Thank you from vin lananna
Dear Citizens of TrackTown USA:
Two weeks ago, as I walked into Hayward Field before the opening ceremony of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials, I was struck by a number of remarkable sights and sounds.
First of all, the stadium and surrounding area has never looked better to me. The field of play was immaculate, the stands were filled and the spectators were buzzing with anticipation. The Fan Festival was rife with activity, from kids lining up at the Starting Block to those sampling multiple food and beverage options while preparing to watch the competition unfold on the huge video boards.
Our officials were dutifully in place, eagerly awaiting the onslaught of athletic performances which, over the course of the next 10 days, would come to represent a not-so-subtle shift in our sport, as we crowned 86 first-time Olympians.
And, nearly everywhere I looked, I was met with a welcoming smile from one of the more than 2,000 volunteers who form the backbone of everything we do at TrackTown USA. One of those volunteers – her name was Janet – thanked me for allowing her the opportunity to be a part of such a magnificent event.
My response? I was the one who wanted to thank her.
I have said this before, but it bears repeating: Without the unwavering support of our volunteers – who are truly professionals in so many different ways and in so many walks of life – our vision to change and grow the sport in a positive direction for future generations in this country would not be possible.
So, please allow me to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who played a role, no matter how small or large, in helping the Eugene-Springfield community achieve its ambitious goal of making TrackTown 16 the “best Trials ever.”
We packed the stands at Hayward Field with nearly 177,000 fans, the second-highest attendance figure in Trials history, and that doesn’t include the more than 2,000 spectators who lined the streets of Salem to cheer on the race walkers, and another 5,000 who showed up to watch the men’s and women’s hammer throw being contested inside the oval for the first time in history.
Those were both exceptional events.
The City of Salem should be congratulated for fully embracing the men’s and women’s 20,000-meter race walk, allowing us to expand the TrackTown spirit to the State Capitol steps, and providing the competitors with what they called the “best crowd” in race walk history.
Similarly, “Hammer at Hayward” will go down as an historic milestone for that event, with most of the credit going to our own Lance Deal, who not only designed and built the hammer cage, but worked tirelessly to create a memorable experience for the athletes.
My thanks also go out to all those who made our youth initiatives so compelling.
Now in its third season, the TrackTown Youth League presented by Providence Sports Medicine took another step forward as more than 1,500 youngsters from across the state of Oregon participated in 14 regional all-comers meets, culminating with 300 kids advancing to the championship meet at Hayward Field. Our thanks to the Oregon Sports Authority for partnering with TrackTown to deliver the event.
In addition, the Trials’ edition of the Oregon Track Club’s all-comers meet was a spectacle to behold; perhaps the most successful ever as more than 1,200 people – most of whom came from out of town – took part in the events which were capped off by an inclusive all-ages “victory lap.
I am humbled by the many partnerships we formed with government entities and other organizations to make these Trials so successful – the cities of Eugene and Springfield, Lane County, the State of Oregon, the University of Oregon, Travel Lane County, Lane Transit District, USA Track & Field, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the entire TrackTown USA staff. Their collective expertise was invaluable.
My gratitude to all of the local businesses who worked hard behind the scenes to roll out the red carpet for our visitors, and special thanks to our 10K Club members, who contributed so generously in private donations.
I would also like to acknowledge the outstanding work of 455 accredited media, with a special shout-out to the photo and sports staff of The Register-Guard for producing a compelling 8-page section each day devoted to the Trials. They did a wonderful job of capturing the drama and beauty of this amazing sport.
I want to thank our fans for their heartwarming response to the recognition of 31 Heritage athletes, representing the best moments from past Trials in 1972, ’76 and ’80.
Finally, and most important, I must thank the more than 1,000 athletes and 500 coaches who put on a spectacular show as we filled the Team USA roster with 129 men and women who will represent our country, Aug. 12-21, at the Rio Olympics.
As many as 25 of these Olympians will be back at Hayward Field on Friday, July 29 for the inaugural TrackTown Summer Series, one final tune-up on the Road to Rio.
Let’s give them a send-off they won’t soon forget.
President, TrackTown USA
2016 Olympic Head Coach – Men’s Track and Field
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