Olympic Weekend Preview: June 1, 2012

By Paul D. Bowker | June 01, 2012, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
LaShawn Merritt
LaShawn Merritt crosses the finish line ahead of L.J. van Zyl of South Africa and Leford Green of Jamaica to claim victory in the men's 4x400M in September 2011.

With 56 days remaining until the Opening Ceremony for the London 2012 Olympic Games, there is plenty of action for American athletes all over the world. Some of the biggest names in U.S. track and field, swimming, and men’s soccer will be competing while U.S. athletes will be seeking Olympic Team berths in archery, shooting and equestrian. Check out the Olympic Weekend Preview for all the details about these events and others in the world of Olympic sports.


Prefontaine Classic, June 1-2, Eugene, Ore.

Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver, world outdoor champion Jason Richardson and world indoor 60-meter hurdles champion Aries Merritt will be among a top international elite field in the men’s 110-meter hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. The two-day Samsung Diamond League event, held at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field, is a part of the Visa Championship Series.

“We’re so even that if one person makes a mistake, then the other person is going to win,” Merritt said. “For us to race each other is an honor. Sprinters tend to avoid each other, but (hurdlers) always go heads up against each other. We don’t mind lining up. I think it’s really exciting.”

The deep field in the hurdles event Saturday is just one of several star-studded, Olympic-level lineups at the Prefontaine Classic. The men’s 400 will feature two Olympic gold medalists, 2008 winner LaShawn Merritt and 2004 winner Jeremy Wariner. World indoor champion Sanya Richards-Ross will look for gold in the women’s 400. Walter Dix, a silver medalist in the 100 and 200 at the 2011 World Championships, will compete in both events in Eugene. Three-time world gold medalist in the 200 Allyson Felix and Diamond League champion Carmelita Jeter will battle Americans Shalonda Solomon, Bianca Knight, LaShantea Moore and Jeneba Tarmoh.

Bernard Lagat, a two-time Olympic medalist and owner of seven American indoor and outdoor records, will go for gold in the Bowerman Mile. And in the men’s shot put, Americans Christian Cantwell, Reese Hoffa and Ryan Whiting will battle a field that may produce throws of more than 70 feet. The men’s triple jump, and women’s discus and hammer throw will be held Friday night. Most other events are Saturday.

TV COVERAGE: 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBC

Also in track and field:

USA 10-kilometer Race Walk Championships, June 2, Albany, N.Y.


Grand Prix, May 31-June 3, Santa Clara, Calif.

Olympic medalists Natalie Coughlin, Dana Vollmer and Nathan Adrian will be among an internationally elite group of swimmers who will compete in the final meet of the Grand Prix season in Santa Clara, Calif. Coughlin, an 11-time Olympic medalist, has entered in five events at the meet: 50- and 100-meter freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley.

Michael Phelps leads the Grand Prix standings, followed by Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin. Other U.S. National Team members expected to compete in Santa Clara are Jessica Hardy, Caitlin Leverenz, Madison Kennedy, Mike Alexandrov, Kim Vandenberg, Emily Brunemann and Tyler Clary. The schedule includes the men’s and women’s 100 freestyle and 100 fly Friday, 50 and 200 freestyle Saturday, and 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and women’s 800 freestyle Sunday.

The meet began in record fashion Thursday with South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan winning the men’s 800 freestyle in a meet-record 7 minutes, 52.07. It was the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.


U.S. Olympic Trials, June 1-3, Colorado Springs

The third, and final, nomination shoot for USA Archery will be held Friday through Sunday at St. Mary's High School in Colorado Springs. The competition includes a 72-arrow ranking round from 70 meters Saturday, and round-robin matches Sunday. Once the nomination shoot is over, the top three men and top three women will earn nominations to the U.S. Olympic Team, pending approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee; however, the U.S. has only qualified one spot in the women's competition so far.

