In the world of track and field, there tends to be more emphasis on running events than jumping and throwing events. Perhaps it is because these events are longer, making it difficult for viewers to watch all the way through. Regardless, jumping and throwing events are just as entertaining as running events.
The U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials will be a stage for the best athletes in the nation as they run, jump, and throw their way to the Rio Olympics. Here are some of those athletes you should watch for:
Vashti Cunningham – High Jump
Although she is only 18, Cunningham is the No.1 ranked high jumper in the nation with a qualifying mark of 6 feet, 6 ¼ inches. The mark was a World Junior record, which she reached while winning this year’s USA Indoor Track and Field Championships. She continued on to win the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Chaunté Lowe – High Jump
Lowe has been successful in the high jump for much longer than Cunningham has. She holds the American record for both indoors (6-7½) and outdoors (6-8¾). She participated in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics, reaching the finals in the latter years. She came in sixth place both times. She is also a seven-time USATF Outdoor champion.
Erik Kynard, Jr. – High Jump
As a 21-year-old, during his Olympic debut, Kynard, Jr. won the silver medal with a jump of 7-7¾. This was his first international medal. In both 2014 and 2015, he won the United States Outdoor National Championships, tying the meet record at 7-9 ¼.
Jesse Williams – High Jump
Williams, of the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite, was the 2011 World Champion, the first American to win the world title in 20 years. Prior to that, he won the U.S. Track & Field Championships with a jump that was a Championship record, a record for Hayward Field and the highest jump in the world at an outdoor meet that year.
Jennifer Suhr – Pole Vault
Suhr is the current Olympic and World champion and has been ranked no.1 nationally for the past two years. Before that, she won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics. She has won 15 National Championships. Suhr holds the world indoor record at 16-6 and both the national indoor and outdoor record (16-2).
Brittany Reese – Long Jump
In 2012, Reese won the gold medal at the London Olympics. Earlier that year, she won the IAAF World Indoor Championships for the second time, becoming the first women to win back to back titles. During the competition, she set an American record of 23-8¾. The mark was the longest indoors since 1989 and third on the all-time list.
Marquise Goodwin – Long Jump
Goodwin is a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, but also competes in the long jump, among other track and field events. In 2012, he qualified for the Olympic team with a mark of 27-4, a distance that would have won the gold medal at the Olympics prior.
Christian Taylor – Triple Jump
Taylor is the reigning Olympic champion and defending World Champion in the triple jump. His personal record of 59-8 3⁄4 is ranked second on the all-time list. He won the World Championships in 2011 and 2015. During the 2011 World Championships, he stunned the field with a jump that ended up being the tenth best jump in history.
Will Claye – Triple Jump
Taylor’s former University of Florida teammate, Claye, won the silver medal during the 2012 London Olympics. Earlier that year, he was the gold medalist at the World Indoor Championships.
Michelle Carter – Shot Put
Carter is the current American record holder with a distance of 66-4 ¾, set at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She was the national champion in 2009, 2011, and 2014.
Joe Kovacs – Shot Put
At this year’s Prefontaine Classic, Kovacs set this year’s world leading distance at 72-7¼. He also had the top throw in the world for 2014 at 72-3.5. He is ranked No. 1 in the nation this year.
Ryan Crouser – Shot Put
Ranked at No. 4 in the nation entering the trials, Crouser had the second best throw in the world this year at 71-8¼. He is the record holder for both the indoor and the outdoor at the University of Texas. During his tenure as Longhorn, he tied the collegiate indoor record that was set in 2008 by Ryan Whiting.
Sam Mattis – Discus
His personal record of 221-3 is the American collegiate record and the second best mark in collegiate history. He won the 2015 NCAA National Championships, after being the runner up the year before. From 2013-2016, Mattis was the winner of the Ivy League Outdoor Championships.
Kibwe Johnson – Hammer
At the 2012 London Olympics, Johnson made it to the final in the shot put, which no American athlete had done since 1996. He is a three time Pan American Games medalist. In 2007, Johnson took the silver medal. In 2011 and 2015, he took the gold medal, while breaking the Pan American Games record in 2011.
Conor McCullough – Hammer
McCullough won the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He was also the runner up in the 2015 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships. At the World Championships of that year, he was the top American, but finished 13th.
Kara Winger – Javelin
Winger is the American record holder with a mark of 218-8. She achieved this by winning the 2010 U.S. Track and Field Championships. During the past two Olympic Trials, Winger made the team but never advanced to the Olympic finals.
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