Coach's Diary: Caryl Smith Gilbert at the Summer Olympics

Aug. 5, 2012

UCF track and field head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert has trained two of this year's participants in the Olympic Games: Three-time US Olympian DeeDee Trotter and current Knight/Antiguan Olympian Afia Charles. Smith Gilbert traveled to London and what follows is the third entry of her account of the sites and sounds she has experienced so far at the Olympic Village, the practice facilities and around town.

By Caryl Smith Gilbert

Sunday, August 5, 2012
I couldn't sleep last night in anticipation of tonight. I realize in my last entry I mentioned the Olympic Games being about culture and unity, but my constant pursuit of excellence is innate. I can't help it... For me, today the Olympic Games are about 100 percent GOLD! Last night's women's 400m semi-final was very important because it determined what lanes were drawn for tonight's final. Lane draws in IAAF championships are not exactly the same as lane draws in US Championships and NCAA Championships. In a nutshell, the first-fastest second-place automatic qualifier plus the three heat winners go into a four-way "preferred" lane draw. On this track those lanes are 4,5,6 and 7. The other two second-place automatic qualifiers from the three heats plus the two other qualifiers go into a separate draw for lanes 2,3, 8 and 9. In the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the qualifying procedure was exactly the same and DeeDee was the second-fastest second-place qualifier. As luck would have it, when she went into the lower draw she drew lane 1!

I did not want history to repeat itself in London so I reminded her of the qualifying procedure, very clearly, before I left the warm-up track. She ran a great race against two formidable opponents who have run faster than her so far this season. This time around, however, she was the FASTEST second-place auto qualifier so she ended up drawing lane 4 for the final. She also ran a season-best time of 49.87 behind the Russian (Antonina Krivoshapka) who has the fastest time in the world in 2012. This an excellent draw for DeeDee and this race is going to be very fast. She has trained so hard and been so disciplined and sacrificed so much that I expect she will do something great. This is the moment we've been training for... At 21:10 tonight a culmination of speed, endurance, strength, power, nutrition, sacrifice, confidence and faith will all come together at the same moment -- it has already been written.