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Day 7 Quotes - U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field


U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Track & Field

Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore.

Women’s triple jump, final


Keturah Orji, first place, 14.32m/46-11.75

“I really wanted to be an Olympian, and I’m happy I can call myself that. I first thought it would be possible when I jumped 14.50 last year.”


On her prospects for winning a medal in Rio:

“If I put everything together, yes, it’s possible, but there are a lot of girls jumping 15 meters. I don’t want to put any pressure on myself. I’m just going to go there and give it my all.”


On emotions of making Olympic team:

“I am really excited and happy. I don’t really show my emotions on my face ever, even when I PR and when I broke the American record, I didn’t show much emotion. That’s just how I am, but I am really excited. I am happy to make this team.”


On sending three triple jumpers to Rio:

“When I was getting recruited, a lot of coaches kept telling me, ‘The women’s triple jump is weak, you can help bring it up.’ And now we’re here, and all of us have the standard, so I’m really happy that we’re all going to be able to go to Rio and compete together. I’m just happy to have them with me.”


On using European technique compared to American technique:

“I’m not sure if it’s a different technique because a lot of Americans do different types of things. It’s not really different. But Europeans usually use single arm jumpers, and do a lot of bounding, so I think it’s really benefitted me since I finished high school and switched over to the one arm triple jump. I think it’s really helpful.”


Christina Epps, second place, 14.17m/46-6

On having to get a mark and Olympic Qualifier:

“I knew I could hit it. I had a good prelim and fouled my first few jumps but they were right around the mark. I just needed to get my psyche together and go down there and execute. I relaxed and settled down after getting frustrated after fouling.”


On the moment between jumping and waiting for the mark:

“Oh man, my stomach was dropping. I had butterflies and I was just like, ‘Please just let it be 14.15m.’ I think I can go further. I’m excited.”


On Keturah Orji elevating jumping:

“It’s been great. I was elated that our triple jumpers are hitting 14m and it’s been a couple years since we have been doing that. For her to set the tone and do that elevates us all to be top 10 in the world.”


Andrea Geubelle, third place, 13.95m/45-9.25

“I don’t know how this could be bittersweet. It’s pretty sweet. I had no idea what I was coming into because we had two girls with the standard and a handful that are right there. I’m dealing with injuries. I don’t really know what’s going on with my heel, but I had six jumps to leave it all out there on the track and I walked out knowing that I did.”


“Third place, as a competitor I’d love to get first place, but I’m going to Rio and representing the USA, and I can’t be more excited.”


On rainy conditions:

“It was the Pacific Northwest. This is Eugene, and I train in this every other day. It can be 85 degrees one day and 60 and raining the next, but you have to compete no matter what’s thrown at you.”


On coming back from torn patella:

“I never gave up hope. I think there were definitely some tough points, the lows of the lows when I thought, ‘Am I even in this sport anymore? Can I even contend?’ You have people jumping over 14 meters, and I barely jumped that when I was completely healthy, let alone with a partially torn patella tendon. But as the season went on I found that support system, found a great medical staff, a great medical team, back in Tacoma. They really rehabbed me up and kept encouraging me and said, ‘You have this,’ and even if it wasn’t this year that I’m so young, we’re all so young, we have so many years until we’re technically at our peak as triple jumpers. When I opened up indoors with a 45-5 I was like, ‘I’m a contender,’ if I can come out and jump that at the beginning, if I keep pushing myself its going to be a rocky road, but we made it.”

Women’s 3000m steeplechase, final


Emma Coburn, first place, 9:17.48

“I was just trying to stay relaxed and in a steeplechase especially there’s so much risk and drama with the barriers, so I was just trying to stay relaxed and confident. In the previous two U.S. championships, someone else has taken it out at a modest pace and I’ve been able to sit back for half the race and then try and take it over. So I had a pace in the back of my head so if the pace was slower than about 9:30 pace I was going to take it over, but luckily Ashley Higginson and Stephanie Garcia made it an honest pace early on so I didn’t bother taking the lead until 1K to go. And then when I did I wanted to make as definitive a move as I could. Any athlete will tell you that once you take the lead you better be willing to hold it and fight for it so once I took the lead I was kicking.”


On competition from the Kenyans:

“Our international competition is really good and there are a few Kenyans, but there’s also a Tunisian and a German and a Bahrainian and an Ethiopian. It’s all over the place. I think what’s most impressive is when looking across all countries we seem to have the most depth for women who can run under 9:25. We have a really deep field of women. And we’re also very young. I’m 25 and I’m one of the older girls. We have a really young group of talented women who I think will continue to make world finals and Olympic finals and hopefully contending for medals against our international competition.”


