TERRE HAUTE —
Some athletes signed up for the Pan American Games after the USATF then withdrew their names, deciding to race in Europe.
“Normally we would have wiggle room to sign up another athlete, but we had to have our entry in to the Brazilian Federation two days after the USATF Championships,” McNichols said. “We could have gone down to our 13th hurdler and still had a medal winner.”
David Payne, a former standout at the University of Cincinnati, will compete as the eighth-ranked hurdler in the world in the 110s, but he’ll have his hands full against Cuban Dayron Robles, who beat the American twice in a week earlier this month. Anwar Moore, ranked ninth in the world, was the other American picked for the team in the 110s, according to a release on USATF.org.
According to the same release, Kenneth Ferguson (ranked 10th by IAAF) would have been a top contender in the 400 hurdles. Instead, the U.S. is represented by only Laron Bennett (ranked 37th).
“We’re so deep in the hurdles [in the United States] that those guys are high demand in Europe making money,” McNichols said adding that the USATF should find a solution to the problem. “The USATF needs to be able to strong arm in this. If an athlete pulls out on them, then that athlete would lose [financial] support from them.”
Regardless, McNichols still has a full team of sprinters to put his attention to, in addition to assisting with relay teams.
As much as McNichols is looking forward to the competition, he’s also hoping to find time to enjoy the cultural experience of being in a village of 5,662 athletes from 42 countries.
McNichols has visited Bogota, Columbia, with his son Matt, but he has never visited the beaches of Rio.