World champion high-jumper Jesse Williams made it onto the US Olympic team despite finishing in fourth place in the US Olympic trials on Monday.
Only the top three were to earn spots to the Olympics, but the man who finished third — Nick Ross — had not made an Olympic “A” standard, unlike Williams, so the world champion made it in via the backdoor.
Jamie Nieto won and Erik Kynard took second in rainy conditions to book their places for London.
It was not the way Williams wanted to make the squad. He vowed to train more in the rain, especially because this just might be the type of weather he encounters in London.
“Not the prettiest way, but I did it,” Williams said. “These conditions, they were tough. It was difficult for me to get in a groove and jump to my capabilities. The whole goal was to make London and now I’m there and I want to get on top of the podium. This is not deterring my goal.”
While Williams needed a reprieve, 800m runner Nick Symmonds finished in style. He won his fifth straight US title by easily holding off 35-year-old Khadevis Robinson and Duane Solomon.
For Symmonds, there was nothing wrong with a little drizzle. He is used to this type of inclement weather at his base in the Pacific Northwest. He started far back in the pack, but surged into the lead in the final 100m for the victory.
“This crowd just doesn’t want to see me make the team,” Symmonds said. “They want to see me win. That makes me run with a little more aggression.”
Alysia Montano earned her ticket to London in the women’s 800m, along with Geena Gall and Alice Schmidt.
In the javelin final, Sam Humphreys earned a win, but not a spot on the team. His best throw failed to meet the required “A” standard. Same with runner-up Sam Crouser.
So that means Craig Kinsley, Sean Furey and Cyrus Hostetler will represent the team — the third, fourth and fifth-place finishers.
However, at least that event has three qualifiers going. The women’s triple jump will only send Amanda Smock to the Olympics, since none of the others met the standard.
The trials are now taking a two-day break, with the third-place tie between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh in the women’s 100m still hanging over the competition.
Tarmoh was originally declared the third-place finisher in Saturday’s race and the official scoring said she had edged training partner Felix by 0.0001 seconds. The results were reviewed, and after a lengthy delay, the dead heat was announced.
This has touched off a wave of controversy, especially since the national governing body had no protocol in place at the time to decide such situations.
However, any publicity, good or bad, is just that — publicity.
“I’ve seen this on everything from CNN to the Today show,” said Max Siegel, the recently hired CEO for USA Track and Field (USATF). “We’ve got to capitalize on the attention they’re giving us.”
USATF president Stephanie Hightower also has seen this situation explode.
“I’m getting text and voice mails from all over the world,” she said. “They are stay-at-home moms to retired folks to business leaders in my community, texting me, saying: ‘They’ve got to do a runoff, not the coin toss.’ It’s becoming a media topic that I think is good for the sport.”
Bobby Kersee, who coaches both sprinters, said Tarmoh and Felix would not decide anything until after they run the 200m, with the final scheduled for Saturday.