THE LATEST in the aches, pains & eligibility departments, most of which had a notable effect on the Olympic Trials domestically and Tokyo representation on the international front. First, the domestic developments:
An 8th in the OT 800 final by favored Donavan Brazier led to speculation about a foot injury which he would not confirm in his press conference. Several days later, however, training partner Craig Engels posted an Instagram photo showing Brazier on crutches with his left foot in a boot.
The toasty weather caused heptathlete Taliyah Brooks to collapse and be hospitalized on the second day. Though she wasn’t medically cleared to reenter that battle, she was back to competition 9 days later.
Former 400H world champ Kori Carter cited a “chronic injury” for her not competing in Eugene.
Michelle Carter withdrew from the shot after revealing that she had recently had a benign tumor removed from her ankle. “I’m doing pretty good,” said the reigning Olympic champion. “Just taking one day at a time.”
Florida State hurdler Trey Cunningham was conspicuously absent from the NCAA meets, not running in his Regional.
After his surprise 4th in the Trials he explained, “Actually got injured 20 minutes to gun at the NCAAs… got my medical team together and we made a plan to get me ready for this meet and it looks like it worked out.”
Last season’s find on the roads, Keira D’Amato, said she skipped the Trials because of fitness concerns, explaining, “The fall of 2020, I was able to push those limits and accomplish some incredible personal feats. Unfortunately, this spring season was on the other side of that equation.”
Rio Olympian English Gardner revealed that she fought through a lengthy bout with C19 this year.
Justin Gatlin tweaked a hamstring in the 100 semis at the Trials, and could only finish 8th in the final. “It was a call whether I was going to run,” the 39-year-old said. “I was absolutely going to run no matter what.”
Hammer thrower Daniel Haugh made a nice comeback and is Tokyo-bound after missing March with a stress reaction.
Candace Hill made the 100 final but withdrew from the 200, saying that she injured her hamstring in the 100 semis.
400 hurdler TJ Holmes finished last in his heat after a hamstring popped mid-race.
Although USATF briefly cleared Shelby Houlihan to run in the OT, the USOPC quickly said no (see Last Lap).
Saying he has “the foot of an 80-year-old pirate,” Drew Hunter cited a torn plantar fascia as the reason he has not raced this year and bypassed the year’s biggest meet.
Sage Hurta, who recently signed with On, fell hard in her 800 semi and broke her wrist. “Not the day I expected,” said Colorado’s NCAA 1500 runner-up.
New Mexico distance star Weini Kelati had her U.S. citizenship come through just in time for to race in the 10,000, however the former Eritrean ended up DNFing.
No Olympic repeat for 10K star Shadrack Kipchirchir, forced to skip the Trials because of a calf injury.
After hurting his right hamstring in an early-June 100 race, long jumper Jarrion Lawson struggled at the Trials. Said coach Travis Geopfert, “We thought we had it under control and things were looking good. But he went out for the qualifying round and he hurt his hamstring again.”
Cleared to run in the OT while pending a suspension, Brianna McNeal took 2nd in the 100H but subsequently had her appeal to CAS rejected. She’s now on the hook for a 5-year penalty (see Last Lap).
Dalilah Muhammad says that not only did she have C19 earlier in ’21, she also hurt both hamstrings.
Clayton Murphy says he had serious hamstring issues the week before his big 800 win.
Steepler Colleen Quigley withdrew, citing “various injuries” she had been dealing with.
Jessica Ramsey, the shot winner, said, “I have bad fluid in my knee that I need to get together before Tokyo.”
As noted in a major feature elsewhere in this issue, OT 100 winner Sha’Carri Richardson had her Eugene win voided by a positive cannabis test.
Marathon Olympian Molly Seidel skipped the Trials 10,000, explaining, “Why? Cause I’m not actually that great at track 10Ks, and frankly, I don’t enjoy running them all that much.”
Kenny Selmon overcame injury problems to finish 2nd in the 400H. “I tweaked my hamstring twice,” he revealed. “That was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through.”
In her first meet since tearing a hamstring at the adidas Boost meet, Rio bronze medalist Ashley Spencer finished 7th in the 400H.
Kellyn Taylor did not make the 5000 final and revealed she lost 7 weeks of training this year to a “badly-timed stress fracture.”
She made her third Olympic javelin team, but Kara Winger said she was only throwing at 90–95% in Eugene due to knee problems.
A New Group Of Pros…
NCAA long jump champ Tara Davis is done at Texas, having signed a contract with Champion.
In a major development, HS senior Hobbs Kessler turned pro, signing with adidas prior to competing at the Trials.
NCAA 100 champ Terrance Laird signed with adidas, forgoing his remaining collegiate eligibility at LSU.
