SBD/August 9, 2012/Olympics

U.S. Track & Field Team Sweeps Last Night's Competition, Making Headlines

Felix' win in 200 meters was one of the seven U.S. track & field medals Wednesday
The U.S. last night had “one of the best nights in its Olympics track and field history,” as it took home seven of the total 12 medals available, according to Barry Svrluga of the WASHINGTON POST. Allyson Felix’ victory in the women’s 200 meters was the “centerpiece of a night that also brought gold for Brittney Reese in the women’s long jump and Aries Merritt in the men’s 110-meter hurdles.” And the Americans “merely beat other Americans, because Carmelita Jeter took bronze behind Felix; Janay DeLoach did the same behind Reese; and Jason Richardson followed Merritt to the line for silver.” With three days remaining, Americans “already have 20 medals at Olympic Stadium, 11 from the women alone.” That total is “a bigger haul for the U.S. women’s track and field team in any Olympics other than 1984, which was diluted by the Soviet-led boycott” (WASHINGTON POST, 8/9). USA TODAY's David Leon Moore noted it was the "biggest one-night medal haul" for USA Track & Field since the '92 Barcelona Games. Merritt said, "Everyone on this team works really hard and the fruits of our labor are finally being shown here" (USA TODAY, 8/9). In N.Y., Christopher Clarey writes there was “no doubt about which nation prevailed” last night. Former USATF CEO Doug Logan “set the 30-medal goal for London before being dismissed,” and his replacement, Max Siegel, has “endorsed it.” Although the goal is “far from a sure thing, it is certainly within range” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/9). ESPN's Jackie MacMullan wrote under the header, "U.S. Track Team Restores Order." Last night's results are a "huge boost for an often maligned group of athletes whose disappointment in Beijing lingered for years, not months." Richardson said, "We've got a lot to be excited about" (ESPN.com, 8/8).

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? In N.Y., Andrew Das notes while the Olympic decathlon “boasts some of the top all-around athletes in the world, its drawn-out schedule and its complicated scoring system seem to give it a low profile even in Olympic years.” Even with the “help of tape delay, NBC announcers would struggle to explain to viewers why a 100-meter time of 10.3 seconds would be worth 1,023 points, but a 10.5 counts for only 975.” U.S. decathlete Ashton Eaton, who is the “clear favorite to win” the Gold Medal today, said, “I don’t think the fans really understand how it works. But I think they’re learning, because pretty close to an entire stadium was staying today for the decathlon shot-put, which isn’t too exciting” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/9).

REWORK THE FORMULA: The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Roger Blitz writes the Games “mask the generally impoverished state of athletics.” Set aside its “showpiece global events and what is left is a sport struggling for sponsors and broadcasters, participants and a grassroots structure.” One solution would be to “rethink track and field along the lines of the short-format concepts that have revived interest in cricket and rugby” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/9).
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