Renee Washington

On the start line now: 11 years, big upside

On the start line now: 11 years, big upside

LONDON — Somewhere, some 8- or 9- or 10-year-old kid is in her or his backyard, throwing or running or jumping and dreaming big dreams about maybe someday being, say, Allyson Felix, lithe and elegant, or Tianna Bartoletta, fast and focused, or maybe Christian Taylor or Ryan Crouser, guys who produce when the spotlight is brightest.

Never, perhaps, has track and field found itself at such an intriguing intersection, indeed one suddenly filled with potential.

There are the kids, and their dreams. There is the sport, with its many documented woes. There is also, genuinely, because of the award of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics, opportunity, and particularly in the United States.

31 medals (at least), all with class and character

image1.jpg

RIO de JANEIRO — For a generation, USA Track & Field has been chasing an elusive goal: 30 Olympic medals.

Here in Rio, in a run at Olympic Stadium that underscores the major up-pointing trend in the American track and field scene, the Americans have — through Saturday night — won 31. The men’s marathon is yet to come Sunday. Those due to run include Meg Keflezighi, silver medalist at Athens 2004 and winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon.

After the women's 4x4 relay

On Saturday night, Matthew Centrowitz Jr. won the men’s 1500m in a front-running, tactically savvy 3:50 flat — the first gold for the United States in that race since 1908. In the men’s 5000, Britain’s Mo Farah won, completing the 2012 and 2016 5000m and 10,000m distance double, the American Paul Chelimo crossing the line second. Moments later, Chelimo was disqualified for a lane infringement; then, later, in the evening, he was reinstated, the first U.S. men’s 5k medal since Tokyo 1964.

Those were medals 28 and 29.

Then came the women’s and men’s 4x400 relays. Both American teams won, medals 30 and 31, Allyson Felix anchoring to a sixth straight Olympic victory for the U.S. women, all four thereafter carrying around the stadium a banner that said, “Thank you, Rio.”

To read the rest of this column, please click through to NBCOlympics.com: http://bit.ly/2bcINiF

USATF chief executive, staff targeted in racially charged emails

Sport, as the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach likes to put it, is supposed to be all about building bridges, not walls. That is the theory. Real life can be considerably different. Sometimes, it’s still ugly, indeed — a signal, despite the fact a black man has twice been elected president of the United States, of how far we still have to go, and how difficult it can still be in our increasingly technology-dependent world to track those who would traffic in breathtakingly hateful invective.

Max Siegel is the African-American chief executive of USA Track & Field. He and Renee Washington, USATF’s chief operating officer, who is also African-American, are among the very few senior executives of color in the entire U.S. Olympic scene — a list that also includes Ron Galimore, chief operating officer at USA Gymnastics, and D.A. Abrams, chief diversity & inclusion officer at the U.S. Tennis Assn.

Siegel has been on the job for nearly four years.

Max Siegel, USATF chief executive // Photo USATF

In that time, USATF has recorded any number of significant accomplishments:

Just some: revenues have skyrocketed; a deal announced in recent months paves the way for members of the national team to make real money at being track and field athletes; and at the 2015 elections of the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, track's world governing body, USATF secured far more influence, including the election of Stephanie Hightower — also an African-American — to the ruling IAAF council.

In addition, at last month’s world indoor championships in Portland, Oregon, the U.S. team dominated, with 23 medals. Runner-up Ethiopia took five.

USATF helped stage not just those 2016 Portland world indoors but, as well, the 2014 IAAF world juniors in Eugene, Oregon. The 2021 world championships are set for Eugene, the first time the IAAF outdoor worlds will ever be in the United States.

In sum:

For years, it was the case in American Olympic circles that there were two superbly run national governing bodies, swimming and skiing, with gymnastics also deserving significant credit. In large measure, important numbers of the others arguably suffered from various degrees of dysfunction, with USATF perhaps the most dysfunctional.

Now USATF is doing big stuff, and poised to do even bigger and better.

Last October, Siegel opened his USATF email to see not just one but two reprehensible emails laced with threats and hate-filled invective, including the repeated use of the n-word.

One of the emails that went to Siegel

Another email sent to Siegel

Other racially charged emails went out that very same day to a range of USATF staff, black and white. Some included just a subject line. Some included more.

