OG 2012 Track & Field: August 12: U.S. again the world’s no. 1 track & field team

LOS ANGELES, August 12, 2012 – When USA Track & Field next bellows about having the world’s no. 1 track team, believe it. With Meb Keflezghi’s fourth in the marathon today, the track & field competition was completed and showed just how powerful the U.S. continues to be in the premiere Olympic sport:

• The U.S. scored 303 total points, using the IAAF’s points-scoring system of 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for eight places, miles ahead of Russia’s second-place total of 176.5. How good is this?

Consider that it’s the most for the combined U.S. track & field team since 1984 in Los Angeles (399), the most in a non-boycotted Games since 1932 in Los Angeles (361) and the most in a Games held outside the U.S. since Paris in 1924 (326)! It’s almost 100 points more than in Beijing four years ago (207)!

The American team had more first (9), second (13), third (7), fourth (9), fifth (7) and sixth (6) places than any other country, and 56 finishes in the top eight. No one else was close.

On the medal stand, the U.S. team collected 29, one short of the “Project 30″ target, but still the most since Barcelona (30) in 1992. The second-place Russians had 18, 16 of them in the women’s competition.

• The U.S. men scored 162 points to 62 for Kenya in second place, the most since Atlanta in 1996 (175) . . . and a long way from the paltry 105 points in Bejing. The American men tallied 15 medals, one more than in Bejing 2008 (14), three better than Sydney in 2000 (12), but less than in Athens in 1996 (19).

• The U.S. women had one of their greatest meets in history, with 141 points, to win the team title from Russia (136) and 14 medals. The points total is the most since Los Angeles in 1984 (157.5), and the second-highest ever, meaning it’s the most in a non-boycotted Games.

The 14 women’s medals are more than any American women’s track team save the boycott-impacted 1984 Games (16). Outside the U.S., the previous best mark had been the 1992 Games in Barcelona, with 10 medals, the only two previous Games in which U.S. women had reached double digits in medals.

Despite the success, there are plenty of complainers out there (and I did read your e-mails) about the “failures” in the sprints and elsewhere. Consider, however, that this American team suffered badly from injuries, losing two pretty-sure medals in the 200 m with Walter Dix and 400 m with LaShawn Merritt. Suddenly that moves the medal count to 31 and at age 26, if Merritt was right, who is to say he wouldn’t have beaten back Kirani James, and then triumphed in the 4×400 m relay? Maybe we’ll know next year. Meanwhile, the Jamaicans were at full strength, although Asafa Powell didn’t show well in the 100 m final and then was left off the relay.

There were other U.S. losses too, such as Chris Solinsky in the 10,000 m, a still-not-right David Oliver in the hurdles, a still-recovering Tyson Gay not able to run the 200 m, Jeshua Anderson in the 400 m hurdles and so on. We’ll have a look later in the week at the U.S. team performance at the Games vis-a-vis the Olympic Trials.

For now, the U.S. can savor outstanding results, especially on the women’s side, and look forward to 2013. More on that later this week, too.

Final Scoresheets:
• Olympic T&F team scoring tracker – final: click here.
• Olympic T&F medal scoring tracker – final: click here.
• Full IAAF Placing Table scoring: click here.
• Comparison scoring and medals tracker 2000-12: click here.

(You can stay current with Rich’s technology, sports and Olympic commentaries by following him at www.twitter.com/RichPerelman.)


  1. Other than Reese Hoffa/men’s shot, we stunk up the stadium in the throws. 1 medal (Reese); no finalist higher than 6th (Carter, womens shot) from men’s and womens throws- 4 events w/ no finalist at all (M&W jav, M Discus, W Hammer). Quite a poor showing there, and no help down the road from USATF as there is no development programs to aid/instruct talented younger throwers who must continue to fend for themselves. USOC/USATF run their programs like the Republicans budget proposals: funding to successful events/”rich tax breaks” and figure it out yourself/”tax increase for middle class and poor” for the less successful events. A bit of support and development could make 32-35 medals/games a real possibility but the idea of 6 figure budgets for relays, w/ only 1 medal possible, over more funding to develop field/throws (24 possible medals from throws) just makes no sense, financially or logically, if higher medal totals is the goal.

