Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Athletics USA Seeks 30 Olympic medals

USA Track and Field officials and US Olympic coaches are confident of achieving their goal of a 30-medal haul from the London Olympics after watching competitors qualify over the past 10 days.

"There's a real opportunity for that," US Olympic men's track coach Andrew Valmon said.

"We have a strong team. If we are clicking on all cylinders anything is possible."

A blend of talented veterans, some hoping for a return to the medal podium, and top newcomers advancing from the US Olympic Track and Field trials staged at Hayward Field give the Americans a chance to improve on 2008 disappointment.

"That is a reachable goal," USA Track and Field chief executive Max Siegel said of 30 US athletics medals.

"I'm confident we will have a good showing in London. The athletes performed well. We have a strong team."

Americans claimed 23 medals from athletics at Beijing with seven golds, nine silvers and seven bronzes.

But the 2008 US men produced only 14 medals, the second-fewest at any Olympics, and only four golds, the fewest of any Olympics.

And most of the disappointments at the trials came on the men's side.

Walter Dix, second in the 100 and 200 metres at last year's worlds and third in the same events at the 2008 Olympics, failed to qualify in either after a leg injury.

Beijing Olympic decathlon winner Bryan Clay, former world shot put champion Adam Nelson and 2004 400m winner Jeremy Wariner also missed London.

So did 2008 Olympic 110 hurdles medallist David Oliver and 400 hurdles medallist Bershawn Jackson.

But some of the trials' stars were on the men's side as well, including world decathlon record-setter Ashton Eaton, 5,000 and 10,000 doubler Galen Rupp and 110 hurdles stars Jason Richardson and Aries Merritt, each under 13 seconds for the first time in their lives.

"Depth is going to be one of the key components for the men's team," Valmon said.

"We have an overall strong team. Some extraordinary athletes are going to be performing this summer in London."

Justin Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic 100m champion who could not defend in 2008 while serving a doping ban, and Tyson Gay, the former world champion coming off a hip injury, will lead the Americans against Jamaican stars Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell in the 100.

US Olympic women's track and field coach Amy Deem sees her charges spreading US podium threats to non-traditional events.

"We're going to have some areas we are going to medal in that we don't usually medal in and I think that's what makes this team special," she said.

"I'm excited. We have a very strong team in a lot of events going into London."
AFP 2012