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Day 8 Quotes - U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field


U.S. Olympic Team Trials — Track & Field

Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore.

Athlete Quotes

Women’s 100m hurdles, final

Brianna Rollins, first place, 12.34

“When I got to the finish line and realized I was the first one to cross, I was so overwhelmed and so excited, and I was finally able to relax and start to prepare myself for the road to Rio.”

On the hurdle team heading to the Olympics:

“We’re the best in the country and the best in the world. I’m so blessed and work hard at what I do, and I’m just going to continue to believe in myself and what I have. I look forward to competing with these ladies, and hopefully all three of us end up on the medal stand.”

On challenging to recapture the American record:

“Maybe I can, but right now I’m just focusing on getting a medal.”

Kristi Castlin, second place, 12.50
“I’ve really been working hard. This is just a stepping for us. Our end goal is to come back with some of those medals in Rio. We really have to just use this as practice as a way to execute in order to get to the big show.”

“This is surreal. I can’t even really believe it right now. I’ve always been one of the best in the world, but have had some ups and downs. I know I’m one of the best and I showed that today.”

Keni Harrison, sixth place, 12.62

“I don’t know what happened. I’ll have to watch the film. I’m a loss to explain it, but this stuff happens in the hurdles. We’ve got a great group of girls representing the U.S. in Rio. I’ll go back home and prepare for the Diamond League meet in London.”

Men’s 3000m steeplechase, final

Evan Jager, first place, 8:22.48
On today’s race:
“Without really thinking about it too much, I was just planning on going at a K or three laps to go. I had a good water jump and found myself barely moving ahead of Mason with just over four laps to go. I found myself there and just decided to go for it. At four laps I picked it up a bit and then when I got to three laps to go my thinking was to try and go pretty hard and break the guys behind me. I had guys on me the whole time so it put a lot of pressure on me. I just tried to keep squeezing it down and run hard. It was a very tough last four laps for sure.”


On his goals for Rio:

“I got to a new level of fitness last year, but had a bad race in Beijing. I learned a little about myself from my racing style on the international scene. I had a full off-season and a full year of training to think about how I’m going to do things differently. I hope to execute in Rio and do things a bit differently and hopefully medal.”


Hillary Bor, second place, 8:24.10

“I became a citizen in 2013. When I joined the military I stopped running, and then I started running for fun. Last year was when I thought I had a chance [to make the Olympics] and started my coaching program up to now. I can’t believe I made the team.”


“Coming in, I knew the race was going to be for the last 800m, and watching the women’s steeplechase yesterday, I realized two ladies fell and died on the last two laps, so I wanted to be close to the leader, but make sure I have enough space that when I make a move, I’ll be able to close. The last 200m I realized three of the guys in front of me were not moving that fast, I just tried to boost the last 200m.”


Donn Cabral, third place, 8:26.37

“I was gapped by the top three and it looked like I wasn’t in contention to make the team at that point and I just told myself, ‘I need to close the gap as much as I can now, so that at 150 I can get into the top three spot.’ I was worried because I wasn’t feeling that good and the gap wasn’t closing. I knew that in the Olympic Trials so far there has been a lot of chaos and at that late in a race. I knew that if I stayed as close as I could that something would happen, either a bad hurdle or an inefficient one and I’m generally efficient at the end.”


“I don’t know if I found an extra gear or if everybody else just gave me the Olympic spot. Today was not my best race, I crossed the line and had to make myself feel happy because it was a really strange way to make the team. I got third and got my butt kicked, but I guess for better or for worse it played out how it did and I stayed clear.”

“I have a lot of fire to represent myself and represent the country well in Rio knowing that this is the work I have to do to get the level I need to be at and today didn’t show it.”  

Men’s discus throw, final

Mason Finley, first place, 63.42m/208-1

“It was really hard to grasp the discus with the weather. I threw much better in qualifying yesterday, but I think I threw pretty well today considering. I definitely wanted to get a good throw in one of the first two rounds.”

"It’s a huge relief, but that throw isn’t going to do very well in Rio. We’ve got to turn on the afterburners.”


On getting his weight down to 350 pounds after reaching 437 pounds in 2013:

“Man, I was huge. I educated myself on nutrition, and I do a lot of cardio in the morning before I lift.”


Tavis Bailey, second place, 61.57m/202-0

“It’s a relieving yet ecstatic feeling, and we knew the rain was coming, so you might as well get after it in the first round. I kept chasing because I thought somebody was gonna catch me, so through the competition, I kept trying to get a better one off. I knew I had it in me today, but that first round throw held up and I’m excited about it.”


“I think we’ve got a really good team. You hear some people talk trash about American discus throwing, but I definitely think the team we’re sending and the future of American discus is definitely coming around. We’ve got some talent going to Rio.”


On improving his golf game:

“Golf has kind of been my thing ever since I started playing about a year ago. I can hit it far, but sometimes it gets a little squirrelly and I don’t always find fairways, but I play about bogey golf right now, but I got to get some new clubs. One day I’ll be down in the 80s and 70s hopefully.”


