Emma Coburn wins Olympic Trials steeplechase, eyes end to U.S. drought

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Stephanie Garcia was in the mix for an Olympic spot in steeplechase until the final lap.

First, she got passed for the third position.

Then, in her quest to catch up, she stumbled over the last barrier and went tumbling.

Emma Coburn, Courtney Frerichs and Colleen Quigley got the trips to Rio. Garcia said she still earned a victory of sorts.

“I knew if I didn’t make it, then I was going to make those who did work very, very hard,” she said.

Coburn, the American record holder, prevailed in 9:17.48, followed by first-time Olympians Frerichs (9:20.92) and Quigley (9:21.29).

Coburn goes to her second Olympics, after finishing ninth in London and fifth at the 2015 World Championships, eyeing the first U.S. Olympic or world medal in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, which was first contested in 2005.

“Our international competition is really good, and there are a few Kenyans, but there’s also a Tunisian and a German and a Bahrainian and an Ethiopian,” Coburn said. “It’s all over the place. I think what’s most impressive is when looking across all countries we seem to have the most depth for women who can run under 9:25. We have a really deep field of women. And we’re also very young. I’m 25, and I’m one of the older girls. We have a really young group of talented women who I think will continue to make world finals and Olympic finals and hopefully contending for medals against our international competition.”

Track and Field Trials: ResultsDaily Schedule | TV Schedule

Other happenings on Day 6 of Olympic Trials:

200 METERS: World silver medalist Justin Gatlin, World 400m champion LaShawn MerrittTyson Gay, Mike Rodgers and Wallace Spearmon, who is trying to return to the upper-echelon of this race after struggling with injuries, all made it through their first-round heats with ease.

MORE: Merritt eyes Michael Johnson-like double in Rio

SHOT DIVA: Michelle Carter (Twitter handle @shotdiva) already had her Olympic spot wrapped up. Then, she did the same thing as at world indoor championships in the spring: She won the meet on the last throw of the night. Her mark of 64 feet, 3 1/4 inches beat out Raven Saunders and knocked Felisha Saunders into third. Said veteran Jill Camarena-Williams, who finished fifth in what she said would be her last Olympic Trials: “I always wait to see Michelle’s last throw. I would never, ever leave.”

TRIPLE JUMP: Two-time NCAA champion Keturah Orji, who once dreamed of being an Olympic gymnast, will get a chance at another kind of title. She won the women’s triple jump and will head to Rio. On the men’s side, Christian Taylor‘s quest for an Olympic repeat is on track. He needed one jump to make it through qualifying, and will try to secure his spot Saturday.

MORE MEDALS: Among Olympic medal winners who made it through their qualifying rounds Thursday were Leon Manzano (1,500), Bershawn Jackson (400 hurdles) and Dawn Harper-Nelson (100 hurdles). Harper-Nelson, the 2008 gold medalist, was in the same heat with American record holder Keni Harrison, but barely noticed. “I tell my husband, ‘Tell me what lane I’m in and what heat. The rest doesn’t matter,'” Harper-Nelson said.

QUOTABLE: “With (Jamaica’s) rules, hopefully they’ll let him in. If not, it might be the first time the Olympic committee sends a personal invite to an athlete to come to the games. They’d lose some money if he didn’t show up.” — Wallace Spearmon, on the chances of Bolt making the Olympics despite his recent hamstring problems.

MORE: Aries Merritt faces more hurdles in months after kidney transplant

Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement