USA Athlete Quotes - Olympics, Day 5

USA Athlete Quotes - Olympics, Day 5

Provided by USATF


Women’s 1500m final

Jenny Simpson

“I just remember my coaches gave me a mantra coming into the race, and it’s their wisdom and my fitness that really was what excelled tonight. Their mantra for me was, ‘position the first two laps, and the second two laps become a predator.’ I think that they know what brings out the best in me and I’ve had races where I have gone to the front and been a protagonist in the race and really made something happen. Given my training and elements of the year for me, they knew that I would be in the best position if I was in a position to see the medals and run them down…. They said, whenever somebody jumps to the front, go with them, look at where the medals are, and go get ‘em. My last 300 meters is the best demonstration of their wisdom and me executing what they told me to do.”

“Last year in Beijing when my shoe fell off I ran the final 800 meters in 2:05, so I was telling myself all year if I can run the 800 in 2:05 with one shoe on who knows what I can do with two shoes on. So that’s been a fun way to make that misfortune something that is funny. And when I was doing my victory lap I saw my parents and I thought ‘exactly one year ago I was on this side of the track picking up my shoe, and this year I am here with an American flag. That’s always gonna be a very special memory for me.”

On being the first American woman to medal in the 1,500m

“To be the first American woman to medal in the 1,500m is something that I have not allowed myself to think about until now. It feels incredible. I want to be someone this country can be really proud to cheer for, and I didn’t decide to want to be that person this week, or this year. I wanted to be that person eight years ago. This has been a long ride of highs and lows and hopefully every American watching my race tonight, I want each of them to feel like they can take a small piece of ownership in this medal.”

“I posted on social media that I’m not here to race peoples’ past performances, and that was my way of saying, whatever people have done in the past, whatever my PR is relative to everyone coming into this race tonight, they’re just 1 of 11 to me and I want to try to be the first one across the finish line.”

“This is what I’ve prayed for. This is what I’ve worked for - just to have a shot. And so standing on the starting line, I feel like the only thing ahead of me is opportunity. If I run my guts out and I’m 10th or I’m fifth … you can still have pride and dignity in what you do on the track, no matter what happens. I just want to get to that point, and I got to that point today and was able to execute a beautiful race. … I’m so thrilled with how I ran today.”

THe last 100 meters, when I was running my guts out, that’s my favorite part of the race. I love this sport. I love how competitive it is. I love how hard the 1,500 meters is. I think I thrive on that, even though it’s really, really hard. That last 100 meters is always a thrill for me. I just love this sport. I love this sport.”

Men’s 110m Hurdles

Devon Allen

“It was a good experience, solid race, obviously I wanted to compete and win but to place fifth in the world isn’t bad at all.”

“I was just kind of focused on myself, focused on being clean [over the hurdles], which I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. But it was a great experience, my first international competition as well as my first Olympic Games, I did pretty well.”

“I wanted to compete. As an athlete, I always think that I am the best at whatever I do. So going out there obviously I want to run fast. Obviously these guys are great competitors, and they’ve shown that time and time again.”

“In general it’s all about they’re hurdles and they’re in your way, it’s about maneuvering and managing those barriers, and put yourself in the right body position, and my position wasn’t as great as I would want it to be, and that’s why my time wasn’t as fast.”

On training regiment heading into football season...

“For me I have a little bit of an advantage, a lot of these guys start training in October or earlier in the season, and I don’t start training until January, so although I am doing a lot of races, I am still kind of catching up training wise. My six-month training period is pretty good, me and my coaches talked about it, if I were to be a track athlete I would stick to training in January because it works out for me.”

“I will probably be the best shape athlete on the field right now, it’s a little bit different aerobically, just capacity I will probably be in the best shape.”

On nerves heading into the finals...

“As an athlete I have learned to compose myself and let the nerves come down so I could ramp back up. If they stay too high too long you will wear out, so I think I did pretty well, I was just really excited to run.”

On running next to training partner Johnathan Cabral...

“It’s funny that we were right next to each other because that’s how we practice everyday, he’s on the inside of me and I’m on the right of him. With us going 5th and 6th, it means alot. I think our coach should get a pay raise.”

