The U.S. Olympic team includes more than 75 athletes from the northwest. One of them is Minnesota transplant Ben Blankenship. He’ll be competing in the men’s’ 1,500 meter race later this month.
At the final event of the Olympic Track and Field Trials here last month Portland’s Matthew Centrowitz came in first in the 1,500 meter race. Robbie Andrews of Adidas, second. Ben Blankenship came in third. All three made the U.S. Olympic team.
Blankenship: “I’m super happy. I’m really looking forward for the opportunity to represent my country at Rio and excited for my team that everybody has put so much work into me and I’m glad I can finally give something back to them.”
Blankenship says he was disappointed with his performance at the trials.
Blankenship: “I made a lot of mistakes. Anytime you don’t go out and win or anytime you go out and make some faults there’s always a little bit of okay I could have done this better. I could have done that better.”
Blankenship says he started running track in high school in Minnesota as a way to stay out of trouble.
Blankenship: “It was something that gave me some drive and gave me something really to do. And I like having some success on a bigger stage and as long as I could keep being competitive, I wanted to stay in it.”
Blankenship moved to Eugene 4 years ago to train with coach Mark Rowland and the Oregon Track Club. His Nike sponsorship allows him to train full time. He says, with the Olympics looming, that’s pretty much all that’s on his mind.
Blankenship: “Trying to keep everything as routine as possible. It’s the last 2 years that have gotten me here. So I’m not changing too much going into Rio. Just trying to keep working hard and keep doing everything I’ve done until this point.”
Blankenship says he likes to go out of town and run on logging roads.
Blankenship: “There’s a couple really good dirt roads, secret dirt roads, around the area that I do love to train on. I think Oregon is one of the best places to train. It’s easy to train here. It’s easy to focus here and it’s easy to get ready for championships so hopefully going into Rio it’ll be a really good build-up.”
Ben Blankenship won’t participate in the Olympics opening ceremonies Friday. His first race in Rio is on August 16th.
[I’m Rachael McDonald in Eugene.]