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Day 3 Quotes - U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field


U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Track & Field

Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore.


Athlete Quotes


Women’s high jump, final


Chaunté Lowe, first place, 2.01m/6-7

“Today I just wanted to do an Olympic prelim, just to see what it felt like. It felt so easy, which I kind of expected, so I think I’ll be ready in seven weeks. I’m going to keep training, fine-tuning things, and we may be able to see a sweep on the podium.”


“I’ve taken a completely different approach this year, and what [Vashti Cunningham] jumped was completely independent from what my goals were. Honestly I didn’t care what she jumped or anybody else. I wanted to come out here and do my personal best. The best I’ve jumped this year was 1.96 and to jump 2.01, I feel like I still could’ve gone higher.”


On her daughter:

“I used to train down in Atlanta, but we had to move because my daughter was having different issues. They suspected she had Autism or Asperger's, so we had to move down to Florida to get her help, and that’s what you guys were seeing last year. It wasn’t that I was no longer able; it was that I put my children first. She got the help that she needed and I’m proud to announce that she got kicked out of the special needs programs, so next year she’s starting Kindergarten.”


Vashti Cunningham, second place, 1.97m/6-5.5

“I’m very appreciative. To be able to go to the Olympics, I’m more happy than disappointed about finishing second. I always want to win, but this is something that will hit me on the head and make me work harder. I’ve got more motivation for Rio.”


“My mindset stayed the same throughout. I was more nervous on Friday during qualifying.”


On receiving a hug from her father, former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham:

“He hugged me over and over. He’s going to have me working even harder before the Olympics. I don’t know of any coach I’d leave him for.”


Randall Cunningham on his daughter’s performance:

“God blessed that girl, that little tall girl. She stayed so calm out there. She listens, and she wants it just as much as Allyson Felix.”


Inika McPherson, third place, 1.93m/6-4

On making her first Olympic team:

“This is what Coach and I came to do. I can say this is not a complete surprise. It’s been wonderful, exhilarating. I could believe it but I needed the stamp of approval on it. It kind of made me antsy to jump again but I couldn’t really focus on jumping because I made the team.”


On her suspension and lessons learned:

“It gave me a lot of time to grow and this is nothing that I am doing alone. It had to be a team effort. I can say I wasn’t surrounding myself with the right group of people. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I wasn’t the person I am today. It was a lot of growing that happened throughout those years.”


Women’s 400m, final


Allyson Felix, first place, 49.68

On ankle injury and running rounds:

“It took a lot, a lot of help from other people, amazing physical therapists, chiropractors, a lot of people helping me get back out there each day and just trusting Bob Kersee.”


On saying “thank you” at the finish:

“I think I was just like, ‘Thank you, Lord.’ It’s been a tough year and it was a relief. I have put in so much work and to see it all come together when two month ago I was barely walking. To be at this moment is pretty unbelievable.”


Felix’s coach, Bob Kersee, on Felix’s performance after an injury-plagued spring:

“She ran it the way we wanted to her run it. I thought she’d run 49.7. The conditioning is not quite there, but she’s the fastest one in the field.”


“I’ve always believed the 400 is her best race. This is my 11th Olympic Trials, and she’s one of the best of all time. She really wants to represent the U.S. in the Olympics. She believes in the red, white and blue.”


Phyllis Francis, second place, 49.94

On the rounds:

“In the prelim I wanted to make sure I set myself up in a good lane for the semi-final and I knew if I ran my own race in the final everything would be fine. I can’t complain and Coach was happy.”


On the final:

“Coach told me to get out and that’s exactly what I did. He also told me to make sure I set myself up for a good last 100 and just go for it.”


Natasha Hastings, third place, 50.17

“I want to enjoy the moment. I literally laid everything on the line. I’m not ready to process tomorrow yet.”


Men’s 400m, final


LaShawn Merritt, first place, 43.97

“I knew if I came off good, I was going to finish up good. I worked the last 50 a little bit more than I did in the previous rounds. I still feel like I had a little bit left so I'm pleased about it.”


“People always say they look at my film to tell their athletes, 'This is how you're supposed to run the last part of the race.' They haven't been looking at it lately so I had to give them something to look at.”


On what he learned in Beijing last year

“I learned in Beijing that to run 43 in the 400 is not as difficult as people make it seem. There were people who ran 43 in the rounds. The time spoke for itself. It’s just a matter of knowing how to run it and wanting to know it.”