Ronnie Ash

“[The form] got sloppy and it broke me down and it was no coming back against those guys, they were ahead and it was hard to come back when I got sloppy and it took me out. I was giving more grit than technique. In the 110 hurdles you still have to focus on technique between those because the barriers aren’t going to move, you have to clear those.”

On his road to be an Olympian...

“Beijing last year was a bit rough for me, so I actually making it to the finals [is] an up for me, I’m an Olympian right now, so that’s obviously a plus within itself because not everyone get to make the USA Track and Field Olympic team. I don’t want to settle there. You want these medals, you don’t come here just to be an Olympian, you come here to stand on that podium. I didn’t but I am going to work just as hard to get back there.”

Jeff Porter

“I didn’t execute the way I wanted to, but I’m grateful for the opportunity and grateful for being here. you’ve always got to look at the negatives and the positives. We’ll figure out what our next steps are and move forward. I knew exactly what I had to do. I was kind of unsettled from the start. But there’s no excuse. I’m a veteran. You take the good, the bad and you move on. Today just wasn’t my day unfortunately. I wish had executed my start a little bit better.”

Women’s Javelin qualifying

Maggie Malone

“It was my first international meet every, so it was kind of a big one. It was the worst performance that I have had all season, but it’s ok. I got my feet wet a little bit, I got put into the real world, I know what to expect for the future. I know that God has a plan for me and I did the best that I could so I’m excited to see what’s going to happen in the future.”

On her overall Olympic experience…

“It has been great, a little underwhelming, there’s some disappointment in there but I’m at the Olympics, and that’s the first step I think, hopefully to a long career.”

Kara Winger

“I have never been in 13th before, I have been way down on the list, I am frustrated that this year isn’t what it could have been, for reasons that I feel like were beyond my control, but I did everything I could with what I had. I just haven’t felt this pain in a while.”

“I have had three meets now over 61 meters in this season, because I have had three meets this season, I can’t be mad at that for the way that I have felt all year training. It has been really challenging just to battle everyday and fight through some things that have happened. My body felt better felt better than it has all year today, so it should have gone farther and it didn’t because I haven’t executed those positions enough times without pain to know exactly what they feel like in competition.”

“I am proud of what I did, I know that I could have made the final. I have never felt more ready, so that’s the hardest part.”

Women’s Long Jump qualifying

Brittney Reese

“The goal was just to come out and hit the qualifying mark, I did it on my first jump, and I kind of backed off which I know is something that I can’t do tomorrow. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow, my body is doing great, everything is going as planned.”

Tianna Bartoletta

“Today went how my qualification round typically goes, it’s never just a one-and-done, you wish you could go out there [in the finals] and go home early but I got used to the runway so I feel really good going into tomorrow, comfortable with how I can use my speed on the runway and how I can get off of the board.”

Janay DeLoach

“It was just an issue of being a little rusty, I was dealing with a sprained ankle at the Trials, so that was kind of a miracle with how I did on the third jump, but it has just been an ongoing battle for me. I haven’t competed since Trials, so it just wasn’t there, I was a little off the board. It was just difficult trying to get the spark back.”

“First and foremost I am proud of myself for making it here, I’ve had so many battles and a tumultuous season, and the last couple of years, I have to give myself a pat on the back. It’s just hard. I’ve never not made a final before. So this is the first time, I guess there’s a first for everything, but I am a firm believer that failure is the best way to learn so I’m going to go back to the drawing board and figure out what I have to do to get back on top.”

Men’s 400m hurdles semifinals

Kerron Clement

"It wasn't perfect but I'm really excited to be in the finals. I've positioned myself to be in a good lane on Thursday. I'm going to go all out."

On competing after age 30...

"I would say I'm more experienced. I've had a lot of great coaches throughout my career -- Bobby Kersee, Michael Holloway. I'm just really blessed to be back running again. But I have to give credit to my strength and conditioning coach at UF. He's a big inspiration to me and a big reason for my success for this season."

