Both Amber Delpino and Dayana Octavien are disappointed after not making the finals at the U.S. Olympic trials in Sacramento, but time off in California might help ease the pain.
Now the two former USF athletes, who completed their final years of eligibility this year, get to be fans at the trials, which USF track and field coach Greg Thiel said see some of the best competition in the World.
“This is a great experience,” Thiel said. “Plus, it’s a reward for all the things they’ve done for us over the years, and I’d hate to send them home when they could experience this.”
The makeup of the men’s and women’s U.S. Olympic teams for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece is determined by the trials. All of the big names in American track and field are there.
Thiel said just being at the trials would help both athletes improve.
“This is a chance to be here, be around these people and get this experience so that next year and the next years when they’re in these same formats the results will be better,” he said.
Both Delpino and Octavien are 22 years old. Most of the girls they competed against are in their mid-to-late 20s, “so their time has yet to come,” said Thiel. “If they choose to stay with it they could be back here with better results.”
Next year Delpino will be a graduate assistant for the USF track and field team and Octavien will remain in Tampa and train at USF.
After the disappointment of not making finals, Delpino said Thiel told her to just look on, see where she was and enjoy it.
“I mean, I’m excited. We’re at the Olympic trials, and for the rest of the week, we just get to sit here and watch it,” she said.
“I feel really lucky that Greg really wants us to enjoy this. Greg really wants us to take in how big of a meet this is and how exciting it is. We’re going to sit here every day and watch the track meet and have fun in California, and I think that that’s making this experience even better.”
Teammate Jimmy Baxter travels to Sacramento on Tuesday and will have Octavien and Delpino cheering him on.