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Day 10 Quotes - U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field

7/10/2016
 

U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Track & Field

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore.

 

Women’s pole vault, final


Jenn Suhr, first place, 4.80m/15-9

On going to Rio with such young teammates:

“It’s exciting to have new vaulters come up. They bring new life and energy and you really see it for what it is, what the event is. Just watching Lexi go through the media and just the emotion that she has and what she’s done; and watching Sandi and the energy and the happiness it really brings a little bit more life into the vault, so I’m excited to be there with them. We’re sending a great team, especially with their camaraderie. I’m excited for it.”

 

On approach going into Rio:

“This is only stage two of a four-part stage. The next thing that I have to look at is qualifying to go to the finals for Rio, that’s part three. So before I can even think about the fourth part, I have to get through three. I’m pretty good at just taking one step at a time and not getting too far ahead of myself.”

 

On coming back from injury:

“It was something that I’ve never done before. I took 14 steps to qualify and then I moved my mark back and 16 in the middle of the meet. That was something new for me. We talked about it and I thought, ‘I don’t know, I’ve never seen someone do that. Can they do that?’ I just decided now’s the time. I just wanted to make sure that with the weather and everything going on that I took a shorter run just to make the team and then I backed up. Right now I feel good. The qualifier took it out of me a lot; just the up-downs, the delays, the moving back and forth, staying warm. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can get back to full strength.”

 

Sandi Morris, second place, 4.75m/15-7

“I am very, very proud of Lexi. A few days ago we were talking about it and I said, ‘Do you realize how good of a shot you have of making this team.’ And she said, ‘No, not really.’ I guess she probably believes me now that she had a really good shot of making this team because she knows how to jump and she knows how to handle weather and she’s a tough competitor. So for both of us to make this team together representing Arkansas and the USA together under Coach Compton, I’m just so happy that we could accomplish all this and make our coach proud because he puts everything into us.”

 

Alexis Weeks, third place, 4.70m/15-5

 

“Coming in, I just wanted to come and get some experience and just have fun. I’m dreaming right now. Just to have Sandi, she’s just been such an inspiration to me. It’s just been her and I training together over the past few weeks since NCAAs and having her there pushing me. She did tell me the other day that you know that you have a shot and I didn’t believe it. She’s been so encouraging and supportive of me throughout this whole thing. It’s just been incredible and to get to do it with her is just so amazing.”


Men’s high jump, final


Erik Kynard, first place, 2.29m/7-6

“I don’t feel as though I jumped as high as I wanted to. I keep my averages, and 2.29 will bring it down. I’ll need to go higher in the other ones.”


Kyle Landon, second place, 2.26m/7-5

“The competition went great. I jumped higher than I ever had before. I gave it my all.”


On finishing second but not qualifying for the U.S. team because he didn’t have the Olympic standard (2.29m/7-6):

“It’s tough, not to be going to Rio. But I’m young and I’ve got plenty of time left.”


Bradley Adkins, third place, 2.21m/7-3

“I feel great. I wanted to jump a little better, but I got to come out here and compete, and to finish third place I’m just so thankful.”


“I need to clean up a couple things, you know, I was kind of diving into the bar, so I’m gonna go back and hammer that technique so I can do something in Rio for the US.”


Women’s 400m hurdles, final


Dalilah Muhammad, first place, 52.88

On the problems of 2014 and 2015:

“‘14 and ‘15 were two very difficult years for me, just having personal problems in ‘14 to being injured in 15. I think my belief in myself kept me going, and knowing I could be better than I was in 2013. I just wanted to keep that going, and this year when it wasn’t going as planned I made a coaching change, and I’m grateful that I did. It was a hard decision to make, but it’s paid off. I’m so thankful for that.”

 

On what she was doing at 16 (age of bronze medalist Sydney McLaughlin):

“I was a junior in high school. I just won world youth that year, but I ran 57 seconds, not 54.”


Ashley Spencer, second place, 54.02

On senior year injury at the University of Texas:

“In 2014, I lost my nana to cancer. I was really struggling with trying to figure that out, and then to add fuel to the fire I got an injury, two tears to my quad. My first year at Texas, I had to deal with the death of my nana, who was my best friend, and having to deal with an injury on the complete south side of the country, away from my mom and my dad and my sister. It was really tough for me, and once I got back to being healthy enough to run there was a lot of fear.”


