Pros come out in full force for Texas Relays
April 11, 2011
Grant Abston, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas -- A collection of professional athletes returned to compete in the 84th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays over the weekend, a group that has combined to win nine Olympic gold medals and 17 World Championship titles.
The Texas Relays not only provide a good early-season test for the athletes, the overall experience is something each athlete enjoys being a part of.
"It's great," said Natasha Hastings who competed for team Hi Performance `A'. "The crowd is always great. Texas is a state where track and field is very well accepted. Across the country it's hard to get the sort of coverage and turnout that you can get at the Texas Relays so it's always great to come and run in front of a great crowd."
Hastings, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics as a member of the 4x400 meter relay team, ran the second leg on Hi Performance `A's 4x400 meter relay team which finished first in a time of 3:32.11.
"There's always good competition and it's just a great meet," Hastings said.
For Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner, the environment surrounding the track is an advantage of competing in the Texas Relays. Wariner won gold medals in the 400 meters and 4x400 meter relay at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics before placing first in the 4x400 meter relay and second in the 400 meters at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Wariner ran the anchor leg in the 4x400 meter relay for team Adidas who placed first with a time of 3:04.38.
"[I enjoy] the fans and the atmosphere," said Wariner, who ran track at Arlington Lamar High School before attending Baylor University. "Today was just for practice, really. We didn't know where anyone was at in shape wise. We ran pretty well so that's all that matters."
For Angelo Taylor, it was his first time competing at the Texas Relays and the experience will bring him back.
"This is my first time out here," Taylor said. "The crowd stands [out] and it's a nice track environment. The whole time the last two days, walking around, a lot of people have been coming up and wanting us to sign autographs so they really have a great appreciation of the sport so it definitely won't be my last time coming."
Running for team Georgia Boys, Taylor ran the second leg in the 4x100 meter relay to help them place third in a time of 39.75. An Olympian, Taylor placed first in the 4x400 meter hurdles at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and won gold in both the 400 meter hurdles and 4x400 meter relay at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
"We didn't really get a chance to practice but it was fun," Taylor said. "That's what it's all about. The Relays are all about fun and we have a long season ahead of us but this way we kick it off and have some fun."
In addition to the strong competition, the athletes enjoyed getting a chance to compete in an environment that features athletes ranging from high school all the way to professional.
"It gives them an opportunity to see us and see how we do things and it gives them an opportunity to show us what they can do, "Wariner said.
"I think it's great," echoed Hastings. "Being someone who started as early as middle school, I think it's great to get out here and be able to perform and compete with people that you're pretty much aspiring to be so to be out here and experience that with them. I think that's great."