On January 29th USA Track & Field, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and LA MARATHON LLC announced that Los Angeles had been awarded the bid to host the joint 2016 Men’s and Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials. Today, the blog received the following statement from USATF Men’s Long Distance Running Committee chairman Edwardo Torres.
On behalf of the Men’s LDR committee we would like to congratulate Los Angeles on winning the bid for the 2016 Olympic trials. There was a lot of confusion leading up to this decision. The fact that both Houston and Los Angeles made strong bids made it a tough decision.
As a committee, both men’s and women’s LDR based their decision on what was best for the athlete. At the annual meeting in December 2013 both LDR committees came to the conclusion that Houston had the upper hand, and therefore we suggested to the USATF board that Houston should be awarded the trials. We came to our decision based on two advantages we believe that Houston had.
The first was the date of the race. We believed that holding the race in January would allow people who missed the team to train for the track trials. (Both 2012 4th place finishers made the team in the 10k.) The other major factor for us was the $100k extra in athlete prize money offered in the Houston bid.
In the years since 2012 the earning opportunities for athletes have dried up. It is now harder than ever for an athlete to make it at the elite level. We could not with good conscience allow another $100k in prize money to leave the sport.
Since the annual meeting, Los Angeles changed their race date to be held in February. The request for LA to match athlete prize money was initially declined. With the athlete’s best interest at heart, the committee is still hoping for L.A. to match Houston’s offer. At the end of the day the race is about the athletes, and it’s unfair for them to forfeit $100k in prize money without a say in the decision. The athletes need and deserve that money more than the non-profit we serve does.
USATF Men’s LDR chair
In a follow up conversation Torres spoke highly of both bids — “L.A. will do a great job.” — but he maintained that he was speaking out because “my committee speaks for the athletes, and we knew what the difference in prize money was, and that alone was enough for our choice to be Houston”.
“Why not make all parties happy?” he continued. “For places 4 through 10 it would mean an extra $5000 in their pocket, which would make a big difference to help keep them in the sport to develop for the next Olympic cycle.”
And so it goes.