Inside Track

Rio Olympics an awe-inspiring experience

RIO DE JANEIRO – On the long trip back home, I had a chance to reflect upon the wonderful experience I had at the Rio Olympics. Team USA’s medal count was outstanding and the men’s and women’s track and field team will be remembered as one of the most accomplished ever.

We saw balanced efforts in all events areas with a slew of gold medals, gutsy performances, national records, season bests and personal bests. 

Yet, what I will recall best is the people.

We had a hard-working and dedicated coaching staff that worked together every day from …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 16

Future is bright as Team USA exits Rio with 32 medals

RIO DE JANEIRO – My time in Rio has come to a close with the final night of festivities. I thought the Games were awesome. The citizens of this beautiful city are warm and friendly; the thousands of volunteers were kind and helpful; and the competition was intense and awe inspiring.

Team USA had a spectacular 10 days of competition, capped off by Galen Rupp’s brilliant bronze medal run in the men’s marathon – bringing the total U.S. medal count to 32. Rupp became the first American …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 15

Centrowitz leads Team USA with 1,500-meter gold

RIO DE JANEIRO – My time in Rio is coming to a close, but this event has been nothing short of spectacular. Incredible performances by our team defined the final session of track and field at these Olympic Games.

For the first time since 1908, an American won the gold medal in the men’s 1500 meters. In a perfectly executed tactical race, Matthew Centrowitz controlled the pace of the final and crossed the line ahead of several previous Olympic champions. With a look of disbelief, Centrowitz grabbed the American flag for his …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 14

Team USA makes its case as world’s best

RIO DE JANEIRO –  Last night, Team USA had the great privilege of witnessing a historic moment inside the Engenhão stadium – three American women, full of pride, stood on the awards podium and all listened to their national anthem being played. All three 100m hurdlers were honored in that moment, not just the winner. Awards ceremonies have a way of connecting us all in a fundamental way. Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin showed us what can be achieved with discipline, talent and hard work; they showed us …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 13

Team USA veterans mentor rising stars in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO – One of the most rewarding aspects of these Olympics for me has been the juxtaposition of the performances of first-time Olympians with the consistency of, and often, the mentoring by, veterans like Ashton Eaton and Michelle Carter. 

To see this balance of experienced athletes and new blood reminds me that the kids are all right, and our future is in good hands. As years pass, there is inevitably a changing of the guard, and this team has shown how impressive both sides of that transition can be. …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 12

Women’s hurdle sweep highlights huge day for Team USA

RIO DE JANEIRO – One of the most critical components of a successful team performance at an event like the Olympic Games is the medical staff involved in the caring for and treatment of the athletes. 

Team USA pole vaulter Sam Kendricks put it best when he posted on social media that the medical personnel “are the heroes that give us as athletes the edge needed to push our limits and grow. I know I was at my best with you all behind me in my ‘village’.”  

The …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 11

Volunteer spirit lifts athletes in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro is a big place, but no matter where I have gone in this city, I have been helped and greeted by the incredible volunteer workforce that helps run the enormous undertaking of the Olympic Games.

None of these events are possible without a unified vision and the extraordinary number of hours that volunteers give of themselves.  

Whether it’s the person directing crowds in a busy metro station, or the person welcoming athletes at the Olympic Village, each plays a role in ensuring the success …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 10

Team USA collects more medals, records

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Olympic spirit is alive and well in Rio.

As I ride the bus each day and hear the languages of the world, I am reminded that sport is a universal language. There are many examples to cite where the power of sport has been utilized to resolve conflicts and create good will.

Closest to home, Team USA has been impressive on the track and in the field with outstanding results. American swimmers and gymnasts have motivated us to aim high.

Our coaches, medical and support …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 9

Team USA makes history in women’s marathon

RIO DE JANEIRO – Team USA made history, set records and kept advancing on Sunday.

For the first time in Olympic history, three Americans finished in the top 10 of the women’s marathon. In hot conditions, Shalane Flanagan, Desi Linden and Amy Cragg dug deep and inspired many with their outstanding performances.

Then it was back over to the filled-to-capacity track stadium for the evening session. Team USA’s 400-meter women dominated the semis as Allyson Felix, Phyllis Francis and Natasha Hastings advanced to the final with three of the top-five …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 8

Team USA marches on, snags gold in long jump

RIO DE JANEIRO – Saturday’s morning session was all about advancement. All the American steeple women went through, all the U.S. men qualified through to the semis in the 100 meters, and the U.S. had its first woman qualify through to the final of the triple jump since 1996.

It is easy to sit back and think these are automatic or simple things, but rounds can take their toll and eliminate incredibly talented people; yesterday Team USA did its job and prepared well for the rounds to come.

During …


Message From Rio 2016 - Day 7

Women’s 10,000m final makes Olympic history

RIO DE JANEIRO – Today, the Engenhão Stadium saw fireworks in the very first track and field final of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana shattered the world record in the women’s 10,000 meters to the cheers of a crowd who couldn’t believe the splits they were seeing on the big screen. Behind Ayana, Team USA’s Molly Huddle ran an incredibly gutsy race to break the American record and finish in sixth place. She made her country very proud today.

There were other good performances as many athletes advanced …


Message from Rio 2016 - Day 6

Team USA ready to roll at Rio Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO – It is the night before the first day of track and field at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and I am very ready for the meet to begin.

The athletes have been a joy for our coaches and medical team to work with each day. They are excited, positive and prepared to compete.

For me, it has been a pleasure to work with U.S. Olympic women’s head coach Connie Price-Smith and the rest of the men’s and women’s coaching staff. Even though we come from different backgrounds and …


Alexi Pappas: The night before my first Olympic Games

RIO DE JANEIRO – In middle school physical education, I was very good at the typical PE class sports. We rotated between the classics: kickball, softball, soccer, etc. I was good at those things. When it rained, though, things were different. My middle school, like many, was the type where PE class was moved inside when it rained. Often, this meant a movie day. But I remember one day in particular when our teacher decided we would sumo wrestle instead. It was, after all, PE class.

She arranged us in descending height order and had the two smallest girls wrestle first. …