Merely getting to the starting line at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials has proved to be an insurmountable challenge for several athletes with Olympic experience. Others who have hobbled their way to the 10-day event that will determine the U.S. squad for the
The top three in each event will go to Rio, provided they've met the Olympic qualifying standards.
The first round of the women’s 400 on Friday will be the first of many suspenseful moments in the trials. Los Angeles-based
"It's this huge thing you have to get through. A lot of times you do feel like it's this bigger thing than even the Olympic Games," she said of the trials. "A lot of other people from other countries, they don't have that pressure that you have to go through here. It's the hardest team to make and everything has to click on that specific day."
Only two women — Valerie Brisco-Hooks of the U.S. in 1984, and Marie-Jose Perec of France in 1996 — have won the 200 and 400 in the same Games. The only man to have won that golden double is Michael Johnson of the U.S.
Also worth watching Friday in the women’s 400 is the 2012 Olympic champion,
Also out is two-time Olympic hurdler
The absence of some familiar faces could ease the way for some relative newcomers to make an impression during the trials and perhaps beef up the U.S. medal totals at Rio. The 2012 track and field squad won 29 medals, its best showing since a 30-medal haul in 1992. The men won three gold medals among their 15; the women won six gold medals and 14 overall.
Qualifying will start Friday for the women's high jump, with 18-year-old Vashti Cunningham expected to be a top contender. The daughter of former NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, she won the U.S. indoor title with a jump of 6 feet, 6 ¼ inches, a world junior record. She also won the world indoor championship by clearing 6-5. "I'm excited for this to be my first trials and I'm looking forward to competing for America again for something as big as the Olympics," she said at a news conference Thursday.
The 100-meter hurdles could be a showcase for 23-year-old Keni Harrison, who in May ran the second-fastest time ever recorded by a woman, 12.24 seconds. She has the top four times in the world this season. "Of course, I've thought about breaking the world record," Harrison said, referring to the 12.21 by Yordanka Donkova of Bulgaria in 1988. "Each race I just like to execute and just come across the line first. I think the times will come."
The men’s 10,000 on Friday will feature Oregon alumnus and 2012 Olympic silver medalist
It should be clear Friday whether Felix, 30, will be able to pursue her rare double. "Only by the grace of God I will walk to the starting line [Friday]," she said on Instagram. "Undoubtedly, this will be the hardest team I try to make. I refuse to give up on my dreams. I'm a fighter and [Friday] one of my biggest fights begins."