Gil Roberts, second place, 44.73

“The goal was to make it to Rio, and I did whatever I could to get it. I got second so I’m pleased with it. I’ve still got things to work on, so that’s always a positive knowing that you didn’t do everything perfect when you lost. I’ve got things to fix and hopefully I’m better at Rio.”


On making first Olympic team:

“Man, I’m ecstatic. Words can’t describe how I really feel right now, but I put everything into this season to make it to the Olympics. That’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid, and I’m on cloud nine right now. I just can’t wait to talk to my family.”


“I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, I expect to be there every time I race. When I’m healthy I know I’m one of the best in the world, and I’ve been healthy this season, so I knew coming into the Trials that I should be on this team.”


David Verburg, third place, 44.82

On making the Olympic team

“It actually hasn’t sunk in yet. I have tried to let it sink it. I’ve wanted to be an Olympian since I started running track. I missed it in ’12. I cried. I’ve never been so happy to finish third in my life. That was the whole goal. Since September I’ve been thinking about it. In the back of my mind, the closer it got to July, the more I was like, ‘Rio. I’ve got to make the team.’”


“For me to come out here from a small school and a small stature and still make one of the hardest teams in the world to make and become an Olympian, after that no one can take that away from me. How many people can say that they are an Olympian for USA Track and Field?”


Men’s long jump, final


Jeffery Henderson, first place, 8.59m/28-2.25 wind-aided

“I knew people were out there jumping far. That’s the case in the U.S. and particularly at the Olympic Trials. If I’m confident in myself, it doesn’t matter what other people are doing.”


On dedicating his win to his mother, who has Alzheimer’s:

“She’s had it since I got out of high school. I don’t know whether she’ll be aware of what I’ve done, but I’ll be glad to go home and let her know much I love her.”


Jarrion Lawson, second place, 8.58m/28-1.75

“I put it all out there on the first jump and hit the board. I’m really happy to get the 28-foot barrier with a legal wind.”


Women’s 100m, final


English Gardner, first place, 10.74

“I remember in 2012, I sat in the car, and I cried. I cried my eyes out and came to the realization that I never wanted to feel that feeling again, and so when I crossed the line and saw the results, I didn’t really care if I came in first, second or third, I was just excited that I made the team. With the help of these ladies, we were able to give the show that we promised from the beginning.”


“At the start, we were all pretty much even. Usually I’m used to coming out the blocks in front and getting caught, but this time I had to be patient. These two ladies are the two most fierce ladies we have in the United States because they don’t back down. They’re not scared of anybody, and that’s why I love competing with them because they always give the best race they possibly can. I knew it was gonna be a wire-to-wire race, so if I just kept my composure, we would just see what I came out with in the end.”


On the strength of the 4x100 relay team

“It’s going to be nasty, I promise you that.”


Tianna Bartoletta, second place, 10.776

“The schedule for Rio is going to be completely easy compared to this weekend. The 100m is going to be first and there’s a good three, four, maybe even five days between the 100m and the long jump, so I’m happy this difficult Trial is past me. It’s been a struggle finding my stride and rhythm on the runway with a new coach. It hasn’t been perfect but in the last two weeks, my husband and I changed my training. I would warm up, take six jumps, and then go over to the hundred and sprint, so I’ve been doing that for the last two weeks to be physically and mentally prepared for this weekend.”


“One of the mantras we’ve been drilling into me is that I have to conquer myself. Conquering myself is the only victory that truly matters, and when I walk away from the long jump or walk away from the 100m, I have to be proud of myself and know that I gave 100 percent. On the other hand, it was so finely tuned and planned out the way I was going to handle this meet, that it was almost like a checklist. Done, done, done, done, so as a professional, I did what I needed to do.”


Tori Bowie, third place, 10.779

“I’m completely thankful I’m on the Olympic team. I’ve been waiting four years for this moment. Since 2012, I’ve been saying that whatever happened today, I’m going to be thankful. I have another race to attend to this week, running the 200, and I’m extremely excited about it.”


“I felt like in the final I didn’t really run my race. It was more of me seeing these ladies out in front of me. I was just popping up instead of trying to execute, so I know what I did wrong today, and that’s one of the reasons I’m content. We get another try at Rio.”


Men’s 100m, final


Justin Gatlin, first place, 9.80

“My parents bought their ticket, my family had their tickets, so it put the pressure on me to make sure I punch my ticket.”