On excelling after coming from a modest background in Crested Butte:

“I don’t know where the confidence in athletic abilities came from. Coming from a town of 1,500 people where no one competes in DI athletics. Everyone’s super fit and athletic but there’s a couple of people making Olympic teams in our hometown. So I don’t really know where that Olympic dream or drive or confidence came from. But I don’t think these women need any lessons from me. Colleen’s has been at a World Championships before and Courtney is the NCAA record holder. I think the three of us and a lot of the girls who didn’t make the team today have just more and more race confidence and more confidence in our ability as steeplechasers on an international level. I think the more and more we make finals and lower American records and have more and more women under 9:25 or 9:20, I think that’s where, as a group, we just kind of lift each other up and kind of feed off each other’s confidence in the event.”


Courtney Frerichs, second place, 9:20.92

“At 800 I was hurting pretty bad. I hadn’t been in a race where I’ve had people in front of me. But then, once we got to 600 and I was starting to catch Leah again I kind of got a second wind and a glimpse of hope. I crossed with 400 to go in fourth and I told myself I was not going to be getting fourth today. I was gonna push that last 400. I had a lot of confidence in my last 400 because my other two hard steeples I’ve been able to close pretty fast. I just kind of channeled that confidence in that last 400.”


On having an outstanding year personally and professionally:

“It’s been absolutely the most amazing year I could have asked for and like I’ve said many times, it makes the stress of the year ago completely worth it. I don’t know if people know, but this was the week a year ago that I found out my coach was going to be leaving. The future kind of looked a little bleak for a while because it looked like we were going to have to part ways. I didn’t know if I was going to be staying in the NCAA or not and I kind of trusted that the journey would work out. I ended up getting the opportunity to follow him and everything. It’s been an amazing ending to this chapter of my career and I’m excited to start the next one with Colleen as a professional.”


Colleen Quigley, third place, 9:21.29

On realizing Courtney was closing:

“The end of the race is really blurry in my brain. I did feel that she was right behind me and I’m not sure if that’s because I heard people saying her name. I think at one point I was looking at the Jumbotron and I could see the red behind me and I felt her on the outside of me and that gave me a lot of comfort and made me feel good that she was there. I could feel that it wasn’t someone who I wouldn’t be rooting for as much. That felt really awesome. As I said after the prelim, this is my dream team and I wanted to be on the team with my new teammate. Obviously Emma was kind of a given there so it was like the last two spots, who could they be –Courtney and I. This is my dream team.”


On needing a PR to compete in the final:

“I knew that I was going to have to do that, or I assumed that I was run at least as fast as I ever have and probably faster. In my head I thought it very well could take under 9:20 to make this team and that was super scary coming into it. I ran like a 9:37 in the prelims and I said it felt good afterwards. That was all right but in my head I was thinking I have to run 20 seconds faster than that. That was pretty intimidating. And not having run another one earlier in the year, it definitely was hard to have confidence in a PR ability today. But honestly I wasn’t looking at the clock. My coach and I said there’s no use in looking at the pace. Just focus on competing against people and the time is there or it’s not there, it really doesn’t matter. That’s what I was focused on – competing – and the PR just showed up. It was kind of a surprise."



Women’s shot put, final


Michelle Carter, first place, 19.59m/64-3.25

“My goal is to peak big in Rio because my goal is to win the gold medal.”


On the moment she realized she was on the Olympic team:

“When it was down to the last two throws and they were able to pass and I knew I was on the team. But for me, of course the main goal is to make the team, but I really wanted to go out with a win. And I was able to pull that out with the last throw.”


On the other two qualifiers:

“These ladies are awesome. I’ve been competing with Felisha for a little while so I know what she’s capable of doing. As well as Raven, she’s young but she has the heart to go out there and compete. I’m excited about what Team USA is going to bring. This is a tough team to make but these ladies were able to bring their A game today so I think we have great representatives for Team USA.”


Raven Saunders, second place, 19.24m/63-1.5

“I felt really comfortable going in, you know my body was feeling great and my technique was on, but it was just a matter of fixing a few minor things. I knew if my technique was on I was gonna be good. I just had to work my way up to get that throw out there.”


