Discus champion Valarie Allman performs at Olympic athletics trials
Valarie Allman competes in the women’s discus final on Day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon.
EUGENE, Ore. – We are only two days away from the US Olympic Trials – Track and Field and we have already seen perhaps the most dominant performance in the competition. Valarie Allman won the women’s discus by 7.38 meters (24 feet, 3 inches) and her five legal throws would have easily won the event.
The 26-year-old Stanford graduate rolled a 69.45 (227-10) in the first round and could have just sat and watched the rest of the competition from the infield at the newly renovated Hayward Field. Instead, Allman improved to 69.92 (229-5) with her next throw, just off the US record of 70.15 (230-2) she set last year. It’s also a mark that no other American woman has ever achieved. (She pitched even better in Friday’s prelims, hitting 70.01 / 229-8.)
Allman is now heading to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as one of the favorites for the gold medal. She will join Lillian Copeland (1932) and Stephanie Brown Trafton (2008) as the only Americans to win an Olympic title in this event.
Unheralded Micaela Hazlewood threw a personal best over two meters, reaching 62.54 (205-2) for second. Although the top three in each test event generally qualify for the Olympics, Hazlewood does not have the qualifying standard for Tokyo (63.50 meters), so she will have to wait to see if she gets a quota spot based. about the world of world athletics. rankings. The University of Kentucky graduate only finished 11th at the last USATF Outdoor Championships, in 2019.
Third place Rachel Dincoff struggled in the opening rounds but hit 60.21 (197-6) on her fifth pitch to advance to qualifying. The Auburn alum locked her place for Tokyo as she had already reached the qualifying standard.
For Allman, the motivation for this moment began when she finished sixth at the last Olympic trials, just a meter from third place. “It’s impossible not to think about being here in 2016 and what that experience was like,” Allman said. “I missed him by three feet, which was really bittersweet. But I realized at that point that I wanted to try again to be an Olympian and represent the United States. To be here for five years now. later after so much hard work it’s the best feeling. I feel on Cloud Nine. I’m so excited and can’t wait to be in Tokyo. “
Since the disappointment, she has finally reached the next level of the event. She placed seventh at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar, and her American record (in her only meeting of 2020, due to the pandemic) was the longest throw in the world since 2018 (Jorinde Van Klinken of des Netherlands has since gone further with an effort of 70.22 last month.)
The Croatian Sandra Perkovic, reigning double Olympic gold medalist, and Cuban Yaimé Perez, 2019 world champion, are the main contenders again this summer. “There have been several [athletes] who have absolutely dominated for years, “Allman said.” And I’ve gone from seeing them as my idols to now trying to figure out how to see them as my rivals. Doha was a great experience and I felt like it was the first time I saw them as my competition. “
This newfound confidence was in the spotlight on Saturday. Allman was enjoying the adoration of savvy Hayward Field fans, who erupted into rhythmic applause before her final throw, when she claimed the victory.
“There was no better way to break into this stadium than the energy that this crowd brought tonight and yesterday,” she said after winning her third straight US title in the event. “When the crowd was cheering and the intensity was building, I was just trying to soak it up. Being able to go there and have nothing to lose is one of the most powerful feelings.”
Allman even seemed to encourage attention. “I’m normally a pretty shy person, but today I couldn’t help but lean into it,” she said.
Now she’s ready to take her show to the road – to Tokyo. She admits that her training has been so focused on the events that she has not imagined how the Games could play out. “I was so focused on trying to run this competition that I didn’t really let myself think about what I really need to focus on at the Olympics. But now that I think about it, I think that that’s probably the secret: just focus on one shot at a time. “
A busy day in the field
Garrett Scantling, who was unlucky fourth in the decathlon in the 2016 Olympic Trials, led after day one of this year’s 10-event-in-one competition, with a total of 4,494 points. The other five events will take place on Sunday.
“I just have to stay relaxed and get a good night’s sleep, which is hard to do in the middle of a decathlon because your mind goes to all kinds of places,” said Scantling, who had quit the sport after the last tries and had a brief stint in the NFL in 2017. He attended rookie camp with the Falcons and preseason training camp with the Jaguars as a wide receiver before being cut.
He found his way back to the track in 2019 and is now on the verge of finally clinching an Olympic spot. “If you have a dream you have to put work in it or someone else is going to come in and take your place,” Scantling said. “It might not have worked out the way people thought it would, but I took a lot. I’m doing exactly what I need to do.”
Two-time world champion Sam Kendricks was one of six men who led the pole vault qualifying at 5.65 meters (18-6 ½) on a blustery afternoon. Kendricks, the bronze medalist in Rio five years ago, acknowledged his experience for helping him deal with the chaos. “I’m not a smart guy but I’m trained in pole vault,” he said. “The conditions are going to hurt some guys and help others.”
Three-time Olympic medalist Will Claye was the top qualifier in the men’s triple jump, leaping to 16.85 meters (55-3 ½) while Marc Minichello led the men’s javelin preliminaries with a throw of 76.63 meters (251- 5).