The sender seemed to know, meantime, which USATF staffers were — or might be — black, and which white.

“Paul Concert” and “paulgconcert@gmail.com,” the "sender" names, appear to be aliases.

An email that went to a black employee held the subject line, “All white team champions.”

To a white staffer: “Support white community programs.”

To a black staffer: “Nigger not a Youth.”

To another black staffer: “Niggers off the team.”

To yet another black staffer, two emails. One: “Fat slow loser nigger fired faggot.” The other: “All athletes must shower daily to be on the team.”

To two different white staffers, emails with subject lines and more.

On one, the subject line said, “Integration separates girls from boys.” The body: “Men from monkey niggers.”

On the other email, the subject line read, “Niggers can’t have money.” The body:

“Niggers can’t have showers

“Niggers can’t have electricity

“Niggers can’t have houses cars nor TV

“Niggers can’t have school

“Niggers can’t have buses

“Niggers can’t have churches

“Niggers can’t have sports”

Then an open line, and:

“2020 29 million monkey niggers dead in plague.”

Upon receiving this barrage of messages, USATF immediately launched an investigation and notified local law enforcement authorities in Indianapolis, where the federation is based.

"When you are called to an assignment, not all people agree with your vision or who you are," Siegel said. "As long as your motive is pure and you stay focused on the outcome, you can endure the difficult times. We will take the high road and not stoop to the ignorance of those who have hate-filled hearts."

“The whole episode was very disconcerting,” Washington said. “It is discouraging in today’s world that Max would receive an email that not only talks about his race, questions his last name and threatens to shoot him — or suggests he be shot.

“Really, for me,” she added, “the final straw was when it started going to our employees. And it started targeting employees.”

In the months since, the existence of the emails has been something of a closely held secret in certain track and Olympic circles. Even so, at the USATF annual meeting in December, though enhanced security for all USATF matters was in the air, there was no open discussion of the emails. Partly, this was owing to Siegel’s style; he tends to deflect public attention, good or otherwise. In addition, it was thought that staying quieter longer would give the investigation the advantage of time.

It’s now nearly six months since the emails arrived.

There have been no arrests. None appear imminent.

“We investigated initially,” Captain Rick Riddle, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department spokesman, said in a recent telephone interview, “and we did not develop any definitive subjects.

“As with any case, if suspect information is determined or even found by our victims or their organization, that information is passed through our detectives. We certainly can reopen cases and follow back up.”

At first, it was thought the emails might have been sent from servers in Oregon and California. A few days ago, the possibility emerged they might have been sent from Texas.

Should more leads develop, an arrest could lead to hate-crime charges, perhaps in federal court.

In January, Lloyd Crowe joined USATF as chief security officer. He had recently retired from the Indianapolis police department after 30 years, reaching the rank of assistant chief.

Crowe has a lot to look after in the next few months, including a range of potential security issues at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene and then working with others connected to the U.S. team on security matters at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Even so — these emails, so troubling, stand out as a priority.

“It’s unfortunate this has occurred,” Crowe said, adding a moment later, “If someone were making a direct specific threat … that would be worse. But this is still bad.”

Portland 2016: a track and field innovation lab

MedalPlaza2.jpg

PORTLAND, Ore. — For as long as anyone might remember, the mantra in track and field has been: well, that’s the way it has always been done. The 2016 world indoor championships, which concluded Sunday after a four-day stand at the Oregon Convention Center, offered a different take. Here, it was: let’s try something new.

“Innovation,” Max Siegel, the chief executive officer of USA Track & Field, “doesn’t happen by accident.”

It’s a function, he emphasized, of collaboration and resource: “You have to have a deliberate plan. You have to plan to be innovative, and then when you come up with an innovative idea you have to have an effective plan to execute the idea.”

The track was green. With the house lights down, the athletes entered down a ramp as their names were called out, one by one. The medals were, for the most part, awarded not onsite but at a downtown square that had been turned into a live-music and party venue. During the championships, a (mostly rock) soundtrack kept the beat to what was what on the track and in the field (special shout-out to the excellent DJ who threw Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” out there during the men’s masters’ 800).

