Hayward Field, Eugene, USA, 5th – 10th July 2016.

Selection for the American Olympic Team is a simple if cut-throat process – finish in the first 3 at the Olympic Trials and, as long as you have the qualifying mark under your belt, you are on the plane to Rio. With that in mind the Trials can be a tense affair, even for the likes of reigning Olympic Champion Christian Taylor, who appreciate that one bad day can cost you 4 years of hard-work and best laid plans.

The Women’s event went to form as American Record Holder Keturah Orji dominated proceedings with a powerful and consistent series of 14.27m, 14.21m, 14.24m, 13.99m, 14.32m, 14.24m. Behind her Christina Epps was on the verge of an early exit following fouls with her first 2 efforts. With her 3rd attempt she hit 13.48m to move into 5th spot and earn 3 more efforts, but with just 13.38m in round 4 Rio must have seemed a long and distant hope. In Round 5 though she hit the big one – 14.17m – not only a new PB but good enough for 2nd place and her Olympic berth.

Thanks to her first round jump of 13.72m, Andrea Geubelle had been in 3rd place throughout the competition behind Orji and Imani Oliver’s opener of 13.78m, but when Epps hit her 14.17m in round 5 she knew she had to produced something extra to guarantee her Rio spot after attaining the Olympic Qualifying mark of 14.15m in June. With an instant response Geubelle hit 13.95m to move 3rd, but, having seen Oliver claim a new PB of 14.12m in qualifying, she still couldn’t relax. Oliver hit 13.71m in Round 5 and, after Geubelle could only make 13.67m in Round 6, the opportunity of a fairytale ending was there for Oliver with her last effort. She improved out to her best of the day, but 13.83m meant she would finish in 4th – the worst place to finish at the USA Olympic Trials.

1. Keturah Orji 14.32m
2. Christina Epps 14.17m (PB)
3. Andrea Geubelle 13.95m
4. Imani Oliver 13.83m
5. Ciarra Brewer 13.80m
6. April Sinkler 13.34m
7. Toni Smith 13.27m
8. Lynnika Pitts 13.26m
9. Tori Franklin 13.13m
10. Amanda Smock 13.12m
11. Crystal Manning 13.11m
12.Bria Matthews 13.04m

The Men’s competition featured the Gold and Silver medallists from London 2012 in Christian Taylor and Will Claye. Just over a month ago at the Eugene Diamond League Meeting they had battled out a similar contest to London with Taylor taking victory thanks to his last round World Lead of 17.76m ahead of Claye’s 17.56m. This time around they locked horns once more but Claye took the spoils as, after just missing out on a Long Jump place, his 5th Round leap of 17.65m (+2.0m/s) secured victory and his place in Rio. Knowing his place was safe he passed a 6th Round jump, but his series demonstrated he will be a major player in Brazil in just over 4 weeks time: 17.06m, 17.26w, 17.31m, 17.09m, 17.65m. Taylor had led going into the 5th Round thanks to his 3rd effort of 17.37m after opening up with 16.72m and 16.90m. A long foul in the region of 17.75m was his response to Claye’s winning leap, followed by 17.39m to finish off and confirm 2nd place. He now has the chance to become the first man since Viktor Saneyev to retain the Olympic Triple Jump title when he lines up in Rio next month.

There are never guarantees at the American Trials, but if anyone had assumed that Claye and Taylor would take 2 of the spots for Rio then there was always going to be hotly contested battle for the 3rd place on the plane. In the end just 5cm separated Chris Benard’s new PB of 17.21m from Omar Craddock’s 17.16m, with Matthew O’Neal hitting a windy 17.01w for 5th. Benard has jumped consistently well this season and his series in Eugene included 4 jumps of at least 17.12m to demonstrate that along with Claye and Taylor the Americans could be a dominant force in Rio. Indeed on the same day in Amsterdam Germany’s Max Hess took gold at the European Championships with a new PB of 17.20m – a mark that wouldn’t have made the American Team.

1. Will Claye 17.65m
2. Christian Taylor 17.39m
3. Chris Benard 17.21m (PB)
4. Omar Craddock 17.16m
5. Matthew O’Neal 17.01w
6. Chris Carter 16.81w
7. Donald Scott 16.69w
8. Shawn Johnson 16.58m
9. KeAndre Bates 16.50m
10. Brandon Roulhac 16.04w
11. Tony Carodine 15.87w
12. Eric Sloan NM

Written by iTripleJump

A Triple Jumper for over 35 years - from an over-hopping junior to a county-level senior - I still enjoy jumping in national and international Masters competitions in the event that has gripped me since my first hop, step and jump onto a springless PE mat. Waiting for that perfect jump. That one perfect jump ...

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