10 Seconds: An Olympic Trials Preview
Jun 18, 2021
Capturing the critical moment of each day in Eugene with the help of The Orange Runner.
By Liam Boylan-Pett
Illustration by Luke McCambley a.k.a The Orange Runner
On the final day of the 2016 United States Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon, in the final strides of the women’s 400-meter hurdles, Dalilah Muhammad leaned across the line to cement her commanding win in the event in a time of 52.88 seconds. It was a meet record and a personal best by nearly one second. Behind her, Ashley Spencer took second in 54.02 seconds, and in third was the high school phenom Sydney McLaughlin, who ran 54.15 seconds to make the team as a 16-year-old.
Today, the two are arguably the best 400-meter hurdles of all time. Muhammad is the world record holder at 52.16 seconds. She ran the time at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, with McLaughlin behind her in 52.23, the third fastest time ever (behind Muhammad’s 52.20 from the 2019 U.S. Championships).
On that July day in 2016, it was one of the many incredible stories on a day filled with finals and athletes achieving their Olympic Dreams. There was Jenn Suhr winning another U.S. title in the women’s pole vault and Erik Kynard taking the high jump in 7-foot-6-inches. Barbara Nwaba won the heptathlon and Molly Huddle won her second Olympic Trials race, adding the 5,000 to her 10,000 win from earlier in the competition. Then, there was Kerron Clement taking the men’s 400-meter hurdles before Rai Benjamin staked claim to the event and Tori Bowie reaching the finish line just before Deaja Stevens in the 200. Finally, Jenny Simpson and Matthew Centrowitz won thrilling 1500-races.
It was, to say the least, an action-packed day at the Olympic Trials. That 400-meter hurdle race, however, stands out. It was a harbinger of what was to come in the event, and it is an event that will be can’t-miss TV in both Eugene and Tokyo.
Had Løpe existed back then, I hope it would have been the moment we captured the way we’re planning to cover the Olympic Trials this year: In 10-second bursts.
Each morning, you can expect a piece recapping 10 seconds of the meet—what we think were the most critical 10 seconds of the night before. I say we because I am partnering with Luke McCambley, also known as The Orange Runner on Instagram. He will be doing an illustration each day from Eugene.
We might get some moments wrong in terms of the biggest story four years from now, but we are going to do our best to capture a wide range of happenings at the Olympic Trials—that is the essence of the meet, after all.
So, follow along on Twitter and Instagram and right here.
After one heck of a week of the bad side of track and field, I am excited for some races. Track and field can be the worst, but once the gun goes off, it can also be the greatest.
All of our Olympic Trials stories will be free throughout the event. Please consider supporting Luke on his Patreon.
Hurry, but slowly.