Sunday, June 24, 2012

Beard does area proud competing for Olympic berth

It just wasn't meant to be for Euclid graduate Jessica Beard on Sunday during the women's 400-meter run final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. Beard took eighth, a little more than a second off the top three and subsequent qualifiers for the London Olympics with a time of 51.52.

It was going to be a tough ask no matter how you slice it, especially being the seventh fastest of eight finalists. But there is absolutely no shame in being in the argument.

As far as the mechanics of the race, coming out of Lane 2 is not an easy chore. At that level, no matter how good your skill set is you are not testing the oncoming wave of the stagger being made up by the middle lanes.

A couple things worth noting: In the last two Olympic Trials prior to Sunday, Lane 2 accounted for a fourth and a seventh. Also, the third-place time in those Trials were a 50.28 and a 50.88.

In order to be a factor from an outside lane, it requires attacking the backstretch and turn hard. And that's a risky proposition, because taking it out too hard likely leaves little to nothing for the last 50 meters. It also makes it an uphill battle at best to test the median of those third-place times, a 50.58.

It felt like about a 50.4 would be needed coming in, and that's exactly what happened. Sanya Richards-Ross, a great U.S. ambassador for this sport if there ever was one, took it out so flawlessly and then brought it home in 49.28. She was followed by Dee Dee Trotter (50.02) and Francena McCorory (50.43).

Again, that takes nothing away from Beard being in the argument. She had a shot at the London Olympics, and as has been stated before, the area needs an example, of which she certainly is one. If you can look at someone from our area come up through the ranks and challenge for the Olympics - whether they make it or not - it's inspirational to younger athletes that they can aspire the same way.

So while it wasn't meant to be this time for Jessica Beard, she more than did this area proud.

- Chris Lillstrung | @CLillstrungNH


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