Brady Ellison, the world’s top-ranked archer in men’s recurve, is the leader in the men’s competition. Other finalists are Jake Kaminski, Jacob Wukie, five-time Olympian Butch Johnson, Joe Fanchin, Thomas Stanwood, three-time Olympian Vic Wunderle and Dan Schuller. Women recurve finalists include Miranda Leek, two-time Olympian Jennifer Nichols, four-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig, Kristin Braun, Heather Koehl, Lori Cieslinski, Mackenzie Brown and Holly Stover. The United States faces an Olympic qualifier in late June in which its women’s team will attempt to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games in the team competition. Otherwise, just the top-finishing woman from this weekend’s trials will go to London.


U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore, May 31-June 11, Fort Benning, Ga.

Four-time Olympian Daryl Szarenski disassembled his pistol in competition Thursday to repair a faulty trigger, then scored an opening-day high of 99.1 match points in the final of the men’s 50-meter free pistol. The competition continues Friday as Szarenski attempts to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games in a second event for USA Shooting.

Thursday’s event opened the U.S. Olympic Trials for Smallbore at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Ranges in Fort Benning, Ga. The 12-day competition doubles as the USA Shooting National Championships.

Through June 11, competition will be held in men’s 50-meter free pistol, men’s 25-meter rapid fire pistol, women’s 25-meter sport pistol, men’s and women’s 10-meter air pistol, men’s standard pistol, and men’s and junior men’s sport pistol. Three Olympic berths will also be awarded in women’s and men’s 50-meter rifle three position, and men’s 50-meter rifle prone.

Two Olympic berths will be at stake in the men’s 25-meter rapid fire pistol, and one Olympic berth in women’s 25-meter sport pistol and men’s 50-meter free pistol. Szarenski, Sergeant First Class, and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Jason Turner qualified for London in the men’s 10-meter air pistol in February. Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft qualified in men’s rifle prone through points he accumulated in 2010 and 2011. Jamie Gray has qualified in women‘s 50-meter rifle three position and Sarah Scherer qualified in women’s 10-meter air rifle. All qualifiers must be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team by the U.S. Olympic Committee.


U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Canada, June 3, Toronto

The U.S. Men’s National Team, which had a five-game winning streak halted by Brazil in a friendly Wednesday in Landover, Md., will take on Canada in an international friendly Sunday night at BMO Field in Toronto. It is the last friendly for the United States before it begins 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying competition against Antigua and Barbuda on June 8 in Tampa, Fla.

Herculez Gomez provided the only goal for the United States in its 4-1 loss to five-time World Cup champion Brazil at FedEx Field in Landover.

“We can take a lot of lessons out of that game,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “We proved to them that we can play with them. But we have to improve, absolutely.”

Prior to the Brazil game, the United States had yielded just one goal in four previous games, all victories, this year.

TV COVERAGE: 7 p.m. ET Sunday, NBC Sports Network, Univision Deportes


FINA World League Super Final, May 29-June 3, Changshu, China

The U.S. Olympic Women’s Water Polo Team won all three of its group-play matches in the FINA World League Super Final, including 17-3 over Germany on Thursday, and advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals against Italy. The tournament is being played in Changshu, China.

If the United States wins Friday, it’ll play in the semifinals Saturday. The title match is scheduled for Sunday. Team USA also defeated China 10-6 and Greece 8-4 in group play. Melissa Seidemann of Stanford scored three goals for Team USA in its win over Germany. Brenda Villa, a 2000 Olympian, scored six times in three games.

Also in water polo:

USA Men’s National Team vs. Croatia, June 1, Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Pasadena, Calif.


USA Field Hockey Women’s National Championship, June 1-8, College Park, Md.

Members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Women’s Field Hockey Team and members of the current national team are among those playing for national team spots in the USA Field Hockey Women’s National Championship. Play begins Friday at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The eight-day showcase features eight regions playing in five matches. The finals are scheduled for June 8. The regional teams are: California, North, New England, New Jersey, Mid Atlantic, Midwest, Pennsylvania and South. Lee Bodimeade, coach of the U.S. National Team, will name athletes to the national team and development squads following the championship game June 8. Two weeks after that, Bodimeade will name the 16-member Olympic squad for the London 2012 Olympic Games.


Devon Horse Show, May 29-June 2, Devon, Pa.

