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Seen and Heard with Team USA – Notes on a rubel

• Tragedy struck Friday afternoon as Wifi was down in the team hotel for several hours.  Athletes and staff, including national office staff, found themselves disconnected from the world and held conversations and wrote notes on paper.  If the outage continues, smoke signals and carrier pigeons may be employed.

• Who’s the “most adorable track couple?”  Some say Ashton and Brianna Eaton, but Jenny Simpson and her husband Jason may disagree.

“We are the adorable track couple,” said Jenny jokingly after the couple had returned from a morning run on Friday.  Jason is staying a different Moscow hotel but says that they run together throughout the year normally at least three times a week.

Jason is a graphic designer.  Simpson starts her first round of the 1500m on Sunday.

• Will Claye may not be the barber of Seville, but he arrived in Russia on Thursday with clippers in hand.  Mookie Salaam was his first customer, fellow Gator Tony McQuay was his second and five more “heads” followed.  Claye says that he started cutting hair in high school and he “messed up a lot of people’s hair back then.” He added,  “Team USA gets a cut for free, but the guys from other countries have to pay.”

• Coach Bobby Kersee gave his group a special treat Thursday night - he cooked dinner for Dawn Harper, Allyson Felix and Jenebah Tarmoh.  Kersee has played chef many times for his training group through the years, so Moscow was no exception.  The menu consisted of appetizers, salad, steak, and potatoes.

• Kylie Hutson is used to clearing obstacles, but the trip to Europe was a different challenge.  For several days at training camp, Hutson used borrowed poles as hers enjoyed an extended stay at Heathrow airport.  The adventure continued as she lost her passport prior to flying to Moscow. She hopped on the team charter from Linz, but was detained in customs and immigration at the airport in Moscow for several hours.

The U.S. Embassy in Russia and Team USA officials came through in the clutch, replacing her passport so the pole vaulter could join the team just hours after its arrival.  Her poles showed up, too.

• Team USA held its team meeting Friday afternoon and nearly 150 people squeezed into a conference room at the hotel.  Introduced were President and Board Chair Stephanie Hightower, board members Ken Taylor, Dr. Evie Dennis, and CEO Max Siegel.  Athlete representatives on the board Aretha Thurmond and Deena Kastor were also introduced.  Kastor competes in the marathon on August 10.

• Speaking of Hightower, she was a member of the 1980 team who didn’t come to Moscow because of the U.S. boycott.  Hightower was a 100m hurdler and held the world record at one time.

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