  2. Loved the Games-what a show. Best Olympiad we have had in a long time. Of course nothing is perfect-there are untimely injuries. We should have swept in shot & done better in men’s hj/lj. Men’s 200 & 400H big disappointment but hey Jamaica is tough. Richards-Ross becomes only the 2nd American to win the open 4. Hurdles were great. Biggest improvement came in the distances & a big pv by Jenn Suhr. Marathon strategy is not working. These runners are overtraining & over-racing & that’s why we are ending up with a lot of dnfs as of late. It’s like the Radcliffe syndrome. I’d say move the Trials marathon to an earller date to allow more time for recovery. They have to know that you can’t keep signing up for 10k’s & half-marathons in an Olympic year & expect to be fresh & healthy for the games. It’s just too easy to get achilles tendonitis & plantar fascitis. I’m wondering if the Kenyan & Ethiopan marathoners are training exclusively on soft ground in their leadup to the Games. Best highlights-are womens’ relays, Galen Rupps silver which I predicted, & the women’s 2-3-4 in the hurdles.

  3. Yes-it’s interesting to note we were missing Solinsky, Webb, B. Jackson, Dix. The young NCAAers are good but it’s showing that runners really don’t peak till their mid-20s in the USA. We have good depth at 800 & 1500 but our losing our NCAAers in the Trials due to neurological fatigue. It’s just too difficult to gut out an 800 or 1500 after conference meets, regionals, NCAA, Trials, & then heats at the Games. We were fortunate that they removed the 10k semi-final at the Games. It used to be the opening track event followed by 1 day of rest, then the final. The new system of eliminating the quarterfinals allows 1 less race, but requires more focus in round 1 to get thru & race the semi. We’re still a tad short on that given that you have to race 3 potential races at 800 or 1500 in the span of 8 days. All coaches would tell you that this type of schedule is over-racing & simply survival of the fittest. It always shows in the 8–if your legs are dead-they are dead. Anyway the fact that Solomon & Symmonds placed as high as they did & the fact that Montano made the final was a big improvement.

  4. @ Jeff Gorski’

    Jeff, with all due respect, you’re way off based with your facts. The truth is all events are divided into one of three broad catagories – Best Bet, Targeted and Development. The sprints and hurdles are considered Best Bet and only get the second most amount of support (financial and direct athlete support), domestic competitive ops, etc. The category that recieves the lion-share of support is the Targeted area which mostly includes the throws and jumps. We have invested great resources into this group of events and will continue to do so. In regards to Development catagory group events, distance, Race-Walking, in these historically weaker events, we have a targeted approach on how money is to be best spent on the individuals within that group as opposed to the event group.

    We have numerous scientist and cutting-edge personel working within the USATF Development wing to answer the call of holding on to the medals we have and finding medals where traditionally have not been found. We do this by putting to task our scientist to find, collect, create and process the latest technology in each event. We work with both athletes and their coaches, getting them this info and instruct them on how to use it through summits, High Performance camps and athlete home training site visits. Finally, we pole that athletes as to where holes in the calendar have presented themselves and create Domestic Competitive Opportunities for athletes within established meets or create new “stand alone” meets such as Occidental for distance and Tucson for throws and jumps.

    Therefore, your assumption that throwers continue to have to “fend” for themselves is simply not true, at least in regards to sports science and competitive opportunities within the USA. Much of the improvements and medals achieved in this historic games are/were products of the USATF Development Committe’s strategic effort to answer the call of 30 medals in London. While we (USATF Development Committee) are not taking credit for the success of the 2012 team, we do acknowledge the opportunities that we created for all event groups, may have created a path to victory in this championship and beyond.


    Tonie Campbell, Chair
    USATF Men’s Development Committee

  5. Tonie- after several years on USATF HP/development staff I am fully aware of the “Best Bet, Targeted and Development” categories and the financial breakdowns for those groups; I was there when Brooks Johnson announced that program as the way things would progress. and that’s where the problem lies…. the “Development” events are where the most funding should go, in an effort to bring up our weakest events to more competitive levels on the world stage. The fact that we spend the least on those events is dooming them to continue on the path they have been on: struggling to get “A” standards and performing poorly @ major internationals. A couple domestic competitions and the sport science feedback is very minimal funding but it is an improvement on what had been in place. And I am fully aware of the sport science programs; 2 of the gentlemen running event programs are at a local university and I have worked with them for several years in developing the technical and analysis models currently in use.
    The bottom line is that the events that need the most help get the least support and that greatly reduces our chances of medals @ Olympics and/or world Championships.

