2008 Olympic Games roster spots at stake for U.S. men's jumpers


Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field

EUGENE, Ore. - A dazzling array of talented men's vertical and horizontal jumpers led by standouts Brad Walker, Dwight Phillips and Walter Davis, will compete 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.

Pole Vault

In 2007, Brad Walker won his third career U.S. Outdoor men's pole vault title before traveling to Osaka, Japan, and winning the gold medal at the World Outdoor Championships. Walker also won at the World Athletics Final and enjoyed a winning edge over each of his main rivals en route to ending the season as the world's #1 ranked pole vaulter for the first time since his initial top ranking in 2005.

Since winning the silver medal at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain, Walker's outdoor season has been highlighted by his win June 8 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene with his American record clearance of 6.04 meters/19 feet 9.75 inches. The world-leading performance this season, Walker's clearance in Eugene bettered Jeff Hartwig's American record set in 2000 of 6.03m/19-9.25, and also bested living legend Sergey Bubka's meet record of 5.95m/19-6.25. It was the highest clearance in the world since 2001.

Walker's challengers include the 40 year-old Hartwig, who still retains the American indoor pole vault record (6.02m/19-9, 2002) and ended the 2007 season ranked #2 in the nation, and veteran Tim Mack will attempt to qualify for his second Olympic team after bringing home the gold medal from Athens in 2004.

Other contenders include 2007 World Outdoor Championships team member Jacob Pauli, 2006 USA Outdoor champion and 2003 Pan Am Games silver medalist Russ Buller and 2004 Olympic Games finalist Derek Miles, who posted the second best mark by an American this outdoor season with his clearance of 5.80/19-0.25 in placing second to Walker at the Nike Prefontaine Classic. Also keep an eye on Hayward Field fan favorite Tommy Skipper, who won three NCAA Outdoor crowns as a student-athlete at the University of Oregon.

High Jump

2006 NCAA champion and two-time World Championship team member Jesse Williams will be looking to qualify for his first Olympic team in Eugene. His 2007 season featured European Grand Prix wins in Athens and Belem, and he ended the year ranked #8 in the world and #1 in the U.S.

Other contenders include reigning U.S. Outdoor champ and 2007 World Championships team member Jim Dilling, 2004 Olympic team member and 2006 USA Outdoor champion Tora Harris, along with reigning Olympic Trials champion and Athens Olympics fourth-place finisher Jamie Nieto.

The wild card in this event is University of Nebraska senior Dusty Jonas, who leads the 2007 world list with his clearance of 2.36 meters/7 feet 8.75 inches from his win May 18 in Boulder, Colo. His performance is a whopping three inches better than his previous career best coming into this season. Also keep an eye on 2008 World Indoor bronze medalist and 2002 World Junior champion Andra Manson, who won the NCAA Outdoor title in 2004 and was the runner-up in that event on two occasions.

Long Jump

It hasn't taken long for 2004 Olympic gold medalist Dwight Phillips to be considered among the best men's long jumpers in history. A two-time World Outdoor champion and 2003 World Indoor Championships gold medalist, Phillips won his fifth consecutive USA Outdoor title last summer and capped off the 2007 campaign with a bronze medal at the World Outdoor Championships in Osaka.

Phillips will be challenged 2006 USA Outdoor champion and 2005 World Outdoor Championships team member Brian Johnson, who owns three of the top seven jumps in the world this year, including the current U.S. leader of 8.30 meters/27 feet 2.75 inches.

Two-time World Outdoor Championships finalist and 2005 USA Outdoor champion Miguel Pate will be in the mix, along with 2007 USA Outdoor Champs fourth-place finisher and 2004 Olympic long jumper Walter Davis.

Triple Jump

Although he has not competed recently due to a series of minor injuries, Walter Davis has been ranked #1 nationally in the men's triple jump in six of the last seven years and is a heavy favorite to make the U.S. roster for Beijing.

The 2005 World Outdoor and 2006 World Indoor triple jump champion, Davis owns three USA Outdoor triple jump titles and was victorious in the long jump at the 2003 USA Outdoor Championships. He is considered one of the greatest combination long/triple jump champions in history. Davis won the bronze medal in the triple jump at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships and ended the season ranked #3 in the world (#1 U.S.).

Reigning USA Outdoor champion Aarik Wilson had his strongest season ever last year featuring wins on the European Circuit in Berlin, Sheffield, Lucerne and London, where he established a new career best mark of 17.58 meters/57 feet, 8.25 inches. Wilson finished the 2007 campaign with a best-ever world ranking (#4) and is ranked #2 in the U.S. for the second consecutive year.

World Outdoor Championships team member Lawrence Willis should be in contention following his impressive runner-up finish at last year's USA Outdoor Championships, and 2007 USA Indoor runner-up and 2006 NCAA Outdoor champion Rafeeq Curry currently sits atop the U.S. list with his personal best winning effort of 17.22m/56-6 in Tallahassee, Fla., on March 29.

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/.