Agent Renaldo Nehemiah announced that another LSU star, hurdler Tonea Marshall, has also gone pro.
After an amazing frosh season at Texas A&M, it was no surprise when 400/800 standout Athing Mu joined the run-for-bucks brigade, signing with Nike.
Sprinter Cambrea Sturgis is bypassing her remaining eligibility at North Carolina A&T, having hooked up with adidas.
Mississippi miler Waleed Suliman inked a deal with the Brooks Beasts and is skipping his final year of eligibility.
On The International Front
Reigning world 200 champ Dina Asher-Smith pulled out of the Gateshead DL out of worry for a tight hamstring.
Selina Büchel, a 2-time Euro Indoor 800 champ for Switzerland, is not competing this season because of C19 complications.
Burgeoning 800 star Max Burgin had to sit out the British Trials because of a hamstring pull. In his only race this year he ran 1:44.14 the day before his 19th birthday.
Veronica Campbell-Brown retired just before the Jamaican Trials. The 2-time Olympic 200 winner, 39, said, “this girl from Clarks Town walks away happy and contented with a race well run.”
Anna Chicherova, the initial winner of the ’08 Olympic high jump gold, only to lose it years later after retesting of her doping samples, has retired at age 38. “I don’t have any more strength,” the Russian said.
Cuban TJer Jordan Díaz, the ’18 World Junior champion, has reportedly defected to Spain.
Newspaper reports that British halfmiler Oliver Dustin had tested positive for cocaine were apparently false.
Injury has knocked Polish 1500 runner Sofia Ennaoui out of the Olympics.
Florida’s NCAA 200 champ Joe Fahnbulleh has dual citizenship and has opted to represent Liberia at the Olympics.
British 1500 runner Neil Gourley, who made the World final in ’19, caught C19 in the spring. After recovering, he rushed to get back in shape and tore a calf muscle, causing him to miss the Trials.
Italian long jumper Larissa Iapichino suffered a serious injury to her right foot and is out of the Tokyo picture.
Latvian heptathlete Laura Ikauniece will miss the Games after 3 operations in the last 2 years.
Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen has had hamstring surgery and will not compete in Tokyo.
Heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson missed the British Trials with an Achilles injury. At the Gateshead DL, she said she was 100% fit: “I’ve made big strides.”
Kuwait’s Youssef Karam, the ’19 Asian Games 400 winner at 44.84, has been provisionally suspended by the AIU.
Renaud Lavillenie has been nursing a pre-Olympic owie, tweeting, “Clearly not the ideal scenario for my last competition before the Olympics. Injured at left ankle following a poor landing on the mat. I leave the clinic with an “encouraging” verdict: no fracture, a big sprain.”
Another French star, hurdler Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, is still reportedly struggling with a thigh injury.
Reigning Olympic champ Omar McLeod ran into cramping problems in the Jamaican Trials 110H. He blamed that on his hitting hurdles and finishing last in the final.
Namibian teen 400 sensations Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi have fallen afoul of WA’s testosterone-limit rules and are no longer eligible for their favored event (see Last Lap).
Steepler Mahiedine Mekhissi dropped out of his final attempt to get a Games qualifier because of an ongoing Achilles injury.
Former USC shot putter Nick Ponzio became eligible to represent Italy as of the end of June.
Alex Quiñónez, Ecuador’s WC 200 bronze medalist, has been provisionally suspended for whereabouts violations.
Germany’s Alina Reh, the Euro 10K bronze medalist, will miss Tokyo with a knee injury.
Thomas Röhler will not defend his Olympic javelin title. “I need to listen to my body now because I want to keep doing my sport for another couple of years at the top level,” he says. “By taking part in the Olympic Games I would be risking too much because of this back injury.”
Russia regained a major star when hurdler Sergey Shubenkov was cleared of doping charges after the AIU ruled that he bore no fault for a diuretic found in his sample.
Polish sprinter Ewa Swoboda had to cancel her Tokyo plans because of injury.
Still struggling to get back to top shape, Wayde van Niekerk pulled out of the Gyulai Memorial because of lower back pain.
As of May 18, teen vault star Matvey Volkov is eligible to compete for Belarus; WA approved his switch from Russia.
Distance runner Laura Weightman had to skip the British Trials because of a hamstring injury.
7 years — Simon Magakwe (South Africa, sprints);
6 years — Danil Lysenko (Russia, HJ);
5 years — Brianna McNeal (U.S., hurdles);
4 years — Luvo Manyonga (South Africa, LJ);
2 years — Salwa Eid Naser (Bahrain, 400);
1 month — Sha’Carri Richardson (U.S., sprints). □