track and field

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 18:  Ashton Eaton of the United States competes in the Men's Decathlon Javelin Throw on Day 13 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Ashton Eaton seeks exit strategy with one decathlon box left to check

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A defining moment of Ashton Eaton‘s career came at a competition where he could not take part. On May 30, 2015, Eaton withdrew before the start of a decathlon in Götzis, Austria, citing a back injury.

Götzis is the multi events’ Augusta National or Wimbledon. The decathlon world record was broken there three times since 1980, including the first 9,000-point score by Czech Roman Sebrle in 2001.

Eaton had never competed in Götzis, previously also withdrawing due to injury, and missing another chance at the annual meet clearly bothered him last year.

Yet Eaton still showed up. After all, his wife, Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton, would compete in the heptathlon at the meet. But on that first day of competition, Eaton grabbed a microphone and addressed the stadium in a way that spoke to his character.

“This competition is not about me,” Eaton said to the crowd, a good number of them having shown up hoping to see Eaton challenge his world record in his first decathlon in 19 months. “Don’t make this Ashton Eaton isn’t competing thing part of this competition because that would be criminal. You would be stealing a great experience from all of the athletes.”

Today, the decathlon is far from the front of Eaton’s mind. He is coming off his second straight Olympic title and set to travel to British Columbia, Peru and Kenya with his wife the next several weeks.

Eaton has said he will retire from track and field before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He may not even compete past next season.

There is little left for Eaton to accomplish in the decathlon. He has two Olympic titles, two world titles and two world records. But there is one box left to check.

“I know I would want to do Götzis,” Eaton said in a phone interview while promoting sponsor QALO recently.

It’s not about righting a wrong or making up for withdrawing from the Austrian meet in 2013 and 2015 due to injuries.

“It’s more of a sense of missing out on something very cool,” Eaton said. “It’s the home of the multi events, really.”

Eaton isn’t ready to commit yet, but he could see a scenario where he trains through the Götzis meet in May and then decides if he wants to compete at the 2017 World Championships in London, where he won his first Olympic gold medal. He has a bye into worlds as the defending champion.

“It would be a nice bookend,” Eaton said.

When Eaton recently spoke with 1976 Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner on the phone, Eaton had one main question: Was it tough to leave the sport?

Jenner never competed in another decathlon after the Montreal Games. Jenner woke the day after the 1976 decathlon, looked into a hotel mirror, naked except for the gold medal, and said, “What the hell am I going to do now?” according to Sports Illustrated.

Maybe Eaton knew this when he asked Jenner earlier this month. Regardless, he liked the response.

“I just looked back, and I said thanks for the great time and all the memories, and then moved on,” Jenner, who went on to endorsements galore to become America’s “Apple Pie Hero,” told him.

Eaton has fewer options than Jenner did, but certainly different and perhaps more ambitious ones, such as starting a university, according to The Associated Press.

“Track has shaped me a lot, and there will be a time to move on,” Eaton said. “I imagine it won’t be super difficult, because I’ll have fond memories.”

MORE: Allyson Felix eager to double again

Sprinter Tyson Gay withdraws from today’s bobsled competition

EUGENE, OR - JULY 09:  Tyson Gay reacts after the Men's 200 Meter Final during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on July 9, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Tyson Gay will no longer compete today at the USA Bobsled National Push Championships, USA Bobsled confirmed.

Gay, the American 100m record holder, recently started pushing a sled with the goal of making the U.S. team for the 2016-17 World Cup season.

But after arriving in Calgary on Monday, Gay met with the coaching staff and decided that it was not in his best interest to compete in today’s men’s push athletes competition.

He could still enter the men’s two-man combinations Friday or the men’s three-man combinations Saturday.

Even if he does not compete this weekend, Gay could still make the U.S. team. First-year athletes are waived from the rule that requires athletes to compete at the USA Bobsled National Championships in order to compete during the World Cup season, which this year begins the last weekend of November.

USA Bobsled will have more details on Gay in a press release later today.

Gay’s U.S. Olympic track teammates Ryan Bailey and Lolo Jones are also entered in Calgary. Jones represented the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Bailey’s switch to bobsled was announced last month.

