Track and field begins from London on Friday. Before we spend time analyzing and discussing those that will be competing, I thought we should look at the best athletes who won’t be competing for their country. Recently, Rich Perelman posted potential Olympic track and field team scores on his blog. I took this a step further and turned the countries into teams who are able to trade athletes who, for whatever reason, aren’t on their national teams. Using the six countries that Perelman predicts will be the top scorers (plus Canada), I tried to come up with each team’s greatest unused assets and their highest needs in order to maximize their point totals.
I excluded those that are not competing in the Olympics because they failed to meet the “A” standard, are injured, or are serving a drug suspension. I also considered alternates and relay pool runners off-limits.
What follows is complete non-sense, but I do think it will help you waste some time while you wait for Friday.
Best assets: Geoffrey Mutai (marathon), Patrick Makau (marathon), Paul Koech (steeplechase), Consesius Kipruto (steeplechase) Eliud Kipchoge (5,000/10,000), Caleb Ndiku (1500), Bethwell Birgen (1500), Abraham Rotich (800), Leonard Kosencha (800) Linet Masai (5,000/10,000) Mercy Cherono (5,000/10,000), Florence Kiplagat (10,000/marathon), Lucy Kabuu (marathon),
Biggest needs: Sprints and field events, men’s 4 x 400
Best assets: Haile Gebrselassie (marathon), Tsegaye Kebede (marathon), Bezunesh Bekele (marathon), Firehiwot Dado (marathon), Imane Merga (5,000/10,000), Sileshi Sihine (5,000/10,000)
Biggest needs: Sprints, mid-distance, field events
Best assets: Perdita Felicien (100 hurdles), Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (100 hurdles)
Biggest needs: Everything but women’s 100 hurdles
Best assets: Jason Young (200), Nickel Ashmeade (200), Lerone Clarke (100), Dwight Thomas (110 hurdles), Aleen Bailey (100/200)
Biggest needs: Distance, field events, men’s/women’s 4 x 400
Best assets: Ginnie Crawford (100 hurdles), Kristi Castlin (110 hurdles), David Oliver (110 hurdles), Dexter Faulk (110 hurdles), Bershawn Jackson (400 hurdles), Ashley Spencer (400), Adam Nelson (shot put), Mike Rodgers (100), Kimberlyn Duncan (200), Mike Berry (400), Gil Roberts (400)
Biggest needs: Mid-distance, distance, assorted field events
Best assets: Sergey Litvinov Jr. (hammer throw), Darya Klishina (long jump), Aleksey Dmitrik (high jump), Kseniya Ustalova (400), Ekaterina Kostetskaya (800), Elena Arzhakova (800), Elenea Soboleva (1500) Svetlana Podosenova (1500), Ekaterina Kayukova (triple jump)
Biggest needs: Men’s events, 100/200, distance events
Best assets: Jenny Meadows (800), Emma Jackson (800)
Biggest needs: Sprints
And now for the mock trades……
Bershawn Jackson, USA-> Sergey Litvinov Jr., Russia
Kimberlyn Duncan, USA-> Ekaterina Kayukova, Russia
Russia is very weak in the men’s running events. In the field, they do have two things that the United States could use to fill out their roster: a men’s hammer thrower and a women’s triple jumper. The Americans have only one women’s triple jump qualifier and two men’s hammer throwers. Russia left off Sergey Litvinov Jr. who Martin Bingisser tells me throws the hammer very far. They also have triple jumper Ekaterina Kayukova. For our first trade, the US sends one time medal favorite Bershawn Jackson to Russia for Litvinov and they swap Kayukova with Kimberlyn Duncan, giving Russia a sprint threat and a useful member for their 4 x 100 relay team.
Ginnie Crawford and Kristi Castlin, USA -> Linet Masai and Caleb Ndiku, Kenya
The United States women have a medal threat (or at least a top 8 threat) at every track event except the 5,000 and 10,000. In order to add more strength to their squad they part with two top 100-meter hurdlers to get Masai. Ndiku could help to break out a Kenyan sweep in the men’s 1500.
Perdita Felicien, Canada-> Kseniya Ustalova, Russia
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, Canada -> Bezunesh Bekele, Ethiopia
Canada doesn’t have much. Lopes-Schliep and Felicien have both won medals at major championships and missed the team in somewhat fluky occurrences. Russia needs someone to break up the American points in the high hurdles and Ethiopia gets a medal threat in exchange for Bekele.
Lerone Clarke, Jamaica -> Jenny Meadows, Emma Jackson, Great Britain
Great Britain has medal hopes in many events, but not much depth. Their only two assets are in the women’s 800, where their federation decided to take their trials champion, rather than three runners with the “A” standard. By acquiring the Lerone Clarke they get a potential finalist in the glamour event of their home games, and they also bolster their 4 x 100 relay chances.
David Oliver and Dexter Faulk, USA -> Paul Koech, Kenya
David Oliver was probably the biggest name not to make the American team. After the emergence of Evan Jager, the United States is looking to put a dent in the Kenyan men’s steeplechase dominance. What better way to do it than to acquire Koech, who would probably be the favorite if he were in this race? The US also throws in Dexter Faulk, another potential hurdle finalist, to make the deal fair.
Dexter Faulk, Kenya-> Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopia
They wouldn’t actually use him in the Olympics, but they might trade for him just to screw with Ethiopia.
Aleen Baily, Jamaica-> Mercy Cherono, Kenya
Kenya has no sprint hopes. Jamaica has nothing in the distances. Perfect match.
Darya Klishna and Alexsey Dmitrik, Russia -> Patrick Makau, Kenya
It doesn’t seem right that the world-record holder in the marathon won’t be in the games. Darya Klishna and Alexsey Dmitrik are solid medal hopes in the women’s long jump and men’s high jump.
Tsegay Kebede, Ethiopia-> Mike Berry and Gil Roberts, USA
The uber-consistent Kebede fell victim to Ethiopian selectors obsession with fast times. He would be a great pick-up for the United States who is a little thin in the marathon. In exchange, the US sends two top-fifteen, 400-meter runners.
Gil Roberts and Mike Berry, Ethiopia-> Nickel Ashmeade, Jamaica
Ethiopia then flips Roberts and Berry to Jamaica for Nickel Ashmeade, who is currently sixth in the world this year. Jamaica is looking to bulk up their 4 x 400 relay to take a run at the surprisingly vulnerable US team.
Mike Berry, Jason Young, Jamaica-> Geoffrey Mutai, Kenya
The anonymous Jason Young has enormous value after running 19.86 in the 200 two weeks ago in Luzern. Only Blake and Bolt have run faster this year. Kenya will be looking for sprinters, especially long sprinters, to help keep them in contention in the 4 x 400 relay. Young and Berry should be enough to get Kenya to part with 2011 Boston and New York City Marathon champion, Geoffrey Mutai.
Ashley Spencer, USA-> Firehiwot Dado, Ethiopia
Spencer opted out of the US Olympic Trials and went on to run 50.50 at the World Junior Championships. Dado could fill the gap for an apparently injured Desiree Davila.
Tsegay Kebede and Paul Koech now run for the US, Jamaica obtained Geoffrey Mutai, Kenya picked up Ginnie Crawford and David Oliver, Ethiopia acquired Nickel Ashmeade and Russia has Bershawn Jackson and Kimberlyn Duncan. Sounds about right.