The party at Pioneer Courthouse Square // photo TrackTown USA

Siegel at Thursday afternoon's opening news conference, at Pioneer Courthouse Square // Getty Images for IAAF

Did it all work? For sure not. A meet session should be two to two-and-a-half hours, max. Too often it went three-plus.

Did enough of it work, however, so that there’s reason, for the first time in a long time, to think that track and field at least stands a chance — again, a chance — of breaking out of its bubble and emerging over the next few years, particularly in the United States, as more than a niche sport?

For sure.

Even the highlight moment of the championships — Ashton Eaton bounding over in his warmups from the long jump pit to congratulate his wife, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, for winning the pentathlon — was, though thoroughly unscripted, at least allowed for.

Organizers timed it so that husband and wife would be on track at the same time.

“When you know you have these possibilities,” said Paul Hardy, competition director for track’s worldwide governing body, the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, “you start thinking about creating a timetable that allows for these special moments.”

He added a moment later, “That’s how we’re now looking at it — how we present the sport.”

He also said, “We need to introduce things. Hopefully they’ll work. If you don’t try anything, you never know if it works. If it doesn’t, you can try for the next time. if it does, hopefully we can improve it even more.”

Even friendly police

The vibe was so overwhelmingly positive in Portland that even the police proved smiling, friendly, accessible.

That, too, was by design.

“Community engagement,” as police nationwide like to call it, is “a huge priority for us right now,” Portland police Sgt. Greg Stewart, the department’s acting spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

“Nationally with the police — it really is a contentious time. Police and community relations are maybe not what they should be. The chief,” Larry O’Dea the city’s police chief for the past 16 months, “is really working to make sure that’s a focus for us.”

When the police are cool, anything’s possible. Even in track and field, right?

Some is just easy: the kiss-cam (or smile-cam, whatever), a staple at other major events? Why not?

But why not think really out of the box?

What about re-configuring the set-up so that, in the same way that fans sit court-side at an NBA game, they can sit immediately along the track?

At the Kentucky Derby, thousands of fans crowd the infield. It’s not because they know the life story of every one of those horses, or could remotely care. Absolutely there would have to be some re-thinking of how that might work in track, since the infield is literally where those field events are competed — but why not turn a track infield into the same kind of party zone?

“No idea is stupid,” Hardy said. “If you don’t get people to throw ideas around, you’re never going to get anywhere. We can take ideas from other sports. We can learn from people who follow the sport. We are definitely open.”

As Vin Lananna, president of TrackTown USA, the local organizers of Portland 2016, said, “You can’t be afraid to think big.”

He observed: “The best example is American football. How many real football fans know everything about football and go to the stadium to watch a football game? A lot of it is social.

“We don’t do it in track. We make it impossible. It’s long. It’s often boring. The announcers don’t relate. There’s no music.

“We’re getting there little by little,” he said of the 2016 world indoors. “This is a good start.”

Lananna at that Thursday afternoon news conference // Getty Images for IAAF

Coe at Thursday night's opening ceremony // Getty Images for IAAF

These championships marked the first world championships with Seb Coe, elected last August, as  IAAF president.

Coe, recognizing that track’s demographics trend older than younger, has preached relentlessly that the sport must innovate — in everything from presentation to social media.

“If you’re going to innovate,” Coe said, “a lot of it is going to work but you have to recognize that some of it is like the Paris fashions — not everything is angular, jagged, outrageous. Some of Paris fashion week is inevitably going to end up on a coat hanger in a retail store. But you do need to start somewhere.

“This for me is absolutely crucial: we must give federations, we must give organizing committees, permission to think out of the box and not sit there thinking, ‘I am going to look silly if it doesn’t come off.’ Because some of it is not going to come off.”

Part Two in a three-piece Oregon trilogy

These 2016 world indoors also made for the second act in a three-part Oregon world championship track and field trilogy keyed by TrackTown, in partnership with, among others, USATF. Understand, for instance, that these indoors don’t happen without the significant financial investment of USATF.

Part one: the 2014 world juniors in Eugene. Part two: Portland 2016. Part three: the 2021 world outdoor championships, back at a rebuilt Hayward Field.

There’s more: the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials will be back at Hayward.

Plus the NCAA Division I track and field championships — they have been at Hayward the past two years, will be there this year (June 8-11), indeed will be there every year through at least 2021.

