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Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

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June 28, 2008 8:25 PM

Olympic Trials: Taking Their Best Shot.

Posted by Rod Mar

The shot put.

As a measure of strength and coordination, it's a pretty fair test.

How far can you heave a 16lb ball?

If you want to win a medal in the Olympics, better make sure you can throw it at least 70 feet.

I took notice of the shot-putters when they entered Hayward Field for their event. Runners were getting ready for a heat of the women's 800 meters when the shot-putters, led by 315 lb. Reese Hoffa began to cross the track toward the infield. Some poor volunteer tried to stop him as there were runners about to start a race, but Hoffa laughed him off and walked right through. He was followed by the other two members of the "Big Three" -- Hoffa, Christian Cantwell (300 lbs), and Andy Nelson (255 lbs) and the rest of the behemoths.

Like the line of elephants at the circus, they just marched right through the line of lean and lithe women runners, right past the poor overmatched volunteer.

Shot put was fun to shoot.

Adam Nelson starts his motion during the shot put finals. One of the "Big Three" (so known because they are the current top three shot putters in the world), Nelson qualified with a throw of 20.89 meters.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 400, 1/2000th sec.,f2.8)

Shot putter Dan Taylor lets out a yell after a throw in the men's finals. Despite the effort, he finished fourth and did not qualify for Beijing.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 400, 1/2000th sec.,f2.8)

Reese Hoffa continued his reign as the Sultan of Shot, winning the event with a throw of 22.10 meters, and let the crowd know he liked his result.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 400, 1/2000th sec.,f2.8)

Back on the track, 800m runner Jebreh Harris appeared to have blood flowing from her leg as she got set in the blocks for the semifinals.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 250, 1/5000th sec.,f2.8)

The track at Hayward Field is reflected in the sunglasses of 800m runner Jennifer Grossarth after the semifinal heats.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 250, 1/5000th sec.,f2.8)

Near the end of the day, some final heats were run, deciding what athletes would get the chance to compete in the Beijing Olympics. This made for some really nice emotion. Unlike regular season baseball or football games, winning or losing at the Trials means either shot at a gold medal or years of work seemingly lost.

The heptathlon came down to the final event, the 800 meters. Diana Pickler had to finish within 1.5 seconds of her closest rival to make the team, and she did just that.

First and second place went to Jacquelyn Johnson and Hyleas Fountain, who hugged after the finish line.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 250, 1/2000th sec.,f2.8)

Pickler finished third to earn the Olympic berth, and seemed like she still couldn't believe the scoreboard as she looked up during a group hug with Johnson and Fountain.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 250, 1/2000th sec.,f2.8)

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