Training facility for athletics world championships

EUGENE – Before athletes make their grand entrance at Hayward Field for the IAAF World Championships, many spent a large chunk of their time training just 4 miles down the road at Lane Community College.

Lane served as the official practice facility for all practice except hammer and discus.

As athletes came and went from around the world, Bill Steyer and Dan West were an integral part of their experience.

“On a personal level, I’m honored to lead this facility and train here as well,” said Steyer, who was named head athletics coach in 2019.

Steyer and West, the leader of the pole vault, were tasked with preparing the facility each day for the morning and afternoon sessions, which culminated over several days with over 400 athletes.

“Our job is primarily to offer the athletes a really good experience,” said Steyer during a training session on Thursday afternoon. “A lot of them come here to refine their training or to sharpen up for the running events, so we want them to be able to attend some quality sessions.”

Athletes who train at the Titans track facility have access to the same Olympic-configured track as Hayward Field and other world-class tracks.

Nestled in the so-called epicenter of Track Town, USA, Lane is no stranger to producing elite track and field athletes or hosting world events.

The two-tone blue running track was part of a 2008 borrowing updated with International Association of Athletics Federations requirements. It has since served as the official training ground for the USA Olympic Trials (2012, 2016 and 2021), the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships and the 2022 IAAF World Athletics Championships.

West, who completed his 28th season with the Titan program this spring, has coached the lane vaulters to 17 school records from 11 different athletes and 10 Northwest Athletic Conference champions.

The Lane vaulters have set nine school records from seven different athletes and 16 NWAC champions. Both women and men last won titles in 2022.

While the LCC’s student-athletes are away for the summer, West has been kept quite busy.

“I hung out with the Polish vaulters a bit,” West said. “Piotr Lisek was a top vaulter, that was pretty exciting.

“I used to work for javelins for track equipment in Oregon, so I met (German two-time Olympic gold medalist) Uwe Hohn, who threw 344 feet, which changed the whole event and how the javelin was redesigned in the 80’s. I saw some of the American coaches too.”

In the 12-hour days since the World Athletics practice facility opened, Steyer and West have taken in just about everything imaginable – from sprinters to relays, javelin throwers and pole vaulters.

“I had this realization about three or four days ago,” Steyer said. “During one of our highlights I was trying to see all the elite athletes from different events from all different countries speaking their languages ​​and I just thought how lucky we are here in Eugene to have the opportunity to host this and to be a part of it.”

From a program perspective, Steyer said hosting the event was a great way to let other athletes considering attending see and encourage the facilities and vibe.

“If you want to come to Lane, we’re not just your typical junior college with a career,” Steyer said. “We’re in Track Town and we have one of the best facilities in the state. They’re immersed in this energy of athletics and historic long-distance running because of Hayward Field and everything that’s going on.”

Steyer said he had numerous discussions leading up to the World Championships, but the most outstanding ones were with his own athletes.

“They could reach the same level,” said Steyer. “Anything is possible, and these athletes aren’t doing it for talent alone, because there’s a lot of talent out there. It takes drive, determination and motivation day after day.

“And so I can see that it’s not athletic, it extends to all other aspects of life.”

Edith Noriega is a sports reporter for the Statesman Journal. You can reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Noriega_Edith.

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