467743_ORIG

Eaton, Felix honored as top American track athletes

Leave a comment

As if a gold medal and world record weren’t enough, American decathlete Ashton Eaton added another prestigious trophy to his mantle Monday, taking home the Jesse Owens award given to the best U.S. men’s track athlete each year by the USATF.

But even after all the honors and accolades, Eaton still thinks his best is yet to come.

“I can improve in all of my events,” Eaton told the Associated Press. “And I don’t know by how much… the discus is something I haven’t figured out yet. The javelin is something I haven’t figured out yet. The pole vault — there still is a steep learning curve. Maybe the hurdles, as well.”

Eaton, who’d also love to join the 4x400m team, broke Roman Sebrle’s long-standing world decathlon record at the U.S. Trials in June, and then became the twelfth American to win Olympic gold in the event.

On the women’s side, three-time London gold medalist Allyson Felix won the USATF athlete of the year honors after finally winning the women’s 200m race following back-to-back silvers in Athens and Beijing. It was Felix’s record fourth Jesse Owens award, but first following an Olympics.

Now that she’s reached the summit of her best event, Felix is contemplating a serious run at the 400m gold come Rio, but knows there’s plenty of time to make that decision. For now she’ll continue volunteering with Right to Play, an organization intent on getting kids around the world involved in sports.

U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
Getty Images
3 Comments

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

VIDEO: Race against Usain Bolt’s world record with ‘BeatBot’

Bob Costas’ report 100 days out from Rio (video)

Bob Costas
NBC News
Leave a comment

Bob Costas reported from Rio de Janeiro for NBC News on Wednesday, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony.

In the clip below, Michael PhelpsSimone Biles and even Brazil soccer legend Pelé comment on preparing for the first Games in South America.

Costas finished the clip with a stand-up from Copacabana Beach, where beach volleyball will take place in August.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics