These Are Trials Worth Our Time

I’ve honestly had my fill of trials of late, both the ones involving juries and the ones involving me.  If I never see a man in a robe again, I’d be down with that.

But when it comes to Olympic trials, I’m even more down.  I have just enough American pride to be invested in these sports that I otherwise don’t pay attention to other than in Olympic years.  And this year, for a change, the fact that these games will be in Paris means way more live events, heats in real time available during waking hours, and with actual fans back in the stands some legitimate excitement ahead.

And for the past couple of weeks, the likes of Indianapolis, Minneapolis and, of course, Track Town U.S.A., a.k.a. Eugene, Oregon, are playing hosts to the competitions that will determines who gets to wear the red white and blue in the land of rouge blanc y bleu later this summer.  And while actual ratings for these events on NBC aren’t in the league of the actual games, or even AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, there’s ample enough reason to begin to get excited.

There are some familiar names whose stories have been resurrected as the quadrennial event approaches, including one that was denied the chance to compete in 2021 due to some oblique and questionable drug testing.  As USA TODAY’s Tyler Dragon and Lindsay Schnell reported earlier this week:

(Sha’Carri) Richardson ran a season-best 10.71 to win the 100. Richardson went undefeated through the rounds. In the final, her acceleration and finish propelled her past the other sprinters as she crossed the finish line about a meter ahead of everyone else.

Richardson’s coach Dennis Mitchell also deserves a shoutout. Mitchell coaches Richardson, Melissa Jefferson and Twanisha Terry. The three women swept the 100, taking first, second and third to earn a trip to Paris.

Richardson is going to Paris as an early favorite for the fastest woman in the world crown. It’s been almost 30 years since an American woman has won an Olympic gold medal in the 100. Gail Devers is the last American woman to top the Olympic podium in the 100. She did it in 1996.

And her male counterpart is poised for even greater glory:

There’s not a sprinter having more fun than (Noah) Lyles right now. Lyles and his family had a chance to hangout with Snoop Dogg prior to the 100 final, and then the sprinter proceeded to run a blistering 9.83 to win the 100. His time tied a personal best.

The 100 isn’t even Lyles’ strongest event. The 200 is Lyles’ best event.

And sure enough, yesterday Lyles thrilled the Oregon throng still more, as the USA-T duo plus colleague Alicia DelGallo reported:

Lyles found himself in unfamiliar territory when he came around the turn in the men’s 200. He was in second and chasing Kenny Bednarek. But Lyles, who is known for his acceleration and closing speed, had another gear and sped by Bednarek and finished first with a meet record and world-leading time of 19.53.

Meanwhile, THE SPORTING NEWS’ Jacob Camenker updated us on another impressive comeback story taking place in Minneapolis:

The top gymnasts in the United States have fought hard to be among the select few to represent Team USA at the 2024 Olympics. 

On the women’s side, Simone Biles is locked into a roster spot and will likely be the automatic qualifier. Behind her, potential Olympic newcomer Shilese Jones is looking to move ahead of returning Olympians Suni Lee, Jade Carey and Jordan Chiles in a tightly contested battle for the five roster spots.

The men’s side is a bit more open, as Brody Malone is leading the pack, with gymnasts including Khoi Young, Shane Wiskus and Yul Moldauer jockeying for positioning among the top all-around contenders. Add in specialists such as Stephen Nedoroscik and Donnell Whittenburg, and the race for the five spots could come down to a few decimal points when calculating optimal scores.

And earlier this month, some more familiar names thrilled folks visiting a familiar Indianapolis venue cheering on athletes wearing a whole lot less than those who traditionally compete there, per Maggie Hendricks of OLYMPICS.COM:

Held for the first time at an American football stadium, the U.S. Olympic Trials for swimming were staged from 15-23 June at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Multiple Olympic champions Katie LedeckyCaeleb Dressel and Bobby Finke were among those securing spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

We don’t necessarily pay as much attention to these stars as we should; we certainly don’t celebrate individual performers as much as the laundry beyond these few weeks where they get a chance to remind us how spectacular they are.  And when someone unexpected breaks through, especially on the international stage, they become heroes, which we certainly can use a lot more of lately.

So I’m all in once more.  Toi aussi?



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