Byron Robinson

“It just wasn’t a good race.”

Women’s 400m hurdles semifinals

Dalilah Muhammad

“I’m pleased with my time, I just wanted to open up and run a little bit faster than I did yesterday and get ready for the final on Thursday.”

On making it to the 400m hurdles final on Thursday...

“It’s a dream come true, I’ve worked so hard for this, I’ve waited so long and finally it’s here so I definitely want to make the most of it. I’m going to go out there and keep what I’ve been doing and just try to do exactly what I’ve been told at practice. I’m going to execute [the race] to the best of my ability, that’s what I’m focused on.”

Ashley Spencer

“[The race] was good until like hurdle nine. I crashed into that hurdle, I kind of forgot that it was there, I was ready to sprint the 400. But I’m happy that I was able to recover and make it to the finals. Thursday I’ll be ready to go.”

Sydney McLaughlin

“I think my bounce has been missing all week. I wasn’t really myself these past few days. My races just weren’t me, and I think that showed. I’m happy I made it this far. I can go home saying I’m an Olympian. I guess it’s just the end of my season, not the end of my career. My start was very good. It was one of my better ones recently. I think just going into a race like this knowing how tough it’s going to be just kind of messes you mentally. I think it kind of affected how I ran and my stride pattern. I switched a couple of time when I shouldn’t have. I think I could have gotten farther, and it’s kind of upsetting not to have done that, but at the same time it’s been a long season and I’m happy where I’ve gotten.”

On making the semifinal...

“I was very shocked. It was a good kind of redemption, but coming back, it just wasn’t my time. It kind of showed that this wasn’t the time for me. Just being here is amazing enough for me.”

On getting Olympic experience…

“It’s gonna help me. I didn’t run the races I wanted to but now I know what it’s like to be here. I know the pressures of sleeping in a dorm room and seeing your competition in the food hall. It’s just practice, getting ready for the future. It’s just amazing to be here at this age. I have people to look up to. Everybody’s looking at you with these big expectations.”

Women’s 200m semifinals

Tori Bowie

“Today the plan was to come out, and my coach wanted me to get the feel for the curve. So the plan was to execute on the curve and relax on the straightaway if I could. I know tomorrow will be more hectic so I won’t be able to relax like I did today, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Deajah Stevens

“Getting on the track the first time let all of the nerves out, then I was just ready to execute today.”

On the competitiveness of the heat…

“I liked it because I felt like it would make me run faster, and it did, I ran faster than prelims. So it was good.”

On waiting to find out whether she qualified for the finals...

“I was nervous, but I was just like ‘if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.’ I’m happy with what I did, I don’t think I got a great start but I finished well.”

“I’m excited for the final, I saw that I time qualified so that’s exciting. I wanted to and I am just going to get out there and run.”

On journey to the Olympics…

“I’m not surprised because I feel like God has it in his plan, and it’s already written. What happened at PAC 12’s and what happened at Nationals was supposed to happen, and what’s happening now is supposed to happen, so I’m just going with it.”

Jenna Prandini

“Definitely didn’t execute the right race, but I’m happy to represent the U.S., but I am definitely disappointed with [my performance]. I felt good coming off of the curve, it just didn’t pan out the way I wanted I guess.”

“I’ve been practicing great, I know that I am capable of much better than what I showed on the track so I’m disappointed that I didn’t get that in the race.”


Men’s Triple Jump final

Christian Taylor, gold medal

“I never thought on my first jump that would be the gold medal jump, but I just stayed sharp and stayed ready. I am really grateful that Dong Bin put one out there because that really challenged me and woke me up.”

“This is what I live for, this is what pushes me. I will continue to push, the season is not over and I’m healthy. I take everything into consideration, I have a phenomenal coach and I trust the program.”

On almost breaking the world record on his final jump...

“Unfortunately I have been at that ‘almost’ mark for a long time. Now that fire burns even stronger because I know it’s in the tank.”

On the United States taking gold and silver in the triple jump...

To represent the US, to represent US jumps, the University of Florida, it’s a dream come true to do it with Will [Claye]. And going back-to-back it’s very special.”

