Robert Black

The Announcement

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Considered by most as ‘the best track and field team in the world,’ United States Track and Field (USATF) announced its Olympic delegates Monday afternoon for the 2016 Olympic Games on August 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Among the delegates announced, six members of the newly formed Team USA — Taylor Ellis-Watson, Tyson Gay, Jarrion Lawson, Sandi Morris, Lexi Weeks and Chrishuna Williams – are current or former University of Arkansas student-athletes.

The announcement came following the completion of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials which saw over 170,000 fans travel to Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, to take in a bevy of awe-inspiring performances over a 10-day span.

Of the six Razorback U.S. qualifiers, Gay is the lone returning Olympian having first represented Team USA in 2008 (Beijing) and a second time in 2012 (London).

All of the five new Arkansas Olympians — including recent graduates Ellis-Watson, Lawson, Morris (2015) and Williams (2015) as well as freshman phenom Weeks — train in Fayetteville, Arkansas, under the guidance of their respective college event coaches.

Team USA – Men

A three-pronged dynamo, Lawson led the Razorback men academically, on the track and in the field. He followed his historic collegiate senior season which saw him match Jesse Owens’ NCAA accomplishments with a world-leading mark (8.58m/28-1 3/4) and second-place finish at the trials.

Already a tested and proven Olympic medalist, Gay raced onto his third-consecutive U.S. national 400 relay pool off two top-six finishes in the 100-meter dash and 200. Set to celebrate his 34th birthday in Brazil, Gay showed the world that he’s still capable of posting fast times, clocking a sub-10 second time in the 100 for a 10th-straight year earlier this season in June.

Team USA – Women

With her eyes focused on an Olympic berth in the 400, Ellis-Watson knew she had to finish no lower than sixth in order to earn the privilege to don red, white and blue in Rio. The 2016 NCAA 400 national runner-up accomplished just that, placing fourth in a new lifetime best of 50.25, securing her place as a member of the 1,600 relay.

Questioned by many regarding her return to the vault following her injury in May, Morris displayed her resiliency Sunday afternoon on the runway, clearing 4.75m/15-7 for a silver medal. A runner-up at the 2016 World Indoor Championship for Team USA, Morris will look to earn more hardware for the U.S. this August.
One of the youngest new recruits to the national team, Weeks showcased veteran-like consistency in her overall execution of the pole vault competition at the Olympic trials. Her final clearance of 4.70m/15-5 solidified her claim as one of the best American vaulters in the history of the sport. At age 19, she’s currently ranked third in the U.S. and 12th in the world.

Known more for her quarter-mile speed during her time as a collegian, Williams recently emerged as one of the nation’s best 800 runners during the last year. She finished third in the event at the Olympic Trials with a new PR 1:59.59 – the second sub-two minute performance of her career.

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