MORE: Johnny Quinn leaves door open for bobsled return

Allyson Felix eager to double again

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 20:  Allyson Felix of the United States reacts after winning gold during the Women's 4 x 400 meter Relay on Day 15 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — Allyson Felix reflected on her trying season and looked ahead in an interview while at a USA Track and Field Hershey RunJumpThrow event across from Central Park earlier this month.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist, spoke three weeks after taking silver in the 400m in Rio, competing after partially tearing two ligaments in her right ankle in late April.

She had hoped to go for a 200m-400m double in Rio — the Olympic schedule was even changed to make it more accommodating after her coach’s request — but, while slowed even more by the ankle, she finished fourth in the 200m at the Olympic Trials in July, missing the Olympic team in her trademark event by .01.

Here are highlights from the interview:

OlympicTalk: Given the circumstances, could you have asked for a lot more this year?

Felix: It was an insane year. I can put it into perspective now. I’m definitely still disappointed, even though things didn’t go as I planned before [the Olympics], I was still hoping to be able to pull it out. So Rio was really challenging for me. Even when I got there, it just seemed like things kept happening. It was a tough time, but I feel like I learned a lot of lessons. I’m so grateful that I was even able to have that experience.

OlympicTalk: Were you 100 percent in Rio?

Felix: I was good enough to compete. They told me [in Rio] I still have six months before my ankle is not going to feel anything, but I felt like I was good enough to go out there and compete. Ankles are just tricky. It’s one of those things where you’re still going to have residual pain. But it was nothing I couldn’t manage.

OlympicTalk: A lot of athletes ended their seasons at the Olympics — Usain Bolt, Wayde van Niekerk, Justin Gatlin. Why did you race in Zurich [on Sept. 1], especially coming off the ankle injury?

Felix: It’s always very tough to compete after a major championship. I had already made the commitment earlier in the year [to compete at the meet in the 200m], and the only 200m I had was at Olympic Trials. So I just wanted to see where I was at. I know I wasn’t prepared how I should be prepared, but I just wanted to kind of see where my speed was.

OlympicTalk: Did Zurich [finishing third behind the Olympic gold and silver medalists] give you any thought of how it would have gone in the 200m in Rio?

Felix: It’s never fun to lose, but that [Zurich] race was actually really encouraging because I know my preparation. And I know the speed work was not there. So to be able to come out and run 22, close to 22 flat, I know that once the [speed] work is there, I’ll be able to be competitive.

OlympicTalk: Do you see yourself as more of a 400m runner now?

Felix: No, I’m always hanging onto the 200m. I just feel like I haven’t ran it [the 200m] in the past few years, for one reason or the other [neither at the 2015 Worlds due to a tight schedule nor 2016 Olympics due to not qualifying]. The opportunity hasn’t quite been there. I’m excited, looking forward to this year [2017]. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do, but I know that I’m not done with the 200m yet.

OlympicTalk: Does what happened this year make you want to do the double even more or not do it?

Felix: It definitely does make me want to do it because my training was going so well before [the injury]. I’m just so curious what I could have done. That’s the thing that really eats me up, to know that I wasn’t at my best to be able to do it. To see where I would be in four years, I don’t know. Or at a world championships [in 2017 or 2019], I’m not sure.

OlympicTalk: Being a Los Angeles native, who would you choose to speak to the IOC members on LA 2024’s behalf at the vote next September?

Felix: I would love to see a lot of people who were around in ’84. Not necessarily L.A. home people, but people who were competing — Valerie Brisco-Hooks, even Jackie [Joyner-Kersee]. Even some great L.A. people who not so much connected to the [1984] Olympics, but Magic Johnson, just L.A. people in general. I think there are a great mix of people that are lobbying for this to come.

OlympicTalk: If you could change one thing about track and field to increase its popularity, what would it be?

Felix: That’s a really tough question. There’s a lot of things that we could alter, but I would love to see more street races. More events surrounding the sport where people can be up close to it, be entertained, instead of a traditional track meet.

OlympicTalk: Is there anybody you enjoy watching in track and field, not including training partners and friends?

Felix: I’m a fan of the sport, so there’s a number of them. I love watching [2012 Olympic 400m champion] Kirani [James] compete. Where the men’s 400m is now, I mean, Wayde [van Niekerk] was amazing. I think they never shy away from races. They’re competitors. I love watching the jumps. What Jeff [Henderson] did in Rio [in the long jump] was amazing. I love watching Emma [Coburn in the 3000m steeplechase], an event that is so foreign to me. She’s the sweetest.

MORE: Usain Bolt, coach differ on 2017 Worlds races