Andrew Evans, third place, 61.22m/200-10

“I felt pretty sharp but the conditions obviously weren’t ideal, so while it wasn’t raining I really wanted to get a good throw out there and I did. That throw carried me through to the Olympic team.”


On if weather changes strategy:

“It doesn’t really change the strategy, but it changes your technique and your rhythm. You get a little more tentative, so for me that’s why I didn’t really produce any big marks today. Other than that, it’s just business as usual.”

Men’s 200m, semi-finals


Heat 1

Michael Norman, first place, 20.21

On talking to Gatlin after the race:

“I just asked him if he remembered me because we met a year ago at the Nike Elite Camp, so it was just a quick question. I didn’t want to talk to him before the race because everyone was getting in their zone...Yeah, he remembered me.”


“I’m not getting more comfortable, you know I’m still getting nervous, but I am trying to stay relaxed and learn to focus. I just want to think about myself more than anything else.”


Justin Gatlin, second place, 20.23

On the younger generation:

“Kids are kids, man. They are good at what they do, but the most important thing is the race. They can run against any of us in the Diamond League if they come ready and sharp. Going into the finals they feed off of each other. They come out to be giant killers. I will rise to the occasion when the time comes. There was a time when I was a giant killer.”


Heat 2

Noah Lyles, first place, 20.26

On following Norman’s lead:

“Michael hyped me up. I saw him going and was like, ‘Oh dang, he’s right outside Gatlin,’ and then ‘Oh snap, he just passed Gatlin.’ I got to get out there.”


“Me and Mike [Norman], I don’t mean to brag, but we’re pretty extraordinary. We came out here trying to do our best, show up and put a scene on for the crowd. I love putting on shows, and with good competition it’s an even better show because everybody likes to watch something cool, and we’re just trying to make something cool happen.”


Heat 3

LaShawn Merritt, first place, 19.74

“That felt good, I executed well and I have a great team here to keep my body fresh. I’m not sure (about Rio) if I will do both, I’m just trying to take it a race at a time. I need to stay humble and grounded and get some rest.”


Men’s 110m hurdles, first round

Heat 1

Jason Richardson, first place, 13.41

“I think I’m coming into shape at the right time. Historically I have a solid USA showing, so hopefully I can just keep my head down, stay careful and try to slide onto this team again.”

Heat 2

Ronnie Ash, first place, 13.39

On key to move through the rounds:
“You don’t want to relax too much, but you also want to conserve knowing you have some big fellas to deal with in the semis and finals.”

On his next round:

“I consider it the hardest round because it is just the top two and everyone is bringing it to try and get into those eight slots. I felt well, I looked well and we’ll take it into tomorrow and and see how it goes.”

Heat 3

Devon Allen, first place, 13.44

“It felt good running a clean race. That was definitely one of my cleaner rides of the season. It was my third fastest time this year, and I jogged through the line, so I’m pretty excited.”

Heat 4

David Oliver, first place, 13.68
“This is the same exact thing as always, you just race. I love racing and I’m glad to be here, but the Olympic Trials is no different than the USA Championships last year. Everyone wants to make the team so I’m here to do what it takes.”

On if he still gets nervous for the first round:
“I couldn’t really sleep last night because I had a lot of nerves, but I like that feeling. You get that first run under your belt and just move on to tomorrow.
I’m glad I won my heat and move onto the semifinals. 20 more barriers to go.

Women’s 200m, first round


Heat 1

Jenna Prandini, first place, 22.72

“I felt good. I just wanted to get out here and get a race under my belt. I did that so I’m happy. I got out hard and then relaxed and got through as easy as possible. I wanted to make sure I got a lane for the semi, but stay relaxed."


Heat 2

Allyson Felix, first place, 22.93
On running her first 200m since last September:

“It was good to get a 200m in and I felt comfortable. It has been a long time.”

On recovering from the 400m and the condition of her ankle:
I have more confidence in the ankle that it can withstand it. Nothing has really changed between the 4 and the 2. I just trying to see how it does on the curve.”


Heat 3

Deajah Stevens, first place, 22.91

“The 100m helped me get the jitters out and get in the rhythm of going fast, so it was good. My coach told me to get out and run the first 150m ankle over knee and get to the semis. I enjoy the 100, but I enjoy the 200 more.”


Heat 4

Ariana Washington, first place, 22.95

“Coach Curtis told us to try and win our heat(s) to get the best lane possible (for the semi-final), so I kind of relaxed coming off the turn, kept my posture and got the win. I’ve tried to stay focused, calmed and recovered (since the 100m).


Heat 5

Tori Bowie, first place, 22.74 (wind-aided)
“I think I’m very much prepared for the 200. The weather took me out of my element a bit. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day.”

On her motivation level knowing she is already on the Olympic team (100m):
“I’m already motivated. I like the 200m because it is my best event. I’m really looking forward to Rio.”


Heat 6

Gabrielle Thomas, first place, 22.91

“Coming into nationals I didn’t think I’d do as well as I did, and I think that made me realize how much potential I had. It feels amazing to get through the first round. The first round is always the worst, but next round I have nothing to lose, and I’ve got nothing to lose. Everyone’s going to be running a lot faster, and hopefully the weather will be a little better too.”