On Will Claye proposing to his girlfriend following the competition...

“He’s a good man, I’m glad he made the most of his Olympics. That’s what it’s about, cherishing every second.”

Will Claye, silver medal

“That felt amazing. To come back and be the number two jumper in the whole world again is a great feeling. I’ve worked so hard this past four years and there has been a lot of times I didn’t think I was going to make it this far. There were a lot of times when I got knocked down and I just had to get back up and keep fighting, this is what comes of that. We all get knocked down and we all go through storms, but if you make it through the storm things like this happen.”

On the stress of the triple jump event or asking his girlfriend’s hand in marriage…

“The knee was stressful. I didn’t know if she was going to say yes or no but it was a great feeling. We’ve been together for so long and I just knew it was that time to take the next step. This morning I said today is going to be the best day of my life. I am going to go out there and do what I have to on the track first, then I’m going to make her my finance after.”

On the location of the ring…

“It was in my backpack. I had it for a little while, it was just the matter of when it would happen and today was when it happened.”

On what it will take to defeat fellow American Christian Taylor…

“I think whoever executes on that day better. We are equally talented but whoever executes better on that day is going to win and that is something I’ve got to make sure I do. Even when my emotions get involved I still need to stay focused on what I am doing and do what I’ve been doing every day in practice. We are all beatable and I have to come back and get my win next time.”

On how to stay focused on the competition with proposal in mind…

“When you have to jump against Christian [Taylor], you can’t think about anything else. I was worried about what I had to do on the track. I knew she was there and she wasn’t going anywhere. I was hoping nobody would propose to her first, before I did.”

On the duration Will and Christian will dominate in the triple jump…

“For as long as we want to. We have been blessed with this talent and we’re still young. Christian [Taylor] is 26, I’m 25. Jonathan [Edwards] was jumping until his mid-30s so we have many more years ahead of us. God willing, we both stay healthy and continue to have the same drive. We are going to continue to jump far, hopefully take down some records and push each other.”

On Queen Harrison’s reaction to the proposal…

“There were so many people around us and she just burst into tears. She couldn’t believe it, like I said I was a little slick she didn’t have any clue and it was just a heartfelt moment. To have so many eyes on us and for it to be such a special moment for the both of us, beside the medal and the triple jump just for us to have that moment together in such a special place. She is so special to me and she pushes me in so many ways and has helped me grow into the man I am today.”

Women’s 5,000m qualifying

Kim Conley

“I’m disappointed, I felt like I did a good job preparing for a championship-style race in these hot and humid conditions, but I also knew it was going to be really hard to make the final. There were four women in the heat that have PR’s much faster than the rest of us, then there were another five women gunning for that last [qualifying] spot. I absolutely believed that I could be up there in it, I just didn’t put all of the pieces together today. The season’s not over, so I will have to turn the page and keep getting ready, but I am honored to be here and always love putting on the USA singlet.”

On overall Olympic experience…

“Rio is very beautiful, and they have done a good job of putting it all together for the athlete experience. USATF and USOC did a great job preparing the athletes, so it’s been very positive overall.”

On sightseeing around Rio…

“I have been totally focused on the race, the plan was to be continually focused on the race, so maybe now I will, but I really haven’t thought that far ahead.”

On making her marathon debut in New York in November…

“I am going to change gears and start putting a lot more work on my marathon buildup, so I am excited for that.”

Shelby Houlihan

“I try to run smart, for the most part but I think I let them get away from me a little too much. I really had to work that last mile. It did feel a little harder than I wanted it to but I had a good kick in the last lap. I was focusing on the spots ahead of me.”

On learning how to run the 5k…

“Yes. I know how to race but definitely gaging how much I have left and how much I have left to kick, because I find I’m getting tired but as soon as I switch those gears I have a second wind, so I’m still trying to gage it. Today felt harder than it usual.”

On the race being harder than usual…

“I think more focusing on the final and preparing for that. The prelims will hurt but I’m trying not to focus on that too much. I got through and did what I needed to do.”