“I wasn’t too worried about the time. Last year I was all about time and running fast and consistent, but this year I was trying to rise to the occasion, rise to the moment, and that’s what I did today. I got to continue that, get stronger, get faster and represent for America.”


“There’s a new era of sprinters that’s coming along, and they got a lot of heart, got a lot of guts, got a lot of grit, and when it’s time for me to leave, rest assured that I’ll be able to pass the torch onto Trayvon and Bracy and they’ll handle business.”


Trayvon Bromell, second place, 9.84

“I came here today just wanting to represent possibility to all the kids that growing up people tell them they can't do this or can't do that. I just want to be that symbol for people. A lot of people growing up, they didn't believe in me. I said in the third grade I wanted to be an Olympian, and people laughed at me. Now I'm here."


Marvin Bracy, third place, 9.98

On the emotions:

“After the semi-final I was a bit tired and it started to get to my head. I said, ‘Man, give it what you got for this last hurrah and leave it out on the line.' When I crossed the line I told myself to not be disappointed because I gave it my best and my best made this team. I can’t thank God enough for that.”


“By the time I get back to the hotel, I’ll probably break down in tears. Words can’t explain what this means to me.”


Tyson Gay, fifth place, 10.03

“I’m holding back the tears. I’ve been training hard, but it just didn’t work out today.”




Ashton Eaton, first place, 8750 points

“Physically I’m a bit older, but when you get older you have more experience, and that’s why it’s good to have older coaches because they’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen a lot and been in a lot of situations, so now when I’m in a situation in the decathlon, I’ll know how to handle it because I’ve been in a lot of them.”


On his injuries:

“I’d like to point out that most decathletes are dealing with something. It’s just the nature of the event, so it’s not surprising. Most of these guys are dealing with injuries, but they don’t say anything about it and still go out there and do great. My training was what took the biggest hit, you just have to alter it, but other than that I feel good.”


On going to Olympics with his wife:

“We probably won’t understand until we’re older because we’ll have that ability to zoom out on the experience, but she’s a massive supporter of mine, and I’m a massive supporter of her, and I think it makes the pursuit quite a bit easier because she understands what it takes. In our marriage, the success of our athletic dreams comes before everything. ‘Hey do you want to watch a movie?’ ‘No, I have a hard workout tomorrow.’ Luckily, I understand her and she understands me.”


Jeremy Taiwo, second place, 8425 points

“In 2010, when I was knocked out on the track in the hurdle race, there was this crazy warp of all these memories. When I crossed the finish line today, it was similar to that. I remembered all the times that this is the hardest journey of your life, that it’s a defining moment of your life at 26, all the times you wanted to give up, all the times you wanted to not go to practice, you wanted to go work at Whole Foods or something. It hurts to be a decathlete all year round. I’m like, ‘What am I doing?’ We don’t even get paid for this, so with all that in my mind I was so grateful.”


On Ziemek qualifying after competing in the NCAAs last month:

“I’d just like to say that doing the decathlon after NCAAs this soon, that hurts. This guy has some serious guts. This is the second time he did it, so I’m proud of him. It’s unreal.”


On what he learned in Beijing:

“I want to ease into a training rhythm. I was really excited, but when you travel overseas, especially with that time zone difference, I definitely want to ease myself into it. My coach and I have a really good relationship laying out what we can handle and what we want to do each week, and hopefully I can blend into this one with no hiccups.”


On sponsorship restrictions of Rule 40:

“We saw people in the Los Angeles Olympics a generation ago, and they were able to able to wear Ford, Tyson, whatever was on them, and that was really cool. People can do that in Formula One racing and NASCAR, and it shows that people want to support. Obviously it’s good publicity for the companies, but as the market keeps shifting away from multi-eventers, it’s gonna be really tough for this thing to keep holding on."


Zach Ziemek, third place, 8413 points

“Before today, Kesley [Card] (Wisconsin teammate who made Olympic team competing in women’s discus), told me, ‘I qualified. Now it’s your turn.’ To be able to represent Wisconsin as the young kids, we want to take our program to the next level, and it’s a huge honor to get this going.”


“I was disappointed at the NCAAs, and I had the goal to make the team here. I went home after nationals and was able to clean up some stuff, and I think that really showed out here.”


On what he learned in Beijing:

“I would say that moving on from event to event, not to get too upset if something goes wrong and not to get too excited if something goes well, that’s the biggest thing I learned.”


Amanda Brooks
Marketing and Communications Manager
USA Track & Field

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