“The team we’re sending is very strong. I believe this is one of the strongest shot put teams we’ve ever had. Knowing that I have two other teammates who are 19, 20m shot putters, there’s strength in numbers.”


On becoming an Olympian:

“For me, I was kind of shocked. All year long this was my main goal. Something that I always kept in the back of my mind — every practice, every throw at practice. Having a head coach [University of Mississippi’s Connie Price-Smith] that is a four-time Olympian, you have some pretty big shoes to fill. One down, about three more to go.”


On sustaining form throughout the season:

“We’ve really been really strict with my technique these past few weeks. Today shows that I could still be a little better with it. Basically just drilling in things like that to help me stay in the middle and work it a little bit harder. Really trying to get up because at 5-foot-5 I’m trying to get up as high as somebody who is like 5-9 or 6-0, a lot of room to make up for.”


Felisha Johnson, third place, 19.23m/63-1.25

On how much rain affected the competition:

“You just have to go out there and compete. I’m from Indiana so we have about four seasons in a day so it could be raining, snowing, wind, just chaos, and you still have to go out there and compete.”


Jill Camarena-Williams, fifth place, 18.81m/61-8.5

“The talent level we have in this country is amazing. Look at who didn’t make it — Tia [Brooks]. We knew it was going to take a good throw to make it. This is my last Olympic Trials. Next year’s national championships are in Sacramento, which is my home town, so I might stick around for that.”

Women’s javelin throw, qualifying

Kara Winger, top qualifier, 61.42m/201-6

“I was hoping to throw past 62 meters and use today as practice for the qualifying round at Rio. I’m a little disappointed not to have throw a little bit farther, but it’s fine."

“I went to the Olympics in 2008 as a 22-year-old and tore my ACL at this meet four years ago and went ahead and threw in London because we didn’t have any other qualifiers. I’m really trying to make my third Olympics the charm.”

Maggie Malone, second place, 60.44m/198-3

On goals for the final:

“Obviously, I want to win. I want to compete. I want to win. Kara and Brittany are fantastic. I think those are the other two that have the A standard, but anyone could pop off at any time and we all know that in javelin. Just want to go in and get top three, hopefully qualify for Rio.”

Brittany Borman, fourth place, 58.06m/190-6

“We said that if I threw 58 meters, we’d shut it down until the final. It’s been a challenging year, but I’m ready to roll.”

Women’s 5000m, first round


First heat

Kim Conley, first place, 15:40.04

On rebounding from her DNF in the 10,000m after losing a shoe:

“It wasn’t that hard for me because I made the decision during the (10,000) race to drop out. My heart was set on making the 10k. That’s where I focused my plans. Today my strategy was to start at the back of the pack and move up.”


On making a gesture to the other runners on the closing laps:

“I got clipped and said, ‘Hey, watch it.’ They backed off.”


Second heat

Molly Huddle, first place, 15:26.33

On resetting from the 10k and the 5k prelim:

“Yeah I definitely had to put that behind me and focus on a new event. Prelims can be tricky. We don’t run them a lot in the 5000m, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t go too hard out there. We knew what time we had to run and my coach told me during the last four or five laps to wind it up to get some pace work in between today and Sunday.


On enjoying the 10k:

“I took a day to enjoy it with my family. They were here and that was really nice and then I reset and focused in on today. I felt OK today, not as bad as I have as some 10k, so that’s a good sign.”

Women’s 100m hurdles, first round


First heat

Keni Harrison, first place, 12.57
“I felt a little stiff but I’m happy I made it to the next round. I’m really anxious and just want to try my best to make this team.”

“The race was clean. I didn’t get out as hard as I would have liked to, but I’m just happy to make the next round.”

On what conditions would help a run at the world record:

“If I have a good start, I could get the world record, but I’m not really worried about that. I just want to come across the line in the top three.”


Second heat

Kristi Castlin, first place, 12.68

“It’s really important to take it one round at a time. We race in Diamond League races throughout the year and they are always really tough, so here you really have to be strong mentally and take it one round at a time, not worrying about other girls.”


Third heat

Jasmin Stowers, first place, 12.65

“I was so nervous because it’s the hurdles. Anything can happen, so I was happy to clear each hurdle and it meant everything to move on to the next round...that was the goal for today.”


Fourth heat

Queen Harrison, first place, 12.71 (wind-aided)
“It was really windy today. It was pushing me up on the hurdles.”

“I’m primed, I’m ready to go, I’m fast. I just have to make that adjustment so I don’t clash up on the hurdles tomorrow.”

