Friday, June 21, 2024

Day 1 US Olympic Track and Field Trials

Big Dog

by Mark Cullen

After a buildup to a competition that gained national attention, Eric Gregory’s dream of advancing to the next round of the men’s 400m at the US Olympic Track and Field Team Trials came to an end on Friday.

But not by much.

Gregory, a recent graduate of Washington D.C.’s Gallaudet University for the deaf and hard of hearing, missed his personal best by just six one-hundredths of a second as he concluded his season with his 45.79.

The three-time Division III 400m champion and US Deaf Collegiate outdoor record holder finished a non-qualifying 7th in a heat that interviewer Blake Timm described as the “Heat of Death” – so deep were the results and so outstanding his fellow competitors. In fact, each of the other six competitors in his heat qualified for the next round based on place or time, and 16-year-old Quincy Wilson set the world U-18 record with his astonishing 44.66.

The last seed of 35 entrants, Gregory finished 27th overall among the first round racers – a substantial and noteworthy improvement.

We’ve by no means seen the end of Gregory – or his coach, Byron Moore. In fact, this was just the beginning of Gregory’s career against the very best in the world.

“It was a good race,” Gregory said. “Everybody pushed me through the race.”

“It was the first race I ever had anyone faster than me, so that’s something I learned. That’s something I really appreciate from the opportunity I had.”

“I feel right now exactly like I did when I won my first national championship,” he said, beaming.

Gregory Signing "Love"

Gregory will move into his future with current coach Byron Moore, who said, “It’s really been a great experience for me. Personally, I’ve always wanted to see this great stadium since it was built. I saw the tour on You Tube and I (said) I’ve got to get there, need to be there, and to be here for this special reason,” he said, gesturing towards Gregory, “is really special to me.”

Gregory has clear perspective about where he is headed and how he can fulfill his enormous potential. He is grateful for the experience gained in Eugene today, and knows that “the last 100m is my greatest weakness,” and that that’s what he will focus on in the future.

They will continue to work together as athlete and coach.

“For sure,” said Gregory, almost incredulously, as if the answer was the most obvious he could give.

“You can’t get rid of me that fast!” replied Coach Moore.

“If you want to come out here (to Hayward Field),” concluded Gregory, “you’ve got to put your faith in it. You’ve got to really work for it."

In order to succeed here, he said, “you’ve got to be a big dog.”

“I will be back greater than today for sure.”

Special thanks to Blake Timm for his generous assistance in the preparation of this article.

Photo: Mark Cullen

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Mark for your coverage of Eric and Gallaudet Athletics. Enjoy the rest of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.