2016 Relays Athletes Make Olympic History

first_img Matthew Centrowitz, became the first American gold medalist in the men’s 1,500 meters since 1908. Centrowitz was the 2015 Grand Blue Mile Champion and also competed inside Drake Stadium. Christian Taylor, the reigning Olympic and Worlds triple jump gold medalist and 2013 Drake Relays champion, claimed another gold in the triple jump. Ruth Beitia, a 2013 Relays champion and regular at the Blue Oval won Spain’s first gold medal in the high jump. When Americans Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin swept the medals in the women’s 100-meter hurdles, it marked the first time a nation had accomplished this near impossible feat. All three competed at the 2016 Relays with Castlin finishing second, Rollins third and Ali fourth. Additionally five of the top six finishers in the Olympic final raced on the Blue Oval in 2016. Omar McLeod, the 2016 Relays champion in the 110-meter hurdles and the 2015 Relays Most Outstanding Performer as a collegian, became Jamaica’s first gold medalist in the 110-meter hurdles. Michelle Carter was the first 2016 Relays Olympic medalist of the games and her gold medal in the women’s shot put marked the first American gold medal in the event and the first American medal since 1960.  Going into the final round, Carter was in second and claimed the gold medal with her last throw beating the two-time reigning gold medalist, Valerie Adams of New Zealand. Jenny Simpson, the 2016 Relays 1,500 meter champion and favorite of the Drake Stadium crowd, won the first medal by an American in the women’s 1,500 meters with her bronze medal in the event. Katerina Stefanidi, who has competed in the last two Relays and the Court Avenue and Capital Square Vault competitions, became the first Greek gold medalist in the event. She also won an NCAA Championship in 2012 at Drake Stadium. Relays competitors from previous seasons also made history just a few years after competing on the Blue oval.  The months leading up to the 2016 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee featured the unveiling of numerous ‘Rio Olympic Games Preview’ events assembled by Brian Brown, the Franklin ‘Pitch’ Johnson Director of the Drake Relays. Designed to capture the excitement of an Olympic year, Brown set out to assemble some of the top fields in the world to compete on the Drake Relays’ iconic Blue Oval.But even Brown, in his final year at the helm of the Relays, could not have predicted the degree to which those events would exceed even his own expectation and hype. The ‘Rio Olympic Games Previews’ truly lived up to their name and provided Drake Relays fans with the first opportunity to witness 20 future Olympic medalists compete up close and personal before showcasing their talent to the world in Rio.All told, 62 athletes that competed at the 2016 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee would go on to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with 20 of them earning medals in their respective events, including 10 gold medalists. Both of those impressive totals would rank second on the track and field medal table if those athletes were competing as an independent nation. Only the USA’s impressive medal haul exceeded that of athletes from the 2016 Relays. The 10 gold medals earned by 2016 Relays athletes was only three fewer than the number earned by the entire American team. More than half of the USA’s 13 gold medals came from athletes that were at the 2016 Relays.Many of those athletes are likely to return to Drake Stadium in 2017 for the 108th running of the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee on April 26-29. As always, Relays fans will have the thrill of cheering on reigning Olympic medalists while watching the next generation of Olympic medalists compete on the Blue Oval.In addition to the prestige of capturing an Olympic medal, many of the athletes from the 2016 Relays also made history with their medal winning performances including these highlights. Below are athletes from the 2016 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee that medaled at the 2016 Rio Olympic GamesGold MedalistsMichelle Carter – USA – Shot PutDerek Drouin – Canada – High JumpOmar McLeod – Jamaica – 110mHBrianna Rollins – USA – 100mHKerron Clement – USA – 400mHDalilah Muhammed – USA – 400mHKaterina Stefanidi – Greece – Pole VaultMorolake Akinosun – USA – 4x100m RelayCourtney Okolo – USA – 4x400m RelayLaShawn Merritt – USA – 4x400m RelayDavid Verburg – USA – 4x400m RelaySilver MedalistsKirani James – Grenada – 400mWill Claye – USA – Triple JumpBrittney Reese – USA – Long JumpNia Ali – USA – 100mHSandi Morris – USA – Pole VaultBronze MedalistsLaShawn Merritt – USA – 400mSam Kendricks – USA – Pole VaultClayton Murphy – USA – 800mJenny Simpson – USA – 1,500mKristi Castlin – USA – 100mHPrint Friendly Versionlast_img read more