  6. Mr. Perelman comes up with some important (and self-serving) statistics. He is a professional shill, so it’s business as usual. The USA also outscored Grenada. But on a per capita basis, it took over a million persons in the USA to generate one point. In Grenada it took about 13 thousand persons to produce one point.

    Overall, PERELMAN’S SPIN GETS GOLD! Sport: Arithmetic Gymnastics.

  7. Title 9 has winnowed male athletes who would be stars in Olympic sports. In its current state it provides as much opportunity to non-US as it does to locals.

    Making the final, when you send a full team, is not the great thing this article expouses. Many foreign teams only select when the athlete has a chance to win a medal. The US overwhelms with underwhelming performances.

    US T&F is in the latter stages of decomposition. When your team of sprinters is as old as this one is, don’t be expecting much to come through in the next 3 Olympics.

    This is figures lying, and spinners figuring.

  8. @ Jeff,

    Not to split hairs… but the model that Brooks first established has been revamped and supercharged. We don’t do business in the same way contrary to your belief. The Development wing is a far more aggressive, department than when you were involved.

    I do understand your point, and its one of constant debate but the numbers and finances do not add up to dump the needed revenues to elevate a “developmental event” to a targeted event. Doing this would seriously cripple efforts to sustain the historically strong events and risk losing or having the targeted events slipping backward into development catagory.

    The proof is in the pudding as they say… in a few short months, we will release our annual reports and you’ll see how a overwhelmingly large number of the athletes on the team, greater than ever before, have come through development, benefitted from us and will continue to rely on our efforts to advance theirs. It goes beyond medal count. If you look at our positioning in each event, our numbers of athletes with “A” standards and world rankings continues to climb. We are positioning ourselves for substained greatness.

    Jeff, its a good system now, one that I obviously believe in strongly and it is working.


  9. I really don’t buy the per-capita discussion at all if it isn’t corrected for the loss of potential top athletes to more lucrative endeavors. Perhaps if the per capita folks wanted to narrow the field to potential competitors only, it might make more sense. Otherwise it’s just a silly distraction.

  10. Tonie-you’re not down on the high school level to see. I have had several junior high prodigies in shot & disc that are not cultivated on the high school level. 2 reasons: first-we have a trend here in the northeast whereby football & bb coaches don’t want their lineman-linebackers to throw shot or disc. I don’t understand that logic. Some of these athletes are being kept as strictly football or bb specialists rather than going out for indoor or outdoor. Yes we know that the throws don’t get lots of attention here. But look at the Crousers where they have lifted the sport. We need to get fitness programs going much earlier in terms of park & rec. Up here everyone thinks they’re gonna play for UConn when actually soccer, football, & bb players are a dime a dozen. We need more active cultivation from USATF.

  11. @ Kim,

    Agreed. We have within the division a junior outreach program. We are beginning to partner with the Youth division of USATF and bringing them into the High Performance wing. With that marriage, we hope to inspire coaches to see what we’re doing and begin to implement our training tactics and models down to through the juniors and beyond to youth were applicable or safe.

    We believe that success will mirror success. However, there will always be a push and pull with other sports. Until coaches from other sports begin to realize the advantages of athletes competing in multi sports, we will always miss those athletes at critical cross-roads in thier lives. Until a time that coaches begin to embrace the new pardigms in training in all sport, we will still be frustrated by those athletes in which we lose to other sports.


  12. Tonie-

    I’m glad that development is being more aggressive… it was certainly heavily caged during my years w/ USATF. If the program is being so pro-active, why are there not USATF development coaches @ meets like New Balance Nationals, speaking to groups of kids and coaches/parents? I have been conducting a free javelin clinic @ NBN every year now for close to 20 years and have yet to see any other event chair, past or present, attending this meet and doing something similar other than the year Hal Connelly came to speak to the hammer throwers. As Kim mentioned, there are tons of HS coaches and athletes looking for help like this- ways to train their kids better, “ammo” to get football coaches to understand the benefits of “cross training” by competing in track in winter/spring, etc. Something like that can help improve junior results, giving young throwers more success and correct background in the event before they move on to college and then you have a program or pipeline of producing higher level HS kids who reach higher standards in college so we actually have more than 1-2 “A” standard throwers in our historically weak throws, javelin and hammer. The trend, unfortunately, is that the discus is sliding down as well, at least on the men’s side….

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