The roar was deafening and all-consuming when three Oregon-based runners fought their way to the finish line of the men's 800 metres at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon on Day 4, Monday, June 30, 2008. The entire stadium was standing up and screaming, yelling, doing anything to urge hometown favourites Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating and Christian Smith to the finish line. Coming into this meet, Christian Smith was virtually unknown, and achieved his A standard in finishing third in a tremendous lean at the tape that sent him tumbling to the turf. He sported a major road rash on his shoulder and a bit of limping as he was herded to the drug testing center. Wheating had his mouth open in an 0 down the entire homestretch. And how did Symmonds get out of that box and blow by everyone? Videos show some shenanagans at the finish line during the desperate dive for third, but Khadevis Robinson's interview on RunnerSpace.com was tremendous. What class. What honesty faced with full-time work and a family and minimal sponsorship. But oh, my. This is believed to be Wheating's 12th 800 but we don't know all the races and all the math. That will come up in future days, certainly. Up in the stands, in Section U, former UO sprinter and a long-time Eugene resident, Carol "Animal" Amaral-Higgins started crying. It's been a long time for Eugene fans to get hyped up about someone.
Delilah DiCrescenzo, a Columbia University graduate representing Riadha/Puma and the topic of Great White T's song, "Hey There Delilah" finished 5th in her heat to advance to the final (she's in the white and black running in the back.) Delilah says she's going to the Grammys with the group but isn't picking out her Grammy dress yet because she's concentrating on making the Olympic team.
Nicole Teter had already made an Olympic Trials A standard in the 800 when she was slam dunked to the track during the women's 800 heats. All the women who fell were advanced to the final. Close observers of the race blame Kameisha Bennett for causing the tumble. While Kameisha Bennett was among the reinstated and finished third in the Olympic Trials final, fourth-place finisher Nicole Teter took the third spot on the women's 800 team to Bejing because Bennett had not met the A standard prior to the race, and did not achieve it in the final.
If you've never been to a meet in Eugene, then now is the time to start booking your tickets for 2012, if you can. Even without a Duck on the track, tremendous respect is being paid to the men and women who are trying to make this Olympic Team in 2008. The fans are hyper knowledgeable and engaging, passionate and fun. This community has been most accommodating to the athletes and fans. Every sunny day in Eugene is heaven.