To qualify for the Olympics in the U.S., you must have the Olympic standard (meet a certain time for a distance) and you need to be in the top three in your event. The level of competition in the U.S. is ridiculous. Kenya and the U.S. are top two in the world, and the U.S. has by far the most potential runners. In other countries, there are only a few who meet the Olympic standard, so they go automatically (some Americans have actually switched nationalities just to make it to the games). In the U.S. we have hundreds who meet the standard.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
"OK, to thin out the crowd, we're going to release the Minotaur."
And it all depends on the trials. If the fastest person on Earth has a bad day and comes in fourth, they're not going to the Olympics. Remember that scene in Cool Runnings where the three runners fall during the Olympic qualifying race and there is no do-over? That totally happens.
The pressure gets to you. At the 2012 trials, where I competed, I ended up giving speed surges at the wrong times and came in fifth place. In a different race from mine, one of the top 10 runners in the world had two false starts and got disqualified. He threw his shoes into the crowd in frustration. Hopefully they didn't spike somebody's calf and ruin their career ...
"I didn't even have to give him my Coke for these!"
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