Women’s 100m hurdles, semi-finals

Heat 1
Brianna Rollins, first place, 12.60
On today’s rainy conditions:
“It’s pretty difficult, especially when you are going over barriers. You kind of see it (the rain) for your first few steps, but once you get over a hurdle, you get over it (the rain). You just have to remind yourself to stay focused and believe in yourself to get through each barrier.”


Heat 2

Kristi Castlin, first place, 12.77

“It was pretty good. I was pretty relaxed. Once it started raining so hard, I had to tell myself this is just going to be an execution race. I was technically pretty sound. Maybe it won’t be raining so hard during the final and I can really get my engines going.”

Dawn Harper Nelson, non-qualifying third place, 13.01

“I’m in complete disbelief. My trail was wide, and I’m like, what is happening here? I’ve never been in a position where people took and I couldn’t respond.”

“Tears will come. Right now I’m in shock. I’m not saying it’s my last Trials.”


Heat 3

Queen Harrison, first place, 12.78

“The thing about it is no matter the elements, you have to be able to perform. It sucks that it’s raining, but these people paid hard money to see a show. Rain or shine, we’ve got to give it to them.”

Keni Harrison, second place, 12.91

“I’m pretty confident going into the final. I’d rather run slow in the semis than in the final.”


Men’s 1500m, semi-finals


Heat 1

Izaic Yorks, first place, 3:47.67

“I really like that round, got to play with some tactics and the rain is treating me really nice. I got out and closed that last lap hard, letting everyone know that I’m not just a leader from the gun. I can play both games. I’m hoping the other heat goes faster. The time we ran wasn’t that fast. I would like to see most of the time qualifiers come from that heat."


Heat 2

Ben Blankenship, first place, 3:44.24

“I’m just trying to move through the rounds and live to fight another day. I was hoping maybe everybody with the standard would get eliminated and then Sunday would be a victory lap, but apparently not. I felt like there was a lot of traffic from the outside and wanted to move up with as little energy as possible.”


Matthew Centrowitz, second place, 3:44.29

“Each round is going to get more and more competitive, but our heat had a lot of previous Olympians in a pretty stacked field, so we’ve got to take each round seriously, and honestly, I’m happy to qualify for the final. In these conditions, I don’t think anyone really wants to take the lead. It’s pretty tough to lead in the rain and win, so I kind of expected that type of race.”

Men’s high jump, qualifying


Erik Kynard, qualified, 2.14m/7-0.25

“It was a little wet. I took one jump and it felt like it was in a swimming pool.”

Men’s 400m hurdles, semi-finals


Heat 1

Michael Tinsley, first place, 49.15

“I want to start off saying that black lives matter. My condolences to the people who lost their lives to cops and condolences go out to the cops that were killed in Dallas.”


Heat 2

Johnny Dutch, first place, 49.20

“It’s going to really be about not only maturity in the event, but purpose. What’s your purpose for making the team? I felt like I was born to do this, and I know I don’t have the fastest time going into the finals, but you don’t need the fastest time, you just need a good place.”


Kerron Clement, second place, 49.28

“It’s the will to win and the will to make the team. I’m excited to have a chance to make my third Olympic team.”

Women’s 1500m, semi-finals


Heat 1

Jenny Simpson, first place, 4:10.09

“I’m so happy to be through to the final. It doesn’t matter how many times you do it or how confident you are, it’s a relief to be through. As you whittle it down, there is a higher concentration of really good people and you stand on the line thinking that these people can run a hard and fast race. I never looked at the clock but I just knew I had to come into today thinking of it not as a qualifier, but just to compete.”


Heat 2

Brenda Martinez, first place, 4:11.05

“I feel like if I needed to use my extra gears they were there, which is good. I was kind of aware of what was going on in the front, and it seemed like they were going to attack the pace, but I just sat in the back. My coach probably wanted me more in the front, but I didn’t want to run over lane three.”

Women’s pole vault, qualifying

Jenn Suhr, top qualifier, 4.50m/14-9

“I feel sad for the vaulters who jumped during the height of the rain.”


On waiting until 4.50m to take her one jump:

“When you have to wait for weather like that, you think this is how bad things happen. I stuck to my plan. You’re safer coming in at the height you planned.”


Demi Payne, did not qualify, 4.25m/13-11.25

“I went out at 14 feet, and normally I don’t even open at that height. I think I was little too nervous.”


On returning to competition after damaging a tendon in her left hand at the Texas Relays:

“It’s been a battle. I’ve been able to practice about three times (since Texas). I’ve always been a fighter, so I was going to be here no matter what. I had huge goals for this season, but I guess everything happens for a reason.”

Women’s 400m hurdles, semi-finals


Heat 1

Sydney McLaughlin, first place, 55.23

“The rain messed up my hair, but that’s OK. I made it to the final.”


Heat 2

Dalilah Muhammad, first place, 54.14

“I felt good, you know I wanted to just get out there and execute. My coach told me to run it like a final and to not hold back.”

“I knew Jaide [Stepter] when she was a senior and she was on her recruiting trip to USC. I’m very proud of her.”


Amanda Brooks
Marketing and Communications Manager
USA Track & Field

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