This summer is due to see the launch of the TrackTown summer series meets.

Little appreciated amid the first world indoor championships in the United States since 1987: the IAAF had to want to come. One of the reasons it did so: the IAAF meetings around the 2014 Eugene world juniors, thanks to the efforts of USATF chief operating officer Renee Washington, were arguably best-ever. A detail that might seem small but really isn’t, like the translation services — it was made a priority, not not an afterthought.

The IAAF noticed.

“There is no one person who can single-handedly take all these people stuck in the fact that [the sport] has been done a single way,” Siegel said, emphasizing, “It takes a collective effort of like-minded people to effect any vision.”

From the get-go, the point of emphasis from all involved was that the 2016 world indoors had to be more than simply a track meet.

The audacious goal was to stage “the best indoor meet ever held anywhere in the world,” Lananna said last Wednesday with the idea of sparking what Coe on Thursday called a “reawakening of track and field in this country.”

That kind of thing is, by definition, going to take time.

So an immediate verdict is, again by definition, all but impossible.

Attendance figures suggest, however, that something must have clicked — the OCC, capacity 7,000, was essentially sold out for all three night events, and even the Friday morning session, competing against an Oregon State NCAA March Madness basketball game on TV, drew 4,087.

On Saturday evening, demand was so intense that organizers added— thank you, Portland fire marshal for being so accommodating — temporary seats and allowed for standing-room only. The total: 7,173.

Sunday, much the same: 7,191. Friendly ticket “brokers” could be seen looking for business outside the convention center.

The four-day attendance total: 39,283.

A huge boost to the atmosphere: the U.S. team ended up with 23 medals overall. Runner-up Ethiopia had -- five. France, four. Nobody else had more than three.

The fundamental challenge

Putting aside doping and corruption issues, for which the sport has justifiably earned headlines in recent months and years, the fundamental challenge is easy to identify: track and field is arguably the only sport in which multiple events are going on simultaneously.

On Sunday, for example: the men’s long jump, women’s 5k and women’s high jump (won a few minutes later by U.S. teen sensation Vashti Cunningham) were all going on at exactly the same time.

American Marquis Dendy, long jump winner // Getty Images for IAAF

Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia crosses the line to win gold in the women's 5k // Getty Images for IAAF

American teen Vashti Cunningham in the high jump // Getty Images for IAAF

How to best present or package that? Production, story-telling, engaging an audience — particularly newbies or casual fans?

At the same time, track and field is without question the most diverse, most global, sport anywhere anytime. It’s also fundamental. Virtually everyone, at some point, has done the run, jump or throw thing.

The 2016 championships drew roughly 500 athletes from more than 140 nations — roughly two-thirds of the countries in the world.

That’s the good.

The not-so: no Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix, Mo Farah (though he did show up to watch), David Rudisha and, of course, given the status of the Russian team amid doping sanction, the pole vault diva Yelena Isinbayeva.

British distance champion Mo Farah, who often trains in the Portland area, watching Friday night's men's 1500 heats with daughter Rihanna // Getty Images for IAAF

Germany's Kristin Gierisch, a silver medalist in Saturday's triple jump

The convention center pre-track build-out // photo courtesy TrackTown USA

Construction underway: note the wall on the right that had to go // photo courtesy TrackTown USA

Ready to go // Getty Images for IAAF

"Feels Like the First Time" -- thanks, Foreigner

The no-shows missed the transformation of the convention center in just 12 days to a world-class track and field venue.

And, beyond the rock soundtrack (Foreigner: “Feels Like the First Time” during the Friday men’s 1500 heats), a series of other major markers, many of which drew from a series of inspirations.

— The pole vault, men’s and women’s, as a by-themselves package on Thursday night, with hundreds of kids allowed onto the banked 200-meter track to watch.

Organizers were rewarded three times over. First: both winners were London 2012 Olympic gold medalists, the American Jenn Suhr and Renaud Lavillenie of France. Second: for the first time ever in the same competition, four women went over 4.80 meters, or 15 feet, 9 inches, Suhr winning in 4.90, 16-0 3/4. Third: Lavillenie, after setting a new indoor championships record on just his third jump, 6.02, 19-9, made three (unsuccessful) tries at a world record, 6.17, 20-2 3/4, electrifying the crowd.

