Olympic trials a big hit for athletes

The top track and field athletes in the country have once again
flocked to Sacramento State to compete in the U.S. Olympic Track
& Field Trials.

The top three finishers in each event at the trials, which run
July 9–18, will complete in August at the Olympics in
Athens.

Sac State is hosting the trials for the second consecutive time.
In 2000, more than 187,000 spectators filed through the gates at
the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex – making it the highest
attended Olympic track and field trials in history.

Lewis Johnson, an analyst for NBC Sports and a semifinalist in
the 800-meters in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic trials, felt is was a
no-brainer for the trials to return to Sacramento.

“I remember being here four years ago when we came for the
2000 trials,” Johnson said. “The picture I remember in
my head was arriving at the stadium in the car and then looking to
the right and seeing that the place was packed.”

Johnson said there are many factors why the athletes enjoy the
trials at Sac State.

“Everything is organized, planned well and you just feel
comfortable being here at Sac State for the Olympic Trials,”
he said. “You want to go to a place where you know
you’ll have a fan base. You have a hotbed of track and field
lovers in Northern California.”

Two time Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers, who set a U.S.
record in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2000 trials, said Sacramento
is always a great place to compete.

“The fans are great, the facility is great and the weather
is great,” the 37-year-old Devers said after finishing fourth
in the 100-meter dash finals. “To be honest, I wasn’t
even sure if I was going to run at the trials, but I was like
‘ok, it’s Sacramento, it’s a great track and
great experience, so I am coming back.”

Sac State had two athletes attempting to make the U.S. team, but
both failed to make it past the qualifying round. Brandon Parker
finished last in the men’s long jump with a jump of 6.85
meters. Karmer Furr finished last in the women’s triple jump,
jumping 38 feet and one-quarter meters.

Despite the low finishes, Sac State Athletic Director Terry
Wanless said it was really exciting to have two athletes compete at
the trials. 

“We sometimes focus only on winning the event, but I think
the ability just to get here is a tremendous accomplishment,”
Wanless said. “I think in both cases there’s a great
sense of satisfaction. It’s certainly a great credit to the
track program at Sac State.”

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