“This year was the first time I said, ‘You know what? If it’s going to tear again it’s just going to do it.’ I love this sport so much I’m not going to fall by the wayside and let it take over me. I put fear aside, and I’m blessed to have the support system I have, especially my coaching staff at Texas and my family at home. Having them keep believing me and uplifting me has put me where I am right now. I’m going to the Olympic Games in Rio; I have full confidence that moving forward in my career I can be successful.”

 

On U.S. having the chance to sweep:

“The women sitting next to me, and myself, we all have a chance to represent this country well, and we’re going to make this podium and represent this country the best we can. The USA, we’re going to pull it through.”


Sydney McLaughlin, third place, 54.15 (world junior record)

“I can’t believe this is happening right now. I just get this out of the way. It’s been a very long year, and the Trials is stressful. My mind was on finishing the race and eating a cheeseburger.”


On handling pressure of success at 16:

“Just hearing the word Olympics was a dream in the back of my mind. I was like, ‘Oh yeah I’m going to the Trials,’ but it’s not going to happen. It was never really on my radar, until ran 54. My season started off really rough with some injuries and some personal issues. It wasn’t looking good. But every Olympic athlete has two or three major struggles their Olympic year, and I definitely faced mine.”

 

“This has to be the icing on the cake. Regardless of what happens in Rio, I made it here and I’m just so thankful for all of that.”

 

On incentive to succeed:

“It was AAU track. I was six years old, and my dad said that if I won I would get a chocolate bar with almonds. So I won the race and I got a chocolate bar, and ever since I kept running so I could get chocolate bars.”

 

Reflect on pressure of Trials:

“I think the first day was definitely the hardest — coming up here, just the Trials, coming up here for the first time and running on this track, in this type of competition. As the rounds went on it definitely got easier to manage the nerves and get used to the field, but it’s a lot of mental preparation, and just keeping the negative thoughts out and trusting in the ability of what you’ve done so far. My coach had a lot to do with that. I had a mental breakdown my first day, and without them I wouldn’t have stepped on the line.”

 

On self doubt and the breakdown:

“It was me doubting everything I’d done so far this season, not understanding that I’ve worked to get where I am and that I deserved to be here. And just thinking, ‘I’m 16 and these girls are all professionals.’ I definitely had a moment where I didn’t think I could do it, and they told me ‘You’re getting on the line and running this race’ that put me where I am today.”


Kori Carter, fourth place, 54.47

“The race started off really well, I was through the first five hurdles really smooth and had some issues around the curve. Coming into the home stretch I felt like I was in a good position but over the last 40m I felt my quads go out.”


On Sydney McLaughlin:

“She is a beast. She’s the truth. I was in every single heat with her and she carries herself like a pro and I know she will represent the USA amazingly.


Heptathlon, final


Barbara Nwaba, first place, 6494 points

“It set in when I took my victory lap and I ran to my mom, who I didn’t know was here, and that’s when all the waterworks came down. I felt so blessed for her to be out here because she didn’t want me to be distracted or worry about where she was, so when I saw her I couldn’t believe it. I was just so happy to share that moment with her.”


“After day one, seeing how high everyone’s marks were, I thought ‘oh this isn’t going to be as easy as I thought.’ To make top three I thought it was going to take 6300 and it took 6400, so it took me having to focus and execute everything the best I can.”


How this competition helped her learn more about herself to be ready for Rio…

“Coming up a lot in the final attempts, being able to execute through high jump and not wasting time, missing bars I should have been making, being able to just go through my progression, giving myself enough time to go through these things. All this is just really good practice. I definitely think I’m going to use all of this for when I go to Rio, especially with those big time gaps. Just being able to stay focused and make sure I execute everything at the right time.”

 

“It’s definitely going to be an amazing competition at the games. But these are girls that I’ve competed with so I’ve gotten to know these girls and know what their talents are. For me it’s going to be about just being able to just focus on myself because I’ve definitely focused on myself throughout this whole competition and everything worked out. So if I continue to that and not get distracted by how well other people are doing or how far ahead they are in points, I should be okay. Just keep focusing on myself and my abilities and just compete my hardest and I think everything will turn out fine.”

 

On how she handled going from day one to day two…

“My coach always talks about parking my events. The first day it was awesome, everything went really well, especially the high jump. I was definitely on a high after all those things went my way. But after that night, it was just like park it and move on. I still had to execute and do well in the next three events. I knew it wasn’t over. It can be anyone’s game. I just had in my mind being able to execute and just follow the plan that I’ve been working on and really think about it and just do it. I was excited to do that after that long jump and that javelin throw and then in the 800 it was just go.”


Heather Miller-Koch, second place, 6423 points

“This year the mentality was just don’t get fourth place. Last year at the championships, I came in fourth place by 18 points, missed going to World Championships. It’s just been a steady climb. I came out of Division II college. My PR in college was only 5230 points. This year it has just been do not get fourth place.”


“First time I competed against [Barbara Nwaba] was the last Olympic Trials, so we’re known each other since then. It’s been great to get to know Kendell. I had never competed against against her, just know she’s a high school phenom, the best college. She’s the next best thing.”


“The depth of the entire field, the scores were huge — the best it’s ever been in a national championship and it would have been even bigger had we had better conditions. It was a little rainy today. We were running into the wind yesterday. Those don’t produce the best heptathlon scores and we still did it. To get to this meet, you had to take 6,000 points essentially to get into this meet almost. That’s  a huge climb from four years ago. It’s just going to keep going up.”


“I can’t really describe the feeling right now. The whole goal was for this meet. I had done other heptathlons throughout the year but it was all leading up to this competition. I just put it all out there, training specifically for this meet to make the team because I knew it was going to be so competitive. It was just great that we were able to put up such big scores considering head winds yesterday and rain today. It’s pretty awesome.”

 

“I know that Barbara is a very strong 800 runner, and so is Sharon, who was only a second and a half behind me – she had to beat me by a second and a half – so I knew I had to run. Our plan was for Barb to lead the race and I didn’t want to break stride and I kind of went out a little hot around the corners. I just went with it. I don’t usually like leading. I usually like coming from behind but I knew I just had to trust my training. Coming through the 600 I saw that we were a little slower than what I had been training at so I was just about to finish strong.”


Kendell Williams, third place, 6402 points

On waiting for results after 800m:

“I was waiting. I knew I had to stay on Sharon pretty good because I could only let her beat me by five or six seconds. She started to pull away from me at the two, so I was just fighting and fighting, and I actually fell across the line, which was a first for me. I didn’t know if I got it or was going to miss it, but when I saw my name in third place I just fell to the ground I was so happy.”


“Both of these ladies are so sweet. I’m glad we’re going to Rio together because they were pumping me up before the 800, and all through the competition just cheering me on, so I’m glad we’re teammates now.”


“It’s incredible to able to take my talents internationally, to make my first Olympic team, which is still unbelievable. The feeling hasn’t hit me yet. I knew that after leaving here at NCAAs with a PR, I knew that I was pretty set up for a good score to come back and score big at the trials. I’m glad I was able to PR. The 64 is a huge PR and I was glad I was able to do it here and make this team.”


Women’s 5000m, final


Molly Huddle, first place, 15:05.01

“I just knew I had to make it hurt for the last 1000m, and as long as I could run 70s and under for the last K, that would hurt to take the kick out of a lot of those girls.”


On dropping the 5000m:

“I’m like ninety-nine percent sure. I’ll think about it one more day, but I’m almost positive I won’t be running it.”


On how feeling going to Rio, and goals:

“It’s definitely an honor to win the 5 and 10 here. I wasn’t sure how that was going to go. If you told me I was going to be doing that back in 2008, I never would’ve believed you. That’s pretty crazy to look back on that. Now I’m just looking ahead to Rio, and likely going to focus on the 10. Hopefully I’ll be in PR shape. I don’t know what the time will be, but I’ll need that effort, that 30-30 type effort to be in the mix. That’s what we’re going for, train hard and try and avoid injuries, and just get there feeling as good as I can.”

