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Disappointing TV coverage, but U.S. men amaze in track distances Trent Warren | Fri, Aug 10 2012 04:25 PM

As a track and field fanatic, I have found NBC-TV’s Olympic coverage a bit disappointing. Between commercial breaks in the middle of races, spoiler results on the Internet and limited field event coverage, all this has made me feel a little bitter.

Maybe I am too much of a track nut.

While I do find the other Olympic sports interesting, when one hears the word “Olympics,” the first sport that comes to mind is track and field. With that said, NBC should try to incorporate a channel that is dedicated to strictly track and field as the network does for other sports such as soccer, boxing and tennis.

Show it live and then replay highlights in prime time for ratings.

Instant replay
To be honest, there haven’t been too many highlights from the U.S. men’s track and field team. Reese Hoffa was the lone American on the shot put podium despite all three of the American qualifiers ranking with the top three marks in the world this year.

The 400-meter hurdles race also did not go as planned. Dominican Felix Sanchez (University City High School alum) won gold, and unexpectedly, the only American to strike a medal was Michael Tinsley. Sanchez turns 35 later this month.

The most shocking outcome, however, was the 400 meters. There were no U.S. medalists in this historically strong American event. U.S. athletes had won seven consecutive gold medals and had produced at least one medalist since 1920.

LaShawn Merritt pulled out due to a hamstring injury while Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum both failed to make the final. The star of the show was Grenada’s Kirani James, who became the first non-American to break the 44-second barrier.

American world record-holder Michael Johnson believes James will eventually challenge or possibly break his 43.18 time that was set in 1999.

On a positive note, performances by the U.S. men in the distance races have shown to be surprisingly successful.

Events longer than 400 meters have been dominated by African nations for the past 50 years. Nevertheless, Oregon native Galen Rupp made history when he won silver in the 10,000 meters last Saturday. It was the first time since 1964 that an American had medaled at that distance in the Olympics.

In the 1,500 meters, Leonel Manzano won silver while U.S. teammate Matthew Centrowitz was just .04 seconds from getting bronze.

No one expected the U.S. men to have such a showing in both races. But, of course, nothing is scripted and that is why they run the races.

Meanwhile, the American women’s team has looked far better than the men’s team.

In the sprints, Carmelita Jeter started off with silver in the 100 meters and Sanya Richards-Ross followed with gold in the 400 meters. Dee Dee Trotter also finished with a bronze in the 400 meters.

The U.S. went silver (Dawn Harper) and bronze (Kellie Wells) in the 100-meter hurdles.

On Wednesday, Allyson Felix (who finished fifth in the 100 with a personal best 10.89) went 21.88 to win gold in the 200 meters while Jeter (22.14) was third.

In field events, Jenn Suhr, who has only been vaulting since 2004, upset the Beijing and Athens gold medalist Elena Isinbaeva of Russia to win the women’s pole vault.

It should be an exciting final weekend of competition.

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