Proud aunts

I’ve written before about the pride we aunts take in our nieces and nephews, and the 10 days I spent in Oregon at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials brought out a number of proud aunts to cheer on their family’s elite athletes. Today, I’ll share three “good aunt” stories with you from the competition.

Proud aunts follow through on a father’s inspiration
Early into the trials, I saw an article in the The Register-Guard talking about Amanda Smock, an expert in the women’s triple jump. She competed in the 2008 trials, but finished 5th and didn’t get to go to the Olympics that year.

After those trials, her father encouraged her to keep pursuing her dream, though he didn’t live to see her succeed. He died from cancer a year later, but four of Smock’s aunts (her father’s sisters) made the long drive from Minnesota to the trials to surprise her and cheer her on.

Smock finished first in the trials, and because of qualifying requirements to compete in the Olympics, she’ll be the only athlete to represent the United States in her event. Of winning and what it meant to have her four aunts watching from the stands, she said: Continue reading

You’ll see these faces again

Happy 4th of July!

What better way to celebrate than with some photos of our 2012 US Track & Field Olympians? The trials were amazing this year: Ashton Eaton earned a world record in the Decathlon, Julia Lucas broke our hearts with a 4th place finish in the women’s 5000 meters, and Jeneba Tarmoh and Allyson Felix made history of their own with a tie (to the thousandth of a second) in the Women’s 100 meter final. And their story put track & field in the news for longer than it might otherwise have been.

For ten days, we cheered and cried and gasped and applauded and put ponchos on and took them back off as we watched spellbound to see who would represent the United States in this year’s Olympic games. Here are just some of the faces you’ll see again in London.

The women’s 5000 meter final, early in the race

The winners in the women’s steeplechase: Shalaya Kipp (l), Bridget Franek and Emma Coburn. As the stadium announcer said of the incessant rain, “Every hurdle is a water jump today.”

The men’s 200 meter winners. Wallace Spearmon (center) will have a chance at redemption in this year’s Olympics. In the ’08 Olympics, he had begun a victory lap thinking he had medaled, only to have officials disqualify him for stepping over the lane line.

In her final jump, Brittney Reese had to protest the judge’s initial call that she had fouled. The jump was declared legal, and it gave her the win.

Leo Manzano and Andrew Wheating celebrate making the men’s 1500 team. Both are Olympic team repeats.

From left to right, Shannon Rowbury, Morgan Uceny and Jenny Simpson take a victory lap to celebrate making the women’s 1500 team.

Several US Olympians show off the uniforms they’ll be sporting in the games.

We celebrate our independence from England today, but our best athletes are on the bus headed to London, where they hope to take over and bring home the gold.

Our flag flies over Hayward Field. Happy 4th of July!

How are you celebrating the 4th? And which athletes do you most hope will bring home a medal from London?

Spectator sports

Title IX turned the big 4-0 this past Saturday, and last week, one of my favorite NPR commentators Frank Deford reflected on what Title IX has done for women in sports but also on what it has yet to accomplish: turning women into fans of women’s sports. His commentary is well-worth a listen.

I wanted to get in a huff and tell him he was wrong about women not watching women’s sports (confession time: I talk back to the radio … a lot). But then I thought about the sports I grew up loving: men’s college basketball and college football. Oh, and this thing that happens every four years called the Olympic Games.

Women’s Steeplechase at the 2008 US Olympic Track & Field Trials

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