 

On winning 10k and 5k:

“I take it one event at a time, and the 10k was my focus. I felt like the pressure was off and I could enjoy the 5k, and it’s my favorite event as well, so I tried to take the pressure off myself but I knew a win was possible, but only if I focused. I still couldn’t relax too much. I wasn’t sure how my body would hold up over 50 laps here, and it held up well. I’m happy to have pulled off the double, especially with such great closers in the field.”


Shelby Houlihan, second place, 15:06.14

“Going into the race I said ‘let’s go, I’m going to stick on Emily like I do everyday’, I moved into second on the last lap and I wasn’t going to give that up. It didn’t matter, if I had to run a 29 second last 200m I would have. I’m really glad I was able to stick it out and get second. This is really cool.”


“I started running when I was five years old and ever since I’ve wanted to be an Olympian and when I crossed that line and it happened I was overcome with emotion.


On moving up to 5k:

“Jerry (Schumacher) thought the 5k would be more of my event, and I just trusted him. He knows what he’s talking about. He knows the process, and I had been training for it all year and it’s been amazing so far.”

 

On the last lap:

“I knew if I was there going into the last lap that I would have enough left to finish and finish strong. So I didn’t look back and just closed as hard as I could.”



Kim Conley, third place, 15:10.62

“Even though I knew Molly (Huddle) was probably going to drop the 5,000 for Rio, I wanted to get in the top three. My heart was set this year on the 10k, but I felt like I turned the page really well.” (Conley dropped out of the 10,000 final with four laps remaining after having to put her shoe back on early in the race.)


Comparing today’s race to her photo-finish third in 2012:

“It was nothing like ‘12, but I think I leaned a little at the line, just to be sure.”


Coming back after 10k DNF:

“Obviously the 10,000 was disappointing, having my shoe come off. I made a decision on the track that the gap was too big to close, and the right call was to save myself for the 5,000. Once I stepped off the rack I turned the page right away and got really excited about running the 5,000, here and the prospect of running the 5,000 in Rio, and I’ve been totally forward focused since July 2nd. I’m very relieved and excited to have made the team, and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.”

 

On race strategy:

“Part of the strategy was to stay out of trouble, and I was trusting that Molly would keep the race really honest since she’s such a strong runner. And I knew there were several athletes in the field, like Shelby, that come from a 1,500 background, so I didn’t want it to be a 400-meter race. I was trying to stay up with the leaders, and I was hoping it would get strung out even a little more than it actually did, and then trusting I could run a good last 1,000 meters. And on the last lap, even knowing that Molly probably wasn’t going to keep the 5,000 I really wanted to be in the top three and be on the victory lap, so I was really pressing for that third place finish.“


Men’s 400m hurdles, final


Kerron Clement, first place, 48.50

“One little misstep can mean disaster, and I kept my composure even though I was in second after the tenth hurdle, but I knew my speed would take me to the finish.”


“I’m really excited to be going to Rio with Michael and Byron, and hopefully we can bring some hardware back to the United States.”


“A couple years ago I didn’t race much and took a year off from the 400 hurdles because I felt like I was mentally depleted, so I took a break from the 400 hurdles and just focused on the 400 run, and came back in 2014 to race again.”


Byron Robinson, second place, 48.79

On being an Olympian:

“To be honest I don’t even have words, I cannot describe it. This is amazing and a lifelong dream at 21. It hasn’t sunk in. I was thinking, no matter what I have to get to the finish line; all the training that went into it, my background, where I’m from, all the people who sent me text messages, I kept that in my mind the whole race. Over the last two hurdles I thought, I’m getting over this and I’m going to make this team, even if I have to die for it.


On support back home:

They mean everything. No matter what I do in life if the people back home aren’t proud of me I know that I didn’t really live up to expectations. Knowing that they are behind me, I know I can achieve anything.


Michael Tinsley, third place, 48.82

On Dallas tragedy and racial issues:

“I definitely want to bring more light to it. Anytime you have a chance to have a platform with a large audience, you want to speak on the things going on in the world and not be selfish by thinking about myself and what I’m going through because there are a lot of young people and other people around the world going through different things. The “Black Lives Matter” movement is something I’m really interested in and I want to shed light on that.”


“There are good police out there, and there are some bad ones, just like in every job. But my condolences really go out to the officers that were slain in Dallas because two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because something bad happens to you doesn’t mean you can do something bad to someone else. I really want people to come together. There’s a much bigger picture than just the things going on now and things can get better.”


