The US Olympic Trials are over. This is the toughest Olympic team to make for track and field. So many finalists who came 4th to 8th position would be running at Rio 2016 if they had another passport!
There are plenty of stories out there, but as always, I will only focus on the coaching aspect (if you want sensationalism and shoddy journalism, you can go to Google news :)
Lane Draws for the 400 meters
This question was asked on Facebook, and I had to ask my old-time coach Kevin Tyler (now at ALTIS) about this pesky rule. Be sure to follow him on Twitter!
The rule is, the position you finish guarantees you a spot into the next round, but the time you run determines your lane draw.
Let’s use the semi-finals to finals as the example, regardless of a 2 section (16 runners) vs 3 section semi-finals (24 runners)
The IAAF rule preferred lanes is 3-4-5-6 on an 8 lane track, so top 4 times get randomly selected for lanes 3-4-5-6, and next 4 times get 1-2-7-8, assuming a 8 lane track. (Sometimes on a 9 lane track, they don’t use Lane 1, so it’s 4-5-6-7 and 2-3-8-9)
Hence, make sure you ABSOLUTELY qualify for the next round! (do I need to remind you this?)
But whoa… it’s not that easy.
Here are the results for the USA Olympic Trials 400 meters:
And here are the lane draw assignments:
400m Lane Draws
- Michael Berry Nike 45.63
- Kyle Clemons adidas 44.79
- Gino Hall Florida 45.33
- David Verburg adidas 45.19
- LaShawn Merritt Nike 45.05
- Gil Roberts Nike 44.67
- Tony McQuay adidas 44.24
- Najee Glass Florida 44.79
So the rule for USA (not IAAF) tracks is, every stadium has what they called “preferred lanes”. And for Hayward Field, the preferred lanes were 4-5-6-7 with 1-2-3-8 as the second choice.
Hence that explains why Tony McQuay got Lane 7. Did that hurt him for the Finals? No one will ever know, but we do know every lane is 400 meters, and you have to run your own race accordingly.
I don’t agree with this rule, but those are the rules in the USA.