Men's sprinters, hurdlers look to make Olympic Team

06-19-2008

Contact:
Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field
317-713-4690

INDIANAPOLIS - Tyson Gay, Jeremy Wariner, Wallace Spearmon, Xavier Carter, LaShawn Merritt, Terrence Trammell, Allen Johnson, Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson lead a stellar cast of stars looking to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team in the men's sprints and hurdles at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field, June 27 - July 6 at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

The top three finishers in each competition, who have met Olympic performance standards, will earn the ultimate prize of a spot on the Team USA roster for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

100 Meters

Tyson Gay will enter the Trials looking to duplicate his achievement of winning the 100m and 200m at the 2007 USA Outdoor Championships prior to winning the gold medal in both events at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Japan.

Gay, who will be gunning for his third consecutive U.S. 100m title at the Olympic Trials, posted the fastest time by an American this season May 31 with his 9.85-second clocking at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, which is the third-fastest time in the world this season.

Gay will be challenged in the 100m by two-time World Outdoor Championships 200m medalist Wallace Spearmon, who finished the 2007 campaign ranked #10 in the world by Track & Field News at 100 meters. Others to keep an eye on include 2007 NCAA champion Walter Dix, 2007 USA Outdoor 100m runner-up Trindon Holliday, 2007 USA Outdoor fourth-place finisher Mark Jelks and 2007 World Outdoor Championships 4x100m relay anchor leg gold medalist Leroy Dixon. 2006 NCAA 100m champion Xavier Carter could make the team in this event, though his specialty is the 200m and 400m.

A changing of the guard could be in the wind as newcomers Travis Padgett, Preston Perry and Michael Rodgers all look to qualify for their first Olympic Teams. The 2007 NCAA Indoor 60m champion, Padgett ran 10.00 seconds as a freshman at Clemson University in 2006. His time of 9.96 seconds from May 10 is his new personal best and currently sits #2 on the U.S. list. Perry is a former University of Houston standout, who clocked a personal best of 10.04 earlier this season and 2007 NAIA 100m champion and 2008 U.S. Indoor champ Mike Rodgers' time of 10.06 from his win earlier this year in Modesto, Calif., signifies him as a contender.

200 Meters

The reigning World and U.S. champion in the men's 200 meters, Gay posted the second-fastest time in the world this season with his 20.00-second win in Kingston, Jamaica, on May 3. Gay only ran in four 200m finals last season, but the times were spectacular ranging from 19.62 (2nd fastest all-time) to 19.78.

2007 World Champs bronze medalist Wallace Spearmon will look to win his second U.S. Outdoor title after finishing as the runner-up to Gay last year in Indianapolis, and Xavier Carter will look to bounce back with a strong performance after failing to finish the 200m last year in Indy due to an injury.

Other contenders include 2007 World Championships fourth-place finisher Rodney Martin, 400m ace LaShawn Merritt, who owns a 200m personal best of 19.98 seconds, Florida State star Walter Dix, whose 19.69 clocking in Gainesville is the seventh-fastest time in history and Shawn Crawford, who is the reigning Olympic champion.

400 Meters

The men's 400 meters has been contested on 26 occasions in Olympic competition with Team USA winning an astounding 19 gold medals, 12 silver and 10 bronze, and those totals should increase in Beijing following a sweep of the medals at last year's World Championships in Osaka.

Jeremy Wariner is the reigning world and Olympic champion, and he'll be looking to qualify for his second Olympic team. Ranked #1 in the world the last four years, Wariner, who was undefeated in all 10 finals races he finished last season, posted the fastest time in the world this year of 43.98 seconds with his win at Oslo on June 6. He'll be challenged in Eugene by Osaka silver medalist LaShawn Merritt, who achieved a victory over Wariner in Berlin on June 1 with his clocking of 44.03 seconds, which is the second-fastest time globally this season.

Reigning U.S. champion and Osaka bronze medalist Angelo Taylor also is a favorite to qualify for the Team USA Olympic roster, along with Olympic and World Championships 4x400m relay gold medalist Darold Williamson and 2007 NCAA runner-up and third-place finisher at last year's U.S. Nationals Lionel Larry. Other contenders include Xavier Carter, who won the NCAA title in 2006 and ended that year ranked #8 in the world by Track & Field News, and 2005 World Outdoor silver medalist and Athens relay gold medalist Andrew Rock.One other challenger to keep an eye on is up and comer Jordan Boase, who posted a new personal best of 44.82 seconds, which is #5 on the 2008 U.S. marks list.

110m Hurdles

Ending the 2007 season with six Americans ranked in the top ten in the world is a sure sign that the 110m hurdles competition in Eugene will be fierce and that whoever qualifies for the Olympic team will be battle tested.

Leading the Americans is reigning national champion and Osaka World Championships silver medalist Terrence Trammell, who finished the 2007 season as the top ranked American in the world at #3. Trammel is looking to add more hardware to his extensive trophy case that already features two Olympic silver medals.

A trio of young hurdlers will be looking to qualify for their first Olympic Team berths, led by David Payne, who was a surprise bronze medalist last year in Osaka with his personal best time of 13.02 seconds. Also keep an eye on 2007 USA Champs third-placer David Oliver, who owns three of the four fastest times in the world this season (12.95PR, 13.08, 13.10), and Ryan Wilson, who ran his personal best of 13.02 in winning at last year's Reebok Grand Prix in New York and ended the season ranked #9 in the world. One more to watch is 2006 NCAA Outdoor champion Aries Merritt, who ended that season ranked #6 in the world, #4 U.S.

Any current list of U.S. 110m hurdlers must include the incomparable Allen Johnson, who is looking to compete in his fourth Olympic Games, at age 37. The gold medal winner in 1996 in Atlanta, Johnson owns four World Outdoor Championship titles and has held nine #1 U.S. rankings.

400m Hurdles

Five Americans ended the 2007 campaign ranked in the top ten in the world in the men's 400m hurdles, with reigning world champion Kerron Clement topping the list. Clement's time of 47.79 seconds from his win in Kingston, Jamaica, on May 3 currently tops the world list.

Clement's top challenge at the Trials could come from 2005 World champion Bershawn Jackson, who finished a heartbreaking fourth at the 2004 Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif. Jackson has been in good form this season, owning the second and third-fastest times in the world this year (48.15, 48.32).

Reigning national champion and two-time Olympic Games fourth-place finisher James Carter also will contend for top honors. Carter ended the 2007 campaign ranked #3 in the world following wins at New York, Paris, Lausanne and the Drake Relays.

Others to watch for include 2007 U.S. Nationals fourth place finisher Kenneth Ferguson, who is ranked #7 in the world after last season, and rising stars Justin Gaymon, whose personal best time of 48.53 seconds from May 18 is fifth best in the world this season, and University of South Carolina freshman and 2007 Pan Am Junior 100mH and 400mH champion Johnny Dutch, whose personal best 48.68 clocking from earlier this season is seventh-best in the world this year.

For more information on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field, including status of entries and TV schedule, visit http://www.usatf.org/events/2008/OlympicTrials-TF/