By Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse and U.S. News Agency / Asian
US Olympic athletics coaches Andrew Valmon and Amy Deem said Tuesday that they like the chances of the American squad meeting its goal of capturing at least 30 medals at the London Olympics.
On a rest day at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials, US men’s Olympic coach Valmon and women’s Olympic coach Deem expressed confidence in those who have already qualified and optimism about those to come later this week.
“There is a lot of opportunity to get those 30 medals,” Valmon said.
The 30-medal goal for London was set by former USA Track and Field chief executive Doug Logan and backed by new chief executive Max Siegel, who took over last month.
Americans claimed 23 medals from athletics at Beijing with seven golds, nine silvers and seven bronzes.
But the men produced only 14 medals, the second-fewest by US men at an Olympics after 12 in 2000, and just four golds, the fewest of any Olympics.
“We’re going to be great,” Valmon said. “We’re going to have a strong team. We’re excited.”
US women are coming off six gold medals at last year’s world championships in South Korea, a total surpassed by a US women’s lineup at a world or Olympic meet only in 1984 with seven Olympic gold medals on home soil in Los Angeles.
“Our goal is always to bring home as many medals as we can. We are on track to do that,” Deem said. “I think we have an opportunity to bring home a lot of medals.”
“The women have got a really strong team. We’re excited with who we have on the team. We have a great group of women who have been there. I think that will help us in the medal count. I’m excited about where we are.”
Reigning women’s 100m world champion Carmelita Jeter, reigning 100m hurdles Olympic champion Dawn Harper and reigning Olympic discus champion Stephanie Brown Trafton are among those qualified on the women’s side.
The US men’s team includes 2004 Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin, former world 100m champion Tyson Gay, reigning world high jump champion Jesse Williams and reigning Olympic 400m champion LaShawn Merritt.
Merritt put himself atop the 2012 world best list with his 400 trials triumph in 44.12 but Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum now stand among the year’s eight best performers with the Olympics a month away.
“The biggest thing reaching sub-45 seconds in the 400,” Valmon said. “Put that together with what we have in the 200 and we are going to have some strong events.”
That includes a potential podium sweep by reigning world indoor champion Ryan Whiting and former world outdoor champs Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell in the shot put and the decathlon world record effort of Ashton Eaton, who will be joined in London by reigning world champion Trey Hardee.
But the Americans failed to medal in the 4×100 at Beijing after botching an exchange. Valmon said this year’s relay runners “realize the sense of urgency. We will learn from the past going forward.”
Deem is the women’s coach at the University of Miami and guided the 2007 US women’s world championship squad. Valmont, a 1988 and 1992 Olympic champion in the 4×400 relays, coaches at the University of Maryland. He assisted on the 2009 worlds and 2010 indoor words US coaching staffs.
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