On the preparation difference with this strong of a field:

“I think it is mental. You have to have that confidence. So many girls are literally neck and neck. One person can win this week and another next. If you aren’t confident in your ability you are going to falter at the line.”


Fifth heat

Brianna Rollins, first place, 12.56

“I just want to continue to relax, focus on myself and just remember this is another track meet, and treat it like that. If you just focus on yourself and believe in yourself, you’ll be just fine.

“I’m not sure (what it will take to make the team), but something pretty fast.”

Men’s 200m, first round


First heat

Noah Lyles, first place, 20.04 (wind-aided)

“I’m pretty excited, and truthfully, it’s exactly what I planned to do. Actually I planned to go a little bit slower, but the faster the better and it’ll only get me more hyped for the next round. I’m definitely satisfied to see that time.”


Second heat

Jarrion Lawson, first place, 20.54

“I felt pretty bad actually. I’m still recovering from the great long jump competition we had on Saturday. That’s what I get from my first time jumping 28 feet. That was a good shake out for my legs right there.”


Third heat

Isiah Young, first place, 20.53

On what he did different today than in the 100m semifinal:
“I pretty much did the same thing today that I did in the semis. In the semis I just had a misstep in my drive. It happened in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“I just have to refocus and do what I do in these 200s and everything will take care of itself. It is always good to get the first one out of the way. I’m supposed to get out of the first round, so if I didn’t get out it would be very disappointing.”


Fourth heat

Michael Norman, first place, 20.06 (wind-aided)

“After the 400m I was really bummed and coming into the 200m I had a whole different mentality. I was just getting ready to race. It turned out really well. I made sure I put myself in a good position coming off the turn and then with 20m left, I looked to my left and right and slowed down to save something for the other rounds.”


Fifth heat

Ameer Webb, first place, 20.27
On running in the rain:

“I love running in the rain. It adds another aspect to the race than just the bend and the straight.”


On why he scratched in the 100m:

“I was in Europe for a while and ran a lot of races. I wanted to come in fresh. I want to solidify a spot on the team and give myself the best shot.”


Justin Gatlin, second place, 20.32

“You got to run in the rain. It’s an element race. I just took my time and made sure I was in the top three coming out of the curve, and I knew Ameer was gonna run. He’s got one gear, so he’s gonna go. When the raindrops get you, as my coach says ‘It’s easier to cool down than it is to warm up,’ so you got to make sure you stay warm.”


Sixth heat

LaShawn Merritt, first place, 20.09 (wind-aided)

“The 200 is still a little foreign to me, but I know that I’m fast and strong, so I figured I can handle it. I got off the curve well, and I knew if I did that ahead or with them, I could just work the different zones on the straightaway. It wasn’t a hard race. It’s only half of my race, so it felt smooth.”

Men’s triple jump, qualifying


Christian Taylor, qualifier, 16.87m/55-4.25

“It’s always good to get the big Q. I’m kind of a veteran now, so I know what automatically qualifying does mentally to the other competitors. They start to think, ‘Oh, he’s in good shape,’ and I’ve had a really good season. Now I go rest. I’ve got 24 hours of relaxation and I get to watch the women’s triple in a bit.”


Will Claye, qualifier, 16.37m/53-8.5

“I’m good to go. I just thank God that I can push to Rio.”


On not qualifying for the Olympic team in the long jump despite finishing third at the Trials (he didn’t have a wind-legal qualifying mark):

“It’s frustrating, but I have to leave that up to the powers that be. The way the schedule is set for the long jump and the triple jump in Rio, I don’t know whether I could have done both events anyway.”

Women’s 400m hurdles, first round


First heat

Landria Buckley, first place, 57.02

“My mindset was to win it or get top two because I wanted that automatic spot in the finals. I was thinking, ‘God is with me and I can do it.’ The conditions are what they are and that is the sport.”


“The person to beat is myself. I feel like I can take anybody but the hardest competitor is myself. If I can execute my race properly, I will be fine.”


Second heat

Sydney McLaughlin, first place, 55.46

“Just getting through the rounds is the goal. You don’t want to go out too fast and expend too much energy. It was very nerve-racking. I’m only 16. I didn’t think I’d be here but I am, and I’m just glad to get the experience. I’ve talked to guys like LaShawn Merritt and Allyson Felix, and they always tell me to focus on what I’ve got to do and continue what I’ve been doing throughout the season.”