Men’s 1500m qualifying

Matthew Centrowitz

“It felt fine for the first half mile, I kind of felt a little more sluggish but honestly that’s what is expected. I can’t remember any meet that I medaled at a championship where I didn’t feel good the first round.”

“I’ve been here for over a week, so i was really itching to get out there.”

Robby Andrews

“It was great. Nice to get out on the Olympic stage finally. I was waiting around forever for this.”

On when he arrived in Rio…

“Since the opening ceremonies, since the Third or fourth.”

On the staying at the Brazilian naval station…

“Absolutely beautiful. You can see the Sugar Loft, Christ Redeemer and right on the water. It’s beautiful. It’s been really relaxing, peace and quiet.”

On the Olympic experience…

“I got to see a basketball game, a handball game and a couple rounds of the races.”

On the support of the USA Basketball team…

“I heard Kevin Durant screaming my name out there.”

Ben Blankenship

“I really thought, being the last [heat], and having everyone jog the first two, if we would have just clipped along we could get 12 through our heat. I made it through, it just wasn’t very pretty.”

“I shouldn’t have felt like this. I got jet-lagged, and my legs were just heavy. I just need to do something to just open them up. I felt like this at the USA championships too.”

Women’s Pole Vault qualifying

Jenn Suhr

On battling an illness prior to competition...

“The last couple of days I came down with something, and since then it’s been a battle to get healthy and feel like myself. I thought I was going to make the turnaround, but today was not so good in the morning. So now I have a couple of days until finals.”

“Today is probably the low point, today is probably the worst that I have felt. I can deal with the respiratory [issues], it’s the dizziness, and the cough. It’s just a battle right now.”

“I need to talk to [my coach] because there are a couple of things that I messed up in warmups, but I don’t know what [condition] I am right now. I thought I came in pretty hard but I know that I was off in terms of my head, and my perception was off. Physically I feel like I can vault higher than that, but mentally I’m not.”

On the difficulty of qualifiers...

“Qualifiers are very hard. You two different pits run by two different people, and they’re not run the same. Our pit was definitely run a little bit different than the prior pit, so we only got maybe three [warm up] jumps, whereas in the other pit you could keep jumping the whole time. They had to cut our pit off because we wanted to keep jumping. Everything is different in qualifiers. When you get through you breath a sigh of relief.”

Sandi Morris

“Today has been amazing, I accomplished everything that I had wanted to coming out here. Just to have clean attempts at bars and to make it into finals with ease, I got that done.”

On competing in the world circuit...

“I competed in World Championships last year in Beijing and I think that gave me a good idea of what it would be like today. Huge stadium, lots of fans, and kind of a foreign situation. It’s very different being in a meet in the US versus overseas anywhere. Numbers are in metrics, some officials don’t speak english, they don’t call out who’s up, who’s on deck and who’s in the hole, so you just have to know where you are in line.”

“There’s a bunch of things, being on the circuit for a year and learning the little things have been really good for me, because that really can get to you when you’re overwhelmed and there is all of this new stuff going on. So I went out there and I held my head high and I knew what I was doing and I got it done.”

Lexi Weeks

“I can’t say that I’m not disappointed. I’ve cleared 4.55m/14-11 lots of times this year. I think I had such a long season today and this is the meet that you want to be 100 percent. I was definitely excited, but I could feel that I had a long season and I could feel it today. I’m so thankful to be here hardly people get to say they are an Olympic athlete, so just to be here and experience it. It’s so amazing.”

On the experience of her first Olympics…

“From opening ceremonies, it was just those kind of moments that you will never forget. As long as I live I will think back to these moments right here and just getting to experience Rio. This is my first time out of the country and seeing different culture. It’s been awesome getting to do the different things here. Hopefully, now I will get to experience Rio a little bit since I have that to look forward to. I would definitely say I’m disappointed but I feel so blessed to even get to this point right here today.”

Women’s 100m hurdles qualifying

Nia Ali

“Being on the line for your first Olympics you just really want to get the ball rolling. I know I am more fit than I have ever been, so I just wanted to get out there and establish a nice rhythm.”

