Saturday, May 25, 2013
Ben True knows the stakes. So does Becky O'Brien.
U.S. Track and Field Trials
WHERE: Hayward Field, University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.
WHEN: June 21-25; June 28-July 1
U.S. Swimming Trials
WHERE: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.
WHEN: June 25-July 2
And Lauren Forgues. And Anna Pierce, Ben Shorey and Riley Masters.
The U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials begin today in Eugene, Ore., and for a handful of Mainers, this is the chance to earn a berth in the Summer Olympics in London.
"One of the reasons you compete in your sport is to reach for the highest level," said True, who will compete in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs. "And the Olympics are the highest level in our sport."
The Trials will start with the hammer throw Friday and conclude July 1, when Forgues and Pierce make their bids for the team in the 20-kilometer racewalk and 1,500, respectively.
Of course, track and field isn't the only sport in the Olympic spotlight. The U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials will be held June 25-July 2 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
Five Mainers will compete in those Trials, headed by James Wells of Phippsburg and Cheverus High, and Jenni Roberts of Sanford.
The U.S. rowing team held its Trials last week and will announce its Olympic team Friday. Eleanor Logan of Boothbay Harbor won a gold medal as a member of the women's eight crew at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is likely to be part of that boat again.
It is, for all the athletes competing, time to shine.
"I'm on track to do what I have to do," said Cumberland's Becky O'Brien, who will compete in the shot put and discus. "I haven't felt this way since I've begun college. In high school (at Greely) I was able to perform my best when it really mattered.
"I feel ready to perform my absolute best and give everything I have."
O'Brien took the spring semester off from competing for the University of New York at Buffalo to prepare for the Trials. She returned home to train in early May.
"I'm the most confident I've been in my training in years," she said. "I was able to focus and get everything right. I had the right support system in place, which is very important."
O'Brien trained with her father, Dennis, who was her coach in high school, and enlisted the help of Greely classmate Adam Copp. Her qualifying throws will put her right in the middle of the competition, but O'Brien is ready to make a statement.
"Competing in the Olympics has been a dream long before this year," she said. "I've made a lot of sacrifices. I've dedicated my whole life to it."
True understands. He probably enters both his races as an underdog – he's got the seventh-best qualifying time in the 10,000 and the eighth-best in the 5,000 – but is ready to earn his spot in the Olympics.
He feels his best chance is in the 10,000.
"I'm definitely doing this with the goal of making the team," he said. "I feel like I'm right there with them. Whatever way the race is run, I feel I have a good shot of being there. All those guys in the race, with the exception of Galen Rupp in the 10K, I've beaten at one time or another in the last two years.
"I'm confident I can beat themwhen it really matters."
The 10,000 will be run at 9:45 p.m. Saturday.
Forgues is hoping for a better showing than the 2008 Olympic Trials, when a knee injury forced her out of the race. She enters with the fifth-best qualifying time but feels the race is wide open.
"All of us are at the point where any of us can win," said Forgues, who grew up in Boothbay.
She has been training in San Diego. "I'm pretty excited because this is the first Olympics Trials where I'm actually a contender," she said. "But it's also nerve-wracking because I am a top contender. I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself."
Her race starts at 10:30 a.m. on July 1.
Shorey, the Ellsworth High grad, failed to qualify for London in the 50-kilometer racewalk – which is his strongest race. His last chance this year will come in the 20K racewalk, which is set for 10:30 a.m. on June 30.
"That's all I train for," said Shorey of the 50K. "I don't train for the 20K. I expect to finish. But there's no way I'm in shape to be in the competition; there's no way I'll walk the standard."
Pierce, who competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the Beijing Olympics, is attempting to come back from a disappointing 2011, when she battled illness. She's got the fifth-best qualifying time in the 1,500.
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: