Just Short of Achieving the Trials Dream

So many athletes dream of getting the chance to compete at the Olympic Trials.  Unfortunately, the majority of athletes who dream of making it to the starting line don’t get the opportunity to.  Could be a result from injury or just from running out of time to get the qualifying mark.  Regardless, it is heartbreaking when you come to realize that despite your best efforts, you cannot make the cut.

In the last few days, three members of HepsNation – who are talented athletes and are among the best in their respective events in conference history – made some kind of public announcement about this kind of heartbreak.

Princeton alum Russell Dinkins took a leap of faith last year in his Olympic training efforts as he traveled to Iten, Kenya for four months to train with other Olympic hopefuls, hoping to make the cut for Team USA in the 800m.  But a late start due to injuries only gave Russell around a month and a half to get a qualifying mark for the Trials (1:46.00 for the 800m, or the top 32 entries to make sure the field is filled).  He raced seven times since May 22nd (1:55) – the final race being at USATF Club Nationals last Saturday.  He fell just short by 0.33 seconds, despite the fact he ran a new lifetime best of 1:47.47 on Saturday.  He reflected on his whole training experience in the video above after competing on Saturday (EDITOR NOTE – I videoed Russell’s original video on facebook because it could not embed within this website properly. No editing was done to the video but you can view it in its original setting here).

Cornell alumna Rachel Sorna also had a late start in qualifying due to injury as she had a bad ankle sprain from landing in a steeplechase water pit during a race.  In a blog post she published earlier this week, she laid out the timeline of her recent athletic history, where she even detailed the mental hurdles she needed to overcome in order to get back on the track.  Once she was back on the track, she needed to battle Mother Nature as bad weather hampered her performances.  In the end, she missed the cutoff by 10 seconds for the steeplechase.  Sure, she was disappointed in not making it but she knew she would have felt worse if she never tried in the first place:

“I also know that the disappointment I am feeling now does not compare to the disappointment I know I would be feeling had I not taken the shot and gone out there. I have enough regrets for things I did or didn’t do during my time running for Cornell, so when the opportunity to compete in a high performance race arose, despite how much it was going to cost or how tricky the scheduling and travel was going to be, I took advantage of it. I owed it to myself to go there and run that race, to give myself a chance to do something really great.”

But making the Olympic Trials cut is hard for previous members of Team USA.  Brown alum Craig Kinsley competed in the 2012 London Games in the javelin throw and hoped to be a two-time Olympian.  Earlier this year, he announced that this would be his last year competing as a professional athlete and he hoped to end it on a high note by making it to Rio.  Unfortunately, his body would not fully recover from injuries and he announced on facebook yesterday that he has retired from competing BUT he will still go to Rio as a coach:

“Friends and family, thank you for the tremendous support over the course of my athletic career! It has been a hell of a ride, but alas, my journey to compete at my second Olympics is over. I have been dealing with an injured elbow for over 2 years and it has finally had enough. It’s no longer fun to throw when every rep produces intense pain. I am still very much involved in track and field and will be coaching my training partner of 4 years, Sean Furey at the trials. We will be doing our absolute best to get him to Rio, and if he goes, then I will attend my first Olympic games as a coach! A big thanks to anyone who donated to me through gofundme this year, you should be refunded in full shortly!”

Sean Furey is a Dartmouth alum who was also a 2012 Olympian with Kinsley.  Furey has qualified for the Trials that begin later this week.

Upon reading these announcements, it is true that it is better to have dreamed and tried than to have dreamed and never tried at all.

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