LAST LAP — April

HERE’S THIS MONTH’S collection of short takes on generally off-track activities that have gone/will go a long way towards shaping the way the sport is headed.

Eight years on from his Olympic gold run in Rio, Matthew Centrowitz says he’ll hang up his spikes at season’s end. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

In a novel development, the Paris Olympics may be coming to a nearby big screen. NBC has announced a deal with AMC Theaters to show live daytime coverage of the Games at approximately 160 theaters nationwide. The broadcasts will run from July 27 through August 11, but will not include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Tickets will be available through AMC and Fandango.

This is the latest wrinkle in what looks to be a record year for NBC, which through its Peacock service promises to show every event, for more than 5000 hours of live broadcasts. A trailer for the Olympic coverage has already begun to appear in theaters.

Said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, “The Olympic Games always provide a wonderful, shared experience, and this summer communities across the country will have the opportunity to cheer for Team USA or their own hometown hero in local AMC Theatres.

“The afternoon broadcasts on NBC will offer many of the most compelling live moments from Paris, and we believe these gatherings will fuel overall enthusiasm for the Games.”

And in a new twist to Peacock’s streaming coverage, there will be an option where fans can choose which sports end up in their feed.

I Don’t Think We’re In Kansas Anymore

Where else but Oklahoma would discus throwers look for a friendly wind to come sweeping down the plains? So it’s no surprise that some of the world’s best throwers are coming to the eastern Oklahoma town of Ramona on April 12–14 for the Oklahoma Throws Series World Invitational.

The Throw Town facility there — built in what has been described as “the windiest place in the United States in April” — has three rings, each aimed in a different direction to take advantage of the prevailing winds. Facility manager Caleb Seal thinks it’s worth a 5-meter bump for a world-class thrower.

With $30,000 in prize money on the line, the event is bringing in World Rankers such as Cal’s Mykolas Alekna and Alex Rose, who threw 231-0 (70.42) there last year. The women’s competition will feature world champ Lagi Tausaga and Olympic gold medalist Valarie Allman, along with World Ranker Yaimé Pérez. The event will feature solid fields in the other throws as well.


The Collegiate Hall Of Fame, sponsored by the USTFCCCA continues to grow in its third year. This year’s class of 14 is evenly split between men and women.

Said USTFCCCA president Caryl Smith Gilbert in announcing the class, “Their stories and achievements continue to inspire generations of athletes, and we are honored to recognize their contributions to the sport.”

Men: Hollis Conway (Louisiana–Lafayette), Bill Dellinger (Oregon), Glenn Hardin (LSU), Balázs Kiss (USC), Marty Liquori (Villanova), Larry Myricks (Mississippi College), Karl Salb (Kansas)

Women: Rosalyn Bryant (Cal State LA), Regina Cavanaugh (Rice), Benita Fitzgerald (Tennessee), Louise Ritter (Texas Women’s), Amy Skieresz (Arizona), Trecia Smith (Pitt), Angela Williams (USC).

Eligibility for induction is limited to men who completed their collegiate careers before ’00 and women prior to ’10. The induction ceremony, open to the public, will take place in Eugene at Oregon’s Hult Center on June 02, just 3 days before the start of the NCAA Championships.

Bach Toughening Russian Stance

For a while, it had seemed that IOC head Thomas Bach was doing everything he could to get the Russians and their Belarusian allies into this summer’s Olympics.

In March, that situation reversed itself and a war of words erupted. First, the IOC barred Russians from the opening ceremonies, and criticized Russian plans to hold their own “Friendship Games” after the Olympics.

The Russian foreign ministry retaliated by saying “the IOC has moved away from its stated principles and slipped into racism and neo-Nazism.”

IOC spokesman Mark Adams responded, “We’ve seen some very aggressive statements coming out of Russia today… we’ve even seen one that links [Bach], his nationality and the Holocaust, and that’s completely unacceptable and reaches a new low.”

Bach repeated that Russian athletes will be allowed provided they have not publicly supported their country’s invasion of Ukraine. He noted that a commission is being set up to monitor the public statements of potential Russian entries.

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee said all Russians who are allowed in Paris will compete. “We will never go down the path of boycotting. We will always support our athletes, but we stress that the conditions set by the IOC are illegitimate, unfair and unacceptable.”

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, threw in her 2 cents, saying in a visit to Ukraine that Russian and Belarusian athletes “are not welcome in Paris.”

