Opening ceremony to highlight T&F greats from past Trials

EUGENE, Ore. – Here’s some friendly advice for all those holding tickets to the first day of competition at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field on Friday, July 1 at historic Hayward Field.

Don’t be late!

Before the athletes begin chasing their Olympic dreams, spectators will be treated to a spectacular Opening Ceremony in which we celebrate the most memorable moments from previous editions of the U.S. Olympic Trials in TrackTown USA.

The in-stadium presentation begins at 3 p.m. and it will feature a parade of some of the greatest U.S. track and field stars the sport has ever known, video highlights of their performances at the 1972, ’76 and ’80 Trials, and a special gold medal presentation to an Olympian who was denied his rightful place atop the awards podium.

Every parade needs a Grand Marshall, of course, and event organizers couldn’t have picked a better one than former University of Oregon standout Otis Davis, who became the Ducks’ first Olympic gold medalist in track and field when he won gold in the 400 meters and 4×400-meter relay at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Most people forget that the first “Trials” competition at Hayward Field actually took place in 1960 with the U.S. decathlon championships. We’ll recognize that long forgotten meet in which Rafer Johnson and guest competitor C.K. Yang of Taiwan – Johnson’s teammate at UCLA – each broke the existing world record after just nine events.

At this point, we’ll pay homage to 23 past track and field greats with a parade of athletes representing memorable moments of the 1972, ’76 and ’80 U.S. Olympic Trials, complete with video highlights. It will be a veritable who’s who of American track and field icons, including Bob Seagren, Dave Wottle, Frank Shorter, Kate Schmidt, Francie Larrieu Smith, Mac Wilkins, Chandra Chesseborough, Henry Marsh, Madeline Manning-Mims, Leanne Warren and many more.

Finally, after a stirring video package of amazing performances from the most recent Trials in 2008 and ’12, we’ll pay tribute to an Olympic champion with a gold medal presentation that is long overdue.

And that’s just the Opening Ceremony!

As the Trials competition unfolds from July 1-10, there will be special recognition of other Heritage Athletes each day at Hayward Field – Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Jim Ryun, Marty Liquori, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Joanna Hayes, Mike Conley, Kenny Harrison, Al Joyner and others. You won’t want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of American sports heroes.

Don’t forget.

Good seats are still available throughout most of the stadium. You can purchase tickets online at TrackTown16.com, by phoning 1-800-WEBFOOT (1-800-932-3668), or in person at the University of Oregon Athletics ticket office at Autzen Stadium.

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