Third heat

Dalilah Muhammad, first place, 55.33
“I felt really, really good out there. The rain, I was hoping it would hold off but it didn’t. That is just how it goes.”

“I just wanted to do enough to win. I did that, so I’m really happy with it and am looking forward to tomorrow’s semi-finals.”

“Technically everything was perfect. My hurdling could have been a bit better in some places, but that is an easy fix. I’ll focus on that moving on.”


Fourth heat

Cassandra Tate, first place, 55.93

“I’m happy to get the first one out of the way. It always a little nerve-racking and I was a little rusty. The conditions didn’t bother me much. There is nothing I can do about it. I just need to focus on my race going into the next two rounds.


Fifth heat

Jaide Stepter, first place, 55.64

“I’m just trying to get through one round at a time, and I already got the jitters out with the 400m, so I just wanted to come out and execute the race. Based on this season, literally every single meet has been in either the cold or the rain, so I was even more relaxed for this one than my other races.”

Women’s 1500m, first round


First heat
Amanda Eccleston, first place, 4:13.82
“I was a little bit more nerve-racked than I would have liked for a race that is going to eliminate three people, but it went great. I felt really relaxed and controlled. I’m very happy with it.”

“I’m feeling incredibly fresh and fit and am on that upswing instead of trying to hold and get through this.”


Christina Aragon, third place, 4:14.06

“This is really my first opportunity to run in a race like that. I’m glad I have that experience going into the semis. The rain didn’t bother me. Snow, rain, heat — you have to take the conditions as they are.”


Second heat

Brenda Martinez, first place, 4:23.48
“I felt really good, again, we moved forward that night. I woke up a different person. I had to move forward. I didn’t want to be on the rail if they (the field) were going to make a move, I also wasn’t sure what the pace would be and I was going to set it. My husband and I have had so many adversities in our life that you learn and move on. It’s really hard but my coach prepared me for that.”


Third heat

Jenny Simpson, first place, 4:17.31

“It’s nerve-racking when you see in the first round that there’s a fall, and you just think, ‘The only way I can really screw this up is if I get myself in trouble.’ I was trying to keep the sensors up because in these rounds, if someone comes to pass you, it’s five people, and that’s what I’ve got to keep my radar up for.”

Men’s discus throw, qualifying


Mason Finley, top qualifier, 66.72m/218-11

“It was awesome — a lifetime best on my first throw. I think the rain slowed me down to where I wasn’t throwing on an impulse. It shows I don’t have to kill it. My dad and my coaches have been telling me that forever.”

Men’s 400m hurdles, first round


First heat

Johnny Dutch, first place, 49.56

“I feel content. I just wanted to remained relaxed, execute as clean as I could. It was all about distribution of energy today.”


“Today was all about getting through as comfortable as possible. Tomorrow I’ll probably have to turn it up a lot more. I’ll finish stronger on the home stretch. My coach has prepared me to attack each round as hard as I can and still have enough energy for the final.”


Second heat

Bershawn Jackson, first place, 49.91

“Last Olympic Trials, 2012, I took fourth, so I came in with mixed emotions. I lost my father in October so it was hard. He was with me in 2012 and he was with me last year when I made it to Beijing. Once the race started, I just wanted to execute, but I didn’t really have a good season this year, but overall I put in really good training prior to this.”


Third heat

Eric Futch, first place, 50.07

“I tried to win it. I’m mentally prepared. I’ve practiced too hard to go out there out there like a punk.”


Fourth heat

Khallifah Rosser, first place, 49.89

“I’m really amped. This gives me an opportunity to display my talents on the big stage against some of the best in the world. I’m really excited. I’m glad I was able to come out today and finish with a strong race.”

Men’s 1500m, first round


First heat

Craig Engels, first place, 3:41.92

“I thought four races in seven days would be really tough, but my coach prepared me well enough in the season, and we’re doing all right so far. Earlier this week I think I was the only happy fourth-place finisher, and hopefully I can do the same and just make the final in the 1500m.”


Second heat

Ben Blankenship, first place, 3:49.61

“The crashes caught my attention, so I wanted to stay outside and make it easy as possible. The race felt fine.”


Third heat

Eric Avila, first place, 3:42.27

“It felt like we were jogging. I kept looking at the clock thinking it was going to be a slow time. At the bell I wanted to make sure we were plenty under and get top six. My coach always says if you have an opportunity to practice racing, that breeds confidence.”

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