McLain Ward, who is attempting to make his third Olympic team after recovering from a shattered kneecap in January, won his seventh career Grand Prix of Devon title Thursday. The competition was a part of the third of four observation events that will determine the riders and horses for the U.S. Show Jumping Team at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“Obviously it feels great,” said Ward, one of 13 rider-horse combinations on the USEF long list competing at this weekend’s event. “I haven’t jumped jumps that big in awhile. It’s nice to be back. It was a really hard four months.”

Beezie Madden, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a two-time medalist at the 2011 Pan American Games, will be among the other top riders competing Saturday in the Open Jumper Stake at the Devon (Pa.) Horse Show. Laura Kraut, also a 2008 Olympian, placed fourth Thursday.

Also in equestrian:

Tattersalls International CCI3*, Olympic Games Eventing Team selection event, May 31-June 3, Ratoath, Ireland

CSIOYJ Reims, Show Jumping European Young and Junior Rider Tour, May 31-June 3, Riems, France


Taiyuan World Cup, June 2-3, Taiyuan City, China

Steven Gluckstein and Savannah Vinsant, who are the U.S. Olympic Team selection leaders in trampoline gymnastics, will be among seven Team USA gymnasts competing Saturday and Sunday at the Taiyuan, China, World Cup.

Also competing: Michael Devine, Logan Dooley, Dakota Earnest, Jeffrey Gluckstein and Alaina Williams.

Also in gymnastics:

USA Gymnastics Open Championships, women’s artistic, May 31-June 3, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.


ITU Pan American Cup, June 2, Dallas

Laura Bennett and Manuel Huerta, who have qualified for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, will be among more than 70 elite international athletes competing Saturday in the Dallas ITU Pan American Cup. For Bennett, it will be her first competition since recording her first career World Triathlon Series podium finish in May in San Diego and qualifying for an Olympic nomination. Huerta placed ninth in San Diego.

The draft-legal races will consist of a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike event and 10-km run. The women’s race will begin at noon local time, followed by the men’s race at 2:45.

Other competitors will include Kelly Whitley, the 2011 USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year, and Kaitlin Shiver, the USA Triathlon Under-23 Athlete of the Year.

Also in triathlon:

USA Triathlon Long Course Duathlon National Championship, June 3, Cambridge, Md.


Women’s Foil World Cup, June 3-5, St. Petersburg, Russia

Men’s Foil Grand Prix, June 1-2, St. Petersburg, Russia

Teenage Olympic nominees Lee Kiefer and Race Imboden will be among U.S. athletes competing in a pair of international fencing competitions this weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia. Kiefer, who is ranked No. 4 in the world, placed seventh two weeks ago in the Seoul Foil Grand Prix. A women’s World Cup event begins Sunday in St. Petersburg.

Imboden, 19, won his second career World Cup medal in Seoul. He has a pair of bronze medals this year and a berth in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Also in fencing:

Men’s Epee Grand Prix, June 2-3, Berne, Switzerland

Men’s Sabre Grand Prix, June 2-3, Varsovie, Poland


USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team training camp, June 5-11, Colorado Springs

The selection training camp for the USA Basketball Men’s U-18 National Team opens Tuesday at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The camp will be used to determine the 12 roster spots for the national squad that will compete in the FIBA Americas U-18 Championship. Twenty-four players were invited to the selection camp, including rising sophomore Jarnell Stokes of the University of Tennessee, and Nike Hoop Summit selections Gary Harris of Fishers, Ind.; James Robinson of Mitchellville, Md., and Rasheed Sulaimon of Houston.

University of Florida coach Bill Donovan is the team’s coach. After three days of training, the finalists for the team will be decided June 8 by the USA Men’s Junior National Team Committee. The FIBA Americas U18 Championship begins June 16 in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil.

Also in basketball:

USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team training camp, May 28-June 2, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.


IJF World Cups, June 2-3, Bucharest, Romania and Madrid, Spain

The IJF World Cup competition will be split into a women’s event taking place Saturday and Sunday in Bucharest, Romania, and a men‘s event in Madrid on the same days. Two-time world medalist Kayla Harrison is the top woman in the United States and one of the best in the world at 78 kilograms. Hannah Martin won gold at the last World Cup event in May in San Salvador.


