(Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
PROVO, Utah – Shaquille Walker and Shea Collinsworth are both heading to Eugene, Oregon, to compete in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for a spot on the USA Track and Field team. Both athletes will be competing in the 800m race.
“The mission is simple—go up and advance until they make the finals and once they get in the finals get in the top three to make it to Rio,” BYU track and field head coach Ed Eyestone said. “They need to treat each round as if it were a final because you need to make sure you advance. At this point in time it's just remembering all the work that they’ve done and believing in themselves and having fun. They have to have fun with this because if you let the stress carry you away then it’s not good for your ultimate performance. If they just trust in themselves, focus on their own game plan, and not worry about the things they can’t control then they will have a good performance.”
Walker qualified for the Olympic Trials with a time of 1:44.99 at the Sun Angel Classic. That time also qualified him for the 2016 NCAA Championships where he took third place with a time of 1:45.17.
Walker has been a standout athlete for the last two seasons that he has competed at BYU. He is currently ranked number two in the nation. Walker has recently decided to veto his final year on the BYU track and field team to start his pro career by signing a contract with Brooks Running Shoes.
“I think the times that he has posted over the last two years have certainly shown that he’s capable of running professionally,” Eyestone said. “Obviously he has run for BYU these last two years and he will continue to run for BYU in our hearts and I’ll continue to coach him through the Olympic games. It’s a big step for him and his family and I think he’s ready for that.”
Collinsworth ran a lifetime best of 2:02.83 at the 2016 NCAA Championships and placed third overall. That is also the time that qualified her for the Olympic Trials. She is ranked number nine in the nation.
Collinsworth has also been a top performing athlete the last three years with BYU. While she still has one more year left with BYU, Eyestone said he is excited for what she will bring to the table this weekend.
“She has really shown that she can be a contender in these big time meets,” said Eyestone. “She has the will, determination, and centered ability to go into the most competitive situations and not be rattled. It seems like the higher pressure the stakes you can depend on her having an excellent performance. It’s going to be exciting for us to see how this next week goes with her at the highest stake meet.”
Preliminaries begin on Friday, semifinals are on Saturday, and the finals will be held on Monday. A full schedule of the Olympic Trials can be found at usatf.com and to see the broadcasting schedule visit nbcolympics.com.