Sports Zone

USA’s elite athletes to sparkle in Emerald Valley

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CRESWELL – In the United States we call it Track and Field: the rest of the world calls it Athletics. The biggest competitions in the sport are The Olympics, held every four years and The World Games, held every two years. This June 19-24, the best track and field athletes in the United States will compete for positions on the United States Olympic Team.
The Olympics start July 22 in Tokyo, Japan.
The United States Track and Field Team Trials will be held at the new Hayward Field in Eugene – the historic field named for track and field coach Bill Hayward who ran the University of Oregon program from 1904-47. The old stadium had character, tradition, quirks and occasional discomforts. It also had a crowd whose intimacy, knowledge, passion and sense of history about the sport wove competitions together, inspired great performances by the athletes and easily overcame anything the stadium lacked in amenities.
Over decades Hayward athletes, fans, announcers, officials and countless thousands of volunteers and supporters formed the communities’ love of the sport.
People worldwide know of the passionate crowds at Hayward Field.
Athletes feed on the Hayward Field crowd; it makes them better. I cannot recount how many times I have witnessed athletes enchanted by their first visit to Hayward who then went on to set personal bests.
That is why Hayward plays host to The Trials for the sixth time, and why our southern Willamette Valley community will host The World Athletic Games in 2012. There are people who love track and field all over the world who may not know where Oregon is but they know about Hayward Field.
Less than two years ago the humble, old-world stadium built of wood, steel and concrete was demolished, making way for a spectacular venue capable of holding 35,000 people. Care has been taken to preserve in the new stadium the proud heritage of the old one. There will be touches of the old Hayward built into the new stadium and respect for the community’s connection to the heritage will be honored. Hayward Field will be open for all to use; it’s not just the new Hayward Field, it’s your new Hayward Field.
There is a primal nature to track and field:
Whoever crosses the line first in the race, wins.
Whoever clears the bar at its highest, wins.
Whoever throws the javelin, shot put, hammer or discus the furthest, wins.
On some level most of us can relate to the events. With a pair of sneakers we could run, jump and throw – just not with the same results, of course.
At its most basic level, track and field does not require sophisticated equipment or elaborate fields of play, there are no subjective judges assigning style points. If we (I am a track and field official) had to, our events could be measured with a stopwatch and a tape measure even if today we use lasers and more-precise timing equipment. Whomever crosses the line first, clears the bar at its highest, or throws the Javelin, Shot Put, Hammer or Discus the furthest, wins.
If there is one thing all Olympians have in common it is dedication and discipline. Many humans are born with gifted physiques and abilities, but no one makes The Olympics on raw talent. These athletes are devoted and work hard at what they do and when outcomes matter, athletes perform at their best.
There will be no shortage of motivation for The Trials – every athlete will compete for the chance to run, jump or throw for his or her country and the glory of competing in The Olympics.
Over the next twenty-five weeks will inform, educate and entertain you in preparation for The Trials.
We will explore the history, techniques, people, and controversies that are part of the competition so that on June 19 we’re ready for this huge, communal event. Consider this series your guidebook for the event, and make plans to attend. There are extraordinary, and free, competitions open to the public.
My passion is to share perspective on the events, athletes, coaches, officials, organizers and volunteers who make it all happen – gleaned from 23 years officiating track and field. I am indebted to so many who have and continue to teach me about this sport, including a panel of illustrious experts of athletes and coaches who have agreed to act as sources for our coverage.
I want you to understand what a high school kid from Creswell, Cottage Grove, Springfield and Pleasant Hill feels when they come to Hayward for the first time.
Long before the ”Welcome to Eugene, Population 171,210: Tracktown USA” signs appeared, there were thousands of athletes who came to Hayward Field to show who they were and what shaped them in the forests, deserts, farms, ocean, rivers, urban density and rural solitude of Oregon.
For every story of victory, there are 10 more of defeat and track and field is demanding on its athletes.
Glory’s counterpart is failure; how different people handle that with great dignity is inspiring.
Citius, Altius, Fortius!



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