., had his best throw on his fifth attempt in 74.97m/245-11.
Chris Cralle (College Station, Texas) moved into second on his second attempt and maintained that position throughout the series. Cralle’s best mark came on his fifth throw in 74.36m/243-11.
A.G. Kruger (Ashland, Ohio) was steady throughout the series as well as he moved to third place on his second attempt and remained there to the end. Kruger’s best mark came on his first throw of the day when he sent the hammer flying 73.93m/242-6.
Both Johnson and Kruger entered the Trials with Olympic “A” standard, but Cralle has yet to meet the mark. Johnson and Kruger will compete in London for Team USA; however, Cralle’s Olympic “B” standard will not secure him a place on the roster.
Johnson is now a two-time USA Outdoor Champion and will be a first-time Olympian. Johnson advanced to the Olympic Trial finals in 2008 but did not record a mark. Kruger made his third Olympic team after winning the Olympic Trials in 2008 and finishing as the runner-up in 2004.
Today’s Olympic qualifiers join the athletes who qualified in the marathon and 50 km race walk earlier in the year. Competition resumes tomorrow at Hayward Field in Eugene and runs through July 1. Full results and more information can be found at www.usatf.org
Amber Campbell, 1st place
“I knew I needed a big throw going into the 5th round. As soon as I let it go and hit it I knew it would be a good throw.
“The energy was through the roof, everybody was into every throw, and I was excited about it.
“Goals are important to have. I am always striving to reach the next level. I am honing in on my technique, making sure things are tight, and being a well rounded athlete. There are really no limits if you let yourself get out of the way.”
Amanda Bingson, 2nd place
“I treated this as every other day at practice. To hit it here is phenomenal and I went off that.
“The atmosphere is way different than college. I was getting energy from the crowd and feeling support that pushed me there.
“I’m only 22. I’m very young. I’ve only been doing this three years. I have nothing to compare it to…I was focusing on the 2016 Olympic Trials. I had an emphasis on the NCAA’s, not so much the Trials, but I kept pushing it and pushing it and here I am!
“I knew I needed 71.50 to go anywhere. I went in then with a clear mind, relaxed, trusted what I was going through, and when I hit it I had a sigh of relief.”
Jessica Cosby, 3rd place
“I wanted to win, but I had to think about the big picture. I needed to be in the top three, and I placed there. “
“I have never experienced this. It’s good prep for London. This is good building blocks toward the Olympic games.”
Kibwe Johnson, 1st Place
“Coming in I wanted to have a season-best throw and I got that so I am definitely happy.
“It feels good. I have been a starving hammer thrower for a long time now but I made some changes that have gotten me to this point.
“I feel half excitement and half relief. I knew I wanted to come here and win and I am happy with the results.”
Chris Cralle-- 2nd Place
“This is the best experience I have ever had in track and field in six years. I am really thankful to be here at all. I loved the intensity, the intensity is why I compete. This is the best meet I have ever been at.”
AG Kruger-- 3rd Place
“The venue is absolutely amazing. Being able to compete in the hammer in a place like this is awesome.
“Nothing really affected me. I was just a little but tight and I need to learn to relax and just let it happen a little more. I need to focus on the little things that I need to change and then big things will happen.”