Walking around the stadium an hour before the 2004 Women's 20K Olympic Race Walking trials, you could feel the tension in the air. Joanne Dow was the only competitor with the A-Standard needed to send more than one person to the Olympic Games. Short of another competitor walking the A-Standard at the trials or within the next few weeks, Joanne's qualifying time would be for not. Therefore, any woman who won the trials and had a B-standard time would be the sole woman representative for U.S. race walking.
This left the door wide open for either Michelle Rohl or Teresa Vail to knock Joanne Dow from her dream of competing at the Olympics. Would the trio walk an A-standard pace and try to get all three of the top women in America qualified, or would they walk a tactical race where each woman vied for the sole spot. If the went out slow, clearly the next group of walkers would gain hope that they could dethrone the top walkers and move into the sole spot. Bobbi Jo Chapman, Amber Antonia, Susan Armenta, and Sam Cohen are all capable, on a good day, of popping the B-standard, so needless to say it was an intense morning.
Finally the tension was cut with the sound of the gun signaling to all the ordeal of deciding who would compete for the U.S. would soon be over.
As expected our favored trio went out hard from the gun. Much like in many races this season, the trip around the track/loop started on A-standard pace.
Walking smart and not getting sucked in by the pace, the second group was led by cover girl Susan Armenta who was followed by Bobbi Jo Chapman.
A third pack was formed by Jolene Moore, Deb Huberty, Amber Antonia, and Sam Cohen. They were followed closely by Carolyn Kealty, Margaret Ditchburn, Anne Favolise, Pam Murkowski, and Ali Bahr.