“My first hurdle was a bit high and kind of sloppy, so I definitely had to pull it together, get a little discipline going into the second [hurdle] and I got a nice rhythm going off of the third, and ran a good middle portion of my race and finished well.”

On the possibility of three Americans making it on the podium for the 100m hurdles...

“It’s really possible, but you can’t discount the other countries. Everybody is out here with the same goal in mind, they’re going for gold. If you shoot for gold you can definitely get top three, so we will do our best, and everyone is talking about doing their part and hopefully that’s good enough.”

Brianna Rollins

“It felt great. I tried to come out here relaxed and execute the best race I could to make it to the next round.”

On the potential of a USA sweep…

“I’m excited. I think we are all capable of it. If its the lord’s will, it will happen. As long as we continue to execute in the best way that we can, then it’s all in God’s hands.”

On the extra pressure of making a sweep…

“I don’t let it be pressure. I just continue to do what I need to do and do the best I want to do, so that I can achieve the goals, I want to achieve.”

Kristi Castlin

“It’s really hot out this morning but I won my section, it was fairly easy. I wanted to come out and execute in the first round. I’ve been here for about a week, so really just getting the dust off and all the jitters out. I’m really happy with how it went today.”

On the potential of a clean sweep for the U.S…

“We just want to take it one round at a time and really execute. Of course, anything can happen. All of the young ladies here are very prepared and ready. I feel like if we execute, do what we are supposed to do and we come out successful, then a swept will be great for America.”

On the strength of the 100m hurdles…

“It’s unfortunate, in 2012 I had one of the fastest times going into the Olympic trials myself, but unfortunately I hurt hamstring, so it’s unfortunate for Keni [Harrison] not to be able to make it but again all of the top six or seven finalist in the U.S. Olympic trials could’ve been a part of this team. I was happy with the three young ladies who made it out and will represent to the best of our abilities.”

On the relationship of the team…

“We all have a great relationship. Again, we are competitors but once we get on an international circuit sometimes as Americans we have to bond together because we know that there are so many of us, so really we are all replaceable at any time. We really know that.”

Men’s 200m qualifying

Ameer Webb

“I took it out hard and then I gave it too much on the second half of that bend and that;s kind of what allowed them to come up on me a little bit more. Then on the straight, I thought I was in second but I took another look and found out I was in third, and then I pushed and tried to make the best time that I could to make sure that I got in.”

“It’s a lesson learned, but not the hard way. It could be the hard way looking at the lanes in the semi-finals, I could have lane 1 or 8, but I’m just glad that I get to run again.”

“I was just upset that I let that opportunity to get away from me to get a qualifying spot instead of waiting on the steps and hoping to get a qualifying spot [on time]. I was stressed, but once you get that lesson, you learn it. I’m blessed to get another shot.”

Justin Gatlin

“It felt good, it felt easy. Coach said to just go out there and run the turn, make sure that you get the lead going into the straight away and just hold onto it. I had Ramon [Giddins] out there in lane 5, he ran really good, ran hard, so coming home on the straightway felt like a good practice.”

On preparing for the 200m following a silver medal in the 100m...

“You’ve gotta take that hat off and put the 200m hat on, and prepare yourself for the next round.”

“It’s not just about the run, it’s about the transportation, getting back to the village, and getting enough rest. You’ve got to be able to not stay up too late, but how hard is it not to watch the women’s 400m finals, it was an epic race.”

LaShawn Merritt

“We train everyday, I have been training everyday since October or November. So three 400m [races], I’m alright, I’m not too tired. I have trained to be able to come here and do this. I did it at Trials and ran well, so I’m going to go for it.”

On the 400m final on Sunday night…

“Overall, I didn’t have a great race, but I looked at film and I checked it out. Now my mindset is all on the 200.”

On potentially racing against Usain Bolt...

“It’s not the final yet, so for me he [Bolt] wasn’t in my heat, so it was just about taking my heat and getting ready for the next race.”

“I don’t even think about that, he’s another competitor. I understand that he’s the top of the sport in an event, but when you train you think about yourself.”