Track and Field athletes had their turn at the mic during the Team USA Media Summit on March 7.
Ashton Eaton, Allyson Felix, Justin Gatlin, Dawn Harper-Nelson, Meb Keflezighi, Aries Merritt and Alysia Montano were representing the team.
Montano had a daughter in August 2014 and making her comeback for the Olympics now. She said she’s been having one of the most amazing buildups she’s ever had — even pre-pregnancy. She said even after having a baby, she said her endurance is amazing.
Merritt had a kidney transplant and is just coming back to training and competing this weekend at indoor nationals. His sister donated a kidney to him. He said his fitness right now is better than it’s ever been in the past few years. He’s now able to do actual interval training now that he has a functioning kidney, and he said it’s making a big difference. He has to take immune suppressant drugs for the rest of his life, and he said it was hard to adjust to the meds and be able to compete.
Felix said she’s working on stepping outside of her comfort zone and challenging herself. In the off season, she got off the track and didn’t do any athletic movements. She said she was able to kick back and rejuvenate for this year.
Keflezighi, who is 40, is on his fourth Olympic team. He said a big part is keeping up with his body and making sure he stays healthy. Recovery, nutrition and having fun with it are more important now that he’s 40 and his body isn’t as fresh as it was when he was 25. He’s run 23 marathons so far.
Harper-Nelson borrowed the pair of spikes she won the Olympics in from a friend. She ran unsponsored, and now those shoes are in her closet, retired. She said she’s lasted this long at the top because she’s mentally tough. She has experience, has been there before and knows how it works. She said it’s important to come up with a plan and stick to it.
Eaton said he loves showing the real side of athletics, and not dehumanizing athletics. He said the reason they’re where they are is how they deal with the struggles of life. He started a website with his wife, asking people what their goal is, and what they want to get their gold medal in. They’re sending the person with the best story and motivations to the Olympic games. He said every athlete at the Olympics has a reason they shouldn’t be there, but they pushed through it.
After a question about doping allegations against other countries, Montano said she was flabbergasted to find that some other countries didn’t have labs, or had corrupted labs, to test athletes for doping in. She said she wants to be hopeful and say people are 100 percent clean, but the only thing she can do is hope. She said she wants to see more regulations, and to see the federation care more about clean athletes than “their own backside.”
There was a lot of talk on doping among the athletes, but the talk quickly turned to favorite music. It ranged from Drake and Beyonce to Adele. Felix said she has to listen to Beyonce, “I’m a Diva” to get pumped up for her races.