Liberty Classic, June 3, Philadelphia

Theresa Cliff-Ryan, riding for Exergy Twenty12, and Jennifer Purcell, riding for TIBCO-To the Top, will be among the U.S. cyclists competing in a strong international field of 163 in the 17th Liberty Classic women’s race on Sunday in Philadelphia. Among others entered in the event is defending champion and current world champion Giorgia Bronzini of Italy.

Also in cycling:

TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, June 3, Philadelphia

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, June 2-3, Vale di Sole, Italy


ASICS University and FILA Cadet National Championships, May 31-June 3, Akron, Ohio

More than 1,100 wrestlers in both the Greco-Roman and Freestyle disciplines are competing this weekend in the ASICS University and FILA Cadet National Championships at the University of Akron. Finalists in the seven Olympic weight classes in the ASICS University tournament will qualify for the 2012 University World Team Trials. The Cadet National Championships feature many of the top high school wrestlers in the nation. The winners in each weight class qualify to represent the United States at the FILA Cadet World Championships in August in Baku, Azerbaijan.


Collegiate Wakeboard National Championships and USA Wakeboard Cable Wakeboard National Championships, May 31-June 3, Oklahoma City, Okla.

The University of Tennessee is the defending champion in the Jack in the Box Collegiate Wakeboard National Championships, which continue through Saturday at WakeZone Cable Park in Oklahoma City, Okla. On Sunday, the USA Wakeboard Cable Wakeboard National Championships will be held with a $12,300 prize purse. Champions in the pro men’s and women’s divisions will win spots on the U.S. Cable Wakeboard Team that will compete in the IWWF Cable Wakeboard World Championships in November in Manila, Philippines.


Volleyball Masters 2012, May 31-June 2, Leersum, The Netherlands

The U.S. Women’s Sitting National Volleyball Team, which is ranked No. 2 in the world, opened play Thursday in the Volleyball Masters 2012 by defeating third-ranked Ukraine, 25-5, 25-14, 25-17. The Netherlands and Slovenia are also in the tournament. All four teams have qualified for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The United States was to play Netherlands on Friday.

Katie Holloway led Team USA with nine kills, three blocks and two service aces. Team captain Kendra Lancaster was back in action for the first time in over a year due to a car accident.

Also in volleyball:

FIVB Seoul Women’s International Challenger, May 31-June 3, Seoul, South Korea


ISAF World Cup, June 4-9, Weymouth and Portland, Great Britain

Competition begins Monday in the Sail for Gold, an ISAF World Cup event in Great Britain. The week-long competition will be held at the Olympic Sailing Regatta venue.


Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships, May 31-June 2, Camden, N.J.

The University of Washington will seek to win its third consecutive national championship in men’s novice eight and its second consecutive title in varsity eights at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Championships on Cooper River in Camden, N.J. Other top men’s boats include Harvard University, Wisconsin, Brown, Cornell and Princeton. Qualified women’s boats in lightweight varsity eight and lightweight varsity four include the University of Wisconsin, Bucknell, Radcliffe, Stanford and Princeton.


IIHF InLine Hockey World Championships, June 1-7, Ingolstadt, Germany

Seven-time national team member C.J. Yoder will help lead the U.S. Inline National Team into the IIHF InLine Hockey World Championships, beginning Friday in Germany. The United States, which won the world title in 2010, opens play Friday against Germany, followed by games Saturday against Slovenia and Sunday against Canada. The quarterfinals are scheduled for Tuesday.


Senior Pan American Championships, May 28-June 3, Managua, Nicaragua

Competition continues through Sunday at the Senior Pan American Championships in Nicaragua. Among those competing for the United States: William Vassar, men’s kata; Sakura Kokumai, women’s kata; Tom Scott, men’s kumite open weight; Cheryl Murphy, women’s kumite open weight.

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. Material from various news services and press releases from National Governing Bodies was used to compile  this report. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.