Women’s 1500m, final


Jenny Simpson, first place, 4:04.74

“That last lap was so terrifying and fun at the same time. I felt really strong and powerful and wanted to measure my energy so that I had a strong kick at the end. I felt like I had it, I really felt great. I felt like this was a very powerful run for me, not about the time, but about my confidence level. I’m as confident as I ever have been in my professional career.”


Brenda Martinez, third place, 4:06.16

On making the team after being tripped up in the 800 final and finishing seventh:

“I just kept telling myself not to give up. I got so many emails, Instagram and Facebook messages, it made me feel so much support.”


Women’s 200m, final


Tori Bowie, first place, 22.25

“I’m satisfied and content with where I am at right now, but this is just a stepping stone to Rio. I know my weaknesses and I know my strong points. I had to execute my race and hold on with what I have.”

 

“I try not to think about 2012, I get teary eyed. I was sitting at home watching on television. Now I’m here and my dreams have finally become a reality.”

 

“It’s like a dream come true, coming to the Olympic trails and leaving being the champion. I couldn’t ask for more.”

 

Did place in the 100 motivate her for the 200…

“Of course. I come here just like everyone else, wanting to leave with the title. And that didn’t happen. It just motivated me a little bit more to run the 200 meters.”


Deajah Stevens, second place, 22.30

“It hasn’t hit me yet. I’m super excited, I’m speechless. I wasn’t expecting this, of course I wanted it but I wasn’t sure. I just went for it.


Jenna Prandini, third place, 22.53

“The whole field was full of amazing girls, so I was honored to get to race with all of them, and I’m just so excited to go to Rio.”


On photo finish:

“I don’t really know what happened, but it got the job done. It worked. I have some little scrapes but I can’t feel it. It doesn’t matter right now.”


“I don’t think it’s hit me quite yet, but every second that goes by I feel it a little bit more.


Allyson Felix, fourth place, 22.54

“Honestly, I’m disappointed. All year I planned for this race, and for it to end here, it’s disappointing. But when I look back and see everything that happened, I still think it’s quite amazing that I was able to make this team. I feel like everything was against me.”


“I don’t think I need races at this point. I think I need some work, some rest and recovery, and to take the time that we have just to get back and try to perfect the 400m.”


Men’s 1500m, final


Matthew Centrowitz, first place, 3:34.09

“I finished second here in 2012 and I was joking with my dad last night, he was a two-time Olympian and I am now, he can’t hold that over me. A cool stat is that his first team he made he got second and the second team he won (at the trials); just another step “like father like son”.


“I knew that the guys with the standard would be the hardest guys so I had finished fourth today I wasn’t going to go because those guys with the standard would have beat me. When I finished and saw how fast it was I was pretty stoked because I knew what the trials record was, its neat now that for the rest of the Trials everyone will see me until it’s taken down.”


Robby Andrews, second place, 3:34.88

“I wasn’t sure what people were going to do. There was a lot of talk beforehand about guys wanting a fast race so they could get the Olympic standard (3:36.20), so I was determined to stay patient if the race started fast. With 300 to go, I saw Matt (Centrowitz), Ben (Blankenship) and Leo (Manzano) ahead of me. ‘Just get one of them!’ I told myself. I really wanted to catch Matthew on the homestretch but I didn’t have as much left as I thought I’d have.”


On making the Olympic team after finishing fifth at the 2012 Trials:

“It’s been a really long journey. I can’t begin to thank all of the people who have supported me. They all helped me get here.”


Ben Blankenship, third place, 3:36.18

“It’s really good (to make the Olympic team). For everybody here at TrackTown, they did such a damn good job to put on such a good meet. It’s one of the best venues you can run at in the world.”


On the question if today was the best race of his life:

“Yes. Yeah. I haven’t had the time to process it all, but yeah.”


On the bumping in the race:

“I really think it was the first 200 meters or 300 meters -- in the first lap. (Leo Manzano) tried to come out and I was right there. It was either going to tangle up or one of us has to make a move. It was easier for him to go forward. If anything it helps us.”


“Every time anyone goes out and race, their goal is to make it to a U.S. championship. It was really a solid three years of training under Mark Rowland to get me here.”







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