The U.S. track and field Olympic Trials wrapped up a few hours ago on an absolutely perfect day in Eugene. Highlights: a new American record in the women's pole vault after Jenn Stuczynski gave the vaulting world a good scare by missing her first two attempts at her opening height, then finally clearing that height and the new record of 16 feet, 1-3/4 inches...the absolutely correct team making it in the men's 110-meter hurdles (the only thing better would have been a healthy Allen Johnson but the team of David Oliver, Terrence Trammell and David Payne will compete hard in Beijing and could easily be good for two medals if all goes their way)...a solid women's 200 meters that solidified just why Allyson Felix is such a stunning athlete in this event...a men's 1500-meter run that locked in Bernard Lagat as both the athlete and the personality to watch at the Beijing Olympics for U.S. track and field. And good news out of Tyson Gay's camp: that scary, scary fall in the 200-meter quarterfinals yesterday may have looked a lot worse than it was - Gay says he's got two weeks of rest ahead of him and that he'll be at full strength for Beijing. Still, without the 200 meters to look forward to in addition to the 100 and 4x100-meter relay, SI's Tim Layden writes that Gay lost out on a shot at Olympics immortality when he came up lame in the 200. Walter Dix, Shawn Crawford and Wallace Spearmon took the 200 berths in Gay's absence in the final today. Whew. And all that in just under five hours of competition.
The take-home lesson was that this was an Olympic Trials for the ages, and Eugene and the University of Oregon came through with flying colors as the host venue. The U.S. team that is headed first to their Chinese training base of Dalian, and then to Beijing for the big 'un, is solid. The sport is super-healthy in the States, something that might not have been completely expected after the last bits of BALCO drama came our way with Trevor Graham's trial and conviction this spring. The ghost of Marion Jones was nowhere to be found in Eugene this week. This was a solid step forward towards the future, one that so many who live and breathe track and field passionately believe should be drug-free. On to Beijing.