The Lavillenie victory, moreover, provided emphatic evidence that, for all its challenges, track and field remains indisputably at the intersection of real-world politics and sport -- why it's so relevant in so many nations. French president Francois Hollande, on Friday posted to his Twitter account a message that read, in idiomatic English: "Congratulations to Renaud Lavillenie for his second world title! Here's to a great Olympic Games in Rio!"

In the manner of the pole-vault meet that now-IAAF vice president Sergey Bubka used to run in his hometown of Donetsk, Ukraine, stand-alone events would seem a key to the future of track and field.

USATF, for instance, made the hammer-throw at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials a signature event, held — before 5,000 people — at the Nike campus outside Portland. In 2014, the U.S. nationals saw the shot put go down on the California state capitol grounds.

Now: what about featuring that women’s high jump? On, say, the Vegas Strip? Or the Champs Élysées in Paris? Or the riverfront Bund in Shanghai?

— Those athlete entry ramps.

Swimming has long done the athlete intro big-time, with swimmers coming out from behind a partition to lights and music. Track tried that at the World Relays in the Bahamas in 2014, and again last year. Now, the ramps.

Another logistical (and time-saving) advantage: no stripping off the warm-ups in the lanes right before the start of a race.

Coe, noting that the indoor format lends itself more easily to experimentation, said, “Enough [new ideas have] come off here to make a big difference already.”

At the same time, as he noted, and this question about the ramps was rhetorical, not signaling an opinion, “Will that work on a Friday night in London when it’s 48 degrees?”

Norway’s Svein Arne Hansen, president of the European Athletics Assn., emphasizing that he, too, is a big proponent of trying something new, noted with a wry smile about turning down the house lights for athlete introductions: “I cannot turn down the lights at Bislett,” the annual summer stop in Oslo. “It’s sunlight.”

— A digitized scoreboard for the horizontal jumps.

You could see, not just have to imagine, what record a particular jumper might be going for. What a concept.

— Locals operating food trucks as an alternative to arena hot dogs. Voodoo Doughnuts!

— Uber as a sponsor, an example of integrating new, and cost-effective, technology.

Normally, an organizing committee has to find a car sponsor or rent a bunch of cars to create a dedicated carpool system. With Uber — Uber provided the carpool. If you wanted a ride — well, you know how Uber works.

— The make-over of Portland Courthouse Square downtown into the place for medals, music and more.

The nightly medals ceremonies focused on the athletes, a key for Lananna and Coe. Lananna said, “You take youth and connect them to their great heroes. That’s what it’s all about — that next generation.”

A clear logistical benefit to moving the ceremonies offsite: carving time out of the rundown at the track itself.

The offsite medals plaza has many roots — see the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games, for instance. Or the party vibe each summer at those Bislett Games in Oslo.

The vibe at the square: Portlandia from the start. At the opening news conference there last Thursday, Coe didn’t wear a tie, the first IAAF event in years at which the president did not wear a tie. Neither did Lananna. Nor Siegel.

Again, all quite deliberately.

“It has been a good event,” Hansen said Sunday as the championships came to a close. “The music. The atmosphere. Excellently organized.”

And, at least for four days, in a nod to the wave of doping and corruption headlines, he said, “We don’t talk about [the bad stuff] anymore.”

U.S. track and field: a 'monumental' step forward

GettyImages-484681604.jpg

When Max Siegel took over some three-plus years ago as chief executive of USA Track & Field, things were hardly all roses. For one, he didn’t come up within the sport. That meant, as the former long-jump champion Dwight Phillips, now the chair of the USATF Athletes Advisory Council, put it, “He wasn’t one of us.” That meant suspicion and scrutiny. Big time. From the start, Siegel made it clear the federation’s financial picture had to improve. At the same time, he also pledged collaboration. On Saturday, in a six hour-plus meeting at the Indiana Ballroom at the downtown Marriott in Indianapolis, Siegel and other USATF officials, working in concert with the athletes themselves, hammered out a historic plan that ought to do nothing less than re-shape the conversation about being a U.S. athlete in track and field and, as well, perhaps re-invent the industry.

Bottom line, though there are tons of fascinating details: USATF and the AAC agreed in principle on a revenue distribution plan that will deliver $9 million in cash to athletes over the next five years.