Prank callers based in Russia have gone on the attack, getting through to WADA president Witold Bańka and also to Bach. They then released a recording of Bach speaking on various controversial issues.

Russia has announced the Friendship Games will be offering cash prizes. Winners will get $40,000, with $25,000 and $17,000 for the other medalists.

A Stiff Penalty For Running

Competing in the New Balance Indoor Nationals has cost Mississippi prep Andrew Brown his season. The 9th-grader from Tupelo High clocked 4:24.76 in the mile and returned to find out that his state federation had ruled him ineligible for the rest of the season.

His crime? Competing unattached. He did so, apparently, because another association rule makes it illegal to compete indoors once the outdoor season has begun. Last year he ran at the adidas Indoor Nationals with no penalty.

The MHSAA says Brown is the first runner ever to have been suspended on this basis. “It just causes us a lot of grief when it’s reported, but once it’s reported we have to act on it,” said director Rickey Neaves.

Brown’s parents are appealing. “This is literally why Mississippi is 50th in everything,” said the father.

Brisbane Still A Go For ’32?

On the heels of Victoria and then Gold Coast withdrawing from hosting the ’26 Commonwealth Games come reports that third Aussie site Brisbane had second thoughts about hosting the ’32 Olympics and was exploring exit strategies.

A government spokesman says those reports were false. “We have always said Queensland would host great Games; we never had any intention of canceling them.”

Said IOC head Thomas Bach, “Obviously it was some kind of fake news.”

Not that the Australians don’t have concerns about the immense cost of hosting the Games. Plans to spend $2 billion to rebuild a stadium have been dropped in favor of renovating an existing facility to host the Ceremonies.

Centro Plans For Wrapping His Career

This year is it for Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz, who says he will hang up his spikes at the end of the season. Now 34, the Oregon alum made history at the Rio Olympics in being the first American to win the 1500 in 108 years.

He told Flotrack, “Mentally where I’m at with it, like this is it for me. Like this is my last year. This is it, so, of course, I wouldn’t be here racing and continuing to do it if I didn’t think I would give myself a shot come end of June to make that Olympic team. I just want to finish up on a high note and ride off into the sunset with a smile on my face.”

A 10-time U.S. ranker in the 1500, with 6 No. 1s, Centrowitz has struggled over the past few years because of injury and knee surgery. His PR of 3:30.40 came in ’15. This season, he has run 3:38.88 so far.

East German Medals Under Threat?

We’ve known for decades that the East Germans (and others) fueled their sports dominance with a government-sponsored doping program. Yet the IOC policy regarding those Olympic medals (109 in track & field alone) has always been to leave the past in the past.

Now there are hints that the policy may be changing. In a forward to a recent book on Australian swimmer Michelle Ford, IOC head Thomas Bach praised her “fight to right the wrongs of the era.”

Since then, IOC vice president John Coates has said that while the IOC has no plans to reassign medals from that era, it will not stop federations from assigning their own “shadow medals” to athletes who lost to East Germans.

Making that problematic, according to Coates, is that all of the signatories to WADA have endorsed that organization’s 10-year statute of limitations on doping offenses. He added that the reassigning of medals may open up the federations to lawsuits from former East German athletes.

“If swimming suddenly went out and gave everyone a second medal, then the ones who had the first medal might say, ‘Look, I was good, show me otherwise. That’s an insult to me and you’ve damaged my reputation.’”

Prize Money For NCAA Athletes

A North Carolina tennis player has filed a class-action suit against the NCAA in federal court over its prohibition on athletes earning prize money in professional events.

In her lawsuit Reese Brantmeier calls the restriction “farcical” when compared to the amounts that some athletes are making through NIL (Name-Image-Likeness) deals.

“While these tens of millions of dollars have been paid to student-athletes under the guise of acquiring rights to utilize their NIL, the vast majority of the money is in reality ‘pay-for-play’ compensation to student-athletes that has little or no relation to the actual market value for the supposed NIL services,” the suit reads.

The suit also notes that with millions being paid through NIL to athletes in revenue sports, athletes in non-revenue sports are being told that the acceptance of prize money would undermine the NCAA concept of amateurism. It asks that the court agree that the rules against prize money are illegal and unenforceable.

Currently, collegiate tracksters are prevented from accepting any WA or Diamond League prize money if they want to remain eligible. ◻︎

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