(Photo by August Frank/Oregon News Lab)
EUGENE, Oregon – Former Cougars Shaquille Walker and Rena Chesser and current junior Shea Collinsworth competed over the weekend in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials held in Eugene, Oregon.
Only days after signing a professional contract with Brooks Running, Walker ran in the first round of the 800m trials on Friday. Walker ran a time of 1:47.76 and placed third in his heat and 10th overall. The top three of each heat, plus runners with the next four fastest times, advanced to the semifinal held on Saturday.
But the 800m semifinals ended in controversy when, after maintaining second place for the majority of the race, Walker was clipped from behind by another athlete in the final 50 meters, stealing his momentum and slowing him down, causing Walker to place fourth with a time of 1:47.93.
“Everything was going just great,” Walker told Flotrack on Sunday afternoon. “I came off the curve with 100 meters to go, in second place. With about 50 meters to go, I started feeling a hand on my hip and then some clippings on my heel and then a major clipping that totally flattened me and took all my momentum away.”
As the runner behind him tripped and fell to the ground after clipping him, Walker was passed by two other runners and he finished fourth in his heat.
Walker and BYU track head coach Ed Eyestone quickly filed a protest after the race and waited to hear back from officials if he would be advancing to the finals.
“At that time (right after the race) I didn’t really panic because I thought I would protest and I would get through. I thought that surely everyone saw the clipping. But unfortunately, the protest ended up not turning out the way we thought it would.”
Walker’s initial protest was denied and the runner behind him was advanced into the final round. Walker and Eyestone filed a second protest after consulting rulebooks and adding additional information, but that protest was also denied and Walker was kept out of the 800m finals.
Junior Shea Collinsworth also qualified for the Olympic trials in the 800m after her performance in the NCAA Championships, finishing in third place with a personal record time of 2:02.83.
Collinsworth competed in the first round of the women’s 800m in the Olympic Tials on Friday and ran a time of 2:06.65, placing 7th in her heat and 33rd overall. She did not advance to the semifinal round.
Former Cougar and mother of four Rena Chesser competed on Monday in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. She ran a personal record time of 9:43.80, placing fifth in her heat and twelfth overall. She will advance to the 300m steeplechase final, which will be held on Thursday at 8:48p.m. (PDT).
You can following along to live results of the Olympic Trials here. See nbcolympics.com for a broadcast schedule.