Olympic Trials Hammer Time Preview
The first day* of the U.S. Olympic Trials is "Hammer Time".
*oddly, this is not Day 1.
|2:15pm ET||Women Hammer Throw||qualifying (group A)|
|3:15pm ET||Women Hammer Throw||qualifying (group B)|
|4:15pm ET||Women Hammer Throw||Final|
|6:15pm ET||Men Hammer Throw||qualifying (group A)|
|7:15pm ET||Men Hammer Throw||qualifying (group B)|
|8:15pm ET||Men Hammer Throw||Final|
The hammer throw will be held at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and the day will end with the first qualifiers the 2012 Olympic team.
The hammer throw is one of the events in which Olympic "A" and "B" qualifiers come into play. For a complete discussion of what those mean and how they affect the US team selection, head over to TrackFocus.com.
Women's Hammer Throw
Jessica Cosby (Nike / Mission Hills, CA)
Amber Campbell (Nike / Myrtle Beach, SC)
Gwen Berry (New York AC / Carbondale, IL)
All three of these women have achieved the Olympic 'A' standard of 71.50 meters (234' 7"). This means that for any of them to be left off the Olympic team, someone else will have to both beat one of them and hit that distance.
Cosby broke the American Record at this year's Prefontaine Classic and is a four-time US champion. Campbell won in 2010 and has been runner-up to Cosby three times. Berry is a year out of Southern Illinois.
The Upstart: Jeneva McCall (Southern Illinois / Dolton, IL)
McCall won the NCAA title this year and trains with Berry, but to make the Olympic team she will have to add more to her PR in this one meet than she has in the last year. McCall is also an All-American in the shot put and discus.
The Long Shot: Brittany Riley (unattached / Carbondale, IL)
Riley was on the US team for the 2007 Worlds and possesses a PR of 72.51 meters (237' 10"), well beyond the Olympic 'A' standard, but left hammer throwing after the 2008 Olympic Trials and only mounted a comeback effort for 2012. Her best this year is 68.96 meters (226' 3"), well short of what she needs to make the team -- but if anyone has the ability to get the 'A' mark out of the blue, it's her.
The Sort of Famous: Keelin Godsey (unattached / North Adams, MA)
As a rule, hammer throwers are not famous, but Godsey got a picture and a profile in Sports Illustrated recently. The article was a deep and thoughtful piece on transgendered athletes. Godsey is a female as far as the IAAF and IOC are concerned, but identifies as a male and presents himself as such. He will begin a medical transition to malehood once his pursuit of the Olympics is over.
Men's Hammer Throw
A.G. Kruger (Nike / Ashland, OH)
Kibwé Johnson (New York AC / Kamloops, BC)
These are the only two Americans who have achieved the Olympic 'A' standard (78.00 meters / 255' 11"), a distance which is well beyond the PRs of all the other competitors, so it's pretty safe to pencil them in as on the Olympic team. Kruger is coming off a lifetime best set just two weeks ago. Johnson broke the magical 80 meter mark several times last year but has struggled so far this year. Both Kruger and Johnson have trained at Ashland with fomer Olympian Jud Logan; Kruger is still there, while Johnson has moved on to a Canada-based group coached by expat Ukrainian Anatoly Bondarchuck.
The Sentimental Pick: Maj. Michael Mai (US Army / Mountain View, CA)
34-year-old Mai, the former commander of the 9th Financial Management Company on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is benefiting from the Army's World Class Athletic Program; in addition to training, he works with the Reserves and recruiters. He has competed at the Worlds twice, where a nation can send a single 'B' qualifier in addition to one or two 'A's, but since the Olympics are more stringent he'll have to add over five feet to his PR in order to get that 'A' standard needed to make the team.
The Young Buck: Conor McCullough (Princeton / Canoga Park, CA)
McCullough is the U.S. high school and junior record holder, won silver at the 2008 World Junior Championships, and won gold at the '10 World Juniors. He missed most of the 2011 season while attending to family issues, and would have been the favorite to win this year's NCAA Championships but missed that meet due to eligibility issues. He stands little chance of making the Olympic team, but he's the big hope for the future in this event.
The Comeback Kid: Travis Nutter (unattached / Danville CA)
Nutter had two near misses at making the Olympic team. He finished third at the '04 Trials but lacked the necessary Olympic qualifying mark, and took fourth at the '08 Trials. After the last one, he hung it up and went to work in the custom cabinetry business. But a near-death experience in September of last year led him to question his priorities, and he began training again. He's well off the radar and would need to add about 30 feet to his seasonal best in order to make the Olympic team, but that's not the point. As he told Track and Field News, "If you're enough to be chasing a dream, you're lucky enough."