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Hammer is given the spotlight at Olympic trials

July 07,2016 17:19

The hammer throw isn't a glamorous event and rarely gets much publicity, but it got its day in the sun Wednesday when the U.S. Olympic trials hammer competition was contested in Hayward Field for the first time. The event usually is held at a separate ...and more »



The hammer throw isn’t a glamorous event and rarely gets much publicity, but it got its day in the sun Wednesday when the U.S. Olympic trials hammer competition was contested in Hayward Field for the first time.The event usually is held at a separate venue to spare other competitors the hazard of being hit. But it was the only scheduled event Wednesday, eliminating safety concerns and giving participants a treat.
“I’m in the infield in Hayward. That’s magic,” said Amber Campbell, who set a women’s trials record with a throw of 74.03 meters (242 feet, 10 inches).Campbell, a volunteer coach at Coastal Carolina University, earned her third Olympic berth. “I competed in my first U.S. championships at the senior level in 2001 and I’m still here. That’s kind of awesome and I’m really proud of it,” she said.

Gwen Berry, recently back from a three-month suspension for taking a prohibited medication, finished second at 73.09 (239-9). Deanna Price was third, at the same distance as Berry. Both are first-time Olympians.
The men’s event was won by Rudy Winkler of Cornell, but his throw of 76.76 meters (251-10) was short of the Olympic “A” standard of 77 meters (252-7) and he didn’t previously reach that mark. Because only 23 throwers in the world have met the standard and the Olympic field can be as large as 32, he and others might be invited to compete in Rio de Janeiro. “Hopefully, I’ll get an invitation,” he said. “Winning is surreal, but it hasn’t really sunk in that I might not go. I’m not too concerned with that because I’m going to keep competing. I’ll be around for a while.”Kibwe Johnson was second at 75.11 (246-5) and Conor McCullough third at 74.16 (243-4).New look for U.S. team
Through six days of competition, 37 of the 53 U.S. track and field athletes who have qualified for Rio are first-time Olympians. That excludes the still-uncertain men’s hammer event.“It’s a changing of the guard,” said U.S. women’s shotput record-holder Michelle Carter, who Thursday will vie for her third Olympic berth at age 30. “To me, since I’ve been the sport for so long, a lot of my friends are retiring. Sometimes they joke around and call me Mama Michelle.“It’s sad because you want the people that were there with you when you started to be there, but you understand that’s the cycle and I’m not going to be there forever, either. But to see the young kids coming in and doing so well, it’s awesome because you also want to see new talent and you want to see America stay on top.”But triple jumper Christian Taylor, the reigning Olympic and world champion, isn’t ready to for that change to come.“I hope not,” said Taylor, who will compete in qualifying Thursday. “I’m happy for the newcomers, but I want to be among the returning athletes…It’s going to be exciting to have our team meetings at the beginning and do the introductions and you see all these new faces. That’s what it’s about. You want to get fresh faces in and send the strongest team.”helene.elliott@latimes.comTwitter: @helenenothelen

Amber Campbell,hammer throw,Olympics,Rio 2016,sports

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