Day three of the U.S. Track and Field Championships was less what about happened on the track than who didn’t show up.
Olympic champions Allyson Felix and LaShawn Merritt both withdrew from their respective events, Felix in the 100 meters and Merritt in the 400 meters. Neither disclosed a reason for their withdrawals.
Earlier in the day, seven-time NCAA champion Abbey D’Agostino, who was set to make her professional debut for new sponsor New Balance, pulled out of the women’s 5000 meters citing fatigue from a long collegiate season, her coach Mark Coogan told LetsRun.com.
World Indoor champion Chanelle Price posted a statement on Instagram indicating her withdrawal prior to the 800 meter semifinals.
“I have to take care of my body and make sure I’m ready to roll for the remainder of the season,” Price said.
Price was later seen walking around Hornet Stadium with a protective boot on her foot.
Nike Oregon Project teammates Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay both passed on the 5000 meter finals Friday after racing the 10,000 meters a day earlier.
These absences augmented those of Justin Gatlin, Matt Centrowitz, and Ben True, who chose to skip the competition to focus on racing in Europe and outline a greater challenge of a U.S. championship meet in a non-Olympic or World Championship season.
Without a U.S. team to qualify for, many top athletes had no incentive to run in Sacramento. Others may have only participated due to contract stipulations with sponsors.
It’s hard to blame those who decided to skip the meet. Races in overseas offer appearance fees, better prize money, and ideal conditions for fast times.
Chris Solinsky famously skipped USA’s in 2010 prior to his stellar summer of racing in Europe where he broke 13 minutes in the 5000 meters three times.
So what do we get? Saturday and Sunday competitions devoid of many of the sport’s biggest stars.