Unsaid, though totally obvious given USATF’s roughly $500 million arrangement with Nike, a landmark deal that Siegel negotiated and that kicks in come 2017: this could, maybe should, be just the tip of the iceberg.

“First and foremost,” said Phillips, “it was a monumental day. We made a pivotal move within the organization to [cement] the relationships between the athletes and the national office.”

Dwight Phillips at last month's 2015 world championships in Beijing // Getty Images

Will Leer holding the Golden Baton at the end of the 2014 World Relays in the Bahamas // Getty Images

Echoed Will Leer, the middle-distance standout, “You know, this isn’t blowing smoke: for the first time at a meeting I have been to between the AAC and the national office, and with all the interested parties — we actually got together and got something done.”

He added a moment later, “We came up with something I think the athletes are going to be very happy about. You can’t please everyone, obviously. But this is an enormous step forward in the professionalization of our sport.”

Wallace Spearmon, who for 10 years has been one of the best in the world at the 200 meters, said, “The chemical make-up of track and field is changing, and it is beginning with USATF and the AAC.”

Wallace Spearmon racing at the 2015 U.S. nationals in Eugene, Oregon // Getty Images

He also said, “With Dwight — I haven’t seen track changing so much as it has in the few months since he took over,” as the AAC chair.

“Max — when he first took over … I said to him, ‘We have been scarred before. This is no fault of your own. But you have to prove yourself to me. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. Right now, I don’t trust you.’ He took that for what it was; I didn’t mean any disrespect. Moving forward: year one, year two — I was actually impressed.

“And this,” meaning Saturday’s action, “feels like a step toward a brighter future.”

Last December, at the USATF annual meeting in Anaheim, California, Siegel had pledged $9 million in incremental funds to athletes.

How to divvy it up?

The meeting Saturday stemmed from a long-running conversation — which Siegel had asked the AAC to undertake — about how to define who was, or should be classified as, a professional track and field athlete.

Someone who wins a gold medal at the Olympics? For sure.

Someone who enters a race somewhere and wins, say, $500? Way more problematic.

At the meeting, with 19 athlete officers and event leaders and other high-performance personalities in attendance, along with Siegel and USATF officials such as Duffy Mahoney, the chief of sport performance, and Renee Washington, the chief operating officer, that conversation segued into something less elusive and more constructive.

Instead of trying to define who was or wasn’t a professional track or field athlete, the group turned its focus to USATF’s key mission — winning medals at the world championships or Olympics.

USATF rightfully can, and does, claim many jobs at hand — everything from winning medals to inspiring young people to take up the sport. But the primary job is high-performance development and, with that, winning medals.

Medals are not only good for the winners themselves; they produce a trickle-down effect for anyone and everyone with an interest in U.S. track and field.

For his part, Siegel said, “From the outset, we focused on outcome, accountability, collaboration."

USATF chief executive Max Siegel // photo USATF

With all of that in mind, here is what was decided:

— Beginning in 2016, roughly $1.8 million per year in cash will be distributed.

— That money is over and above current USATF tier funding, development funding and other programs. (More on the tier system in a moment.)

— Roughly 75 percent of the added cash will be evenly distributed among athletes who qualify for the “world majors,” meaning the IAAF world outdoor championships or the Summer Games.

— In practice, this will mean what? A $10,300 award for making the worlds or Olympic team.

— The remaining 25 percent will be distributed as bonus money for athletes who win a medal at the worlds or Olympics.

— In practice, this will mean what? Gold gets you $25,000; silver, $15,000; bronze, $10,000.

— Those who run in the relays, at least one round, will share equally in the amount of a bonus.

— All this is independent of any shoe contract deal or other endorsement; Diamond League or other international meet prize money; or appearance fees.

On tiers:

USATF classifies athletes into tiers — One, Two, Three and, cleverly enough, Four.

Those in One and Two are considered “elite”; in Three and Four, “emerging elite.”

Far and away, statistics show, medals get won by those in One and Two, and mostly One.

To be in One: you are a medalist, individual or relay, at at least one of the two most recent “world majors” and/or have a world top-10 ranking by Track & FIeld News and/or the website all-athletics.com.

Currently in One: 106 athletes.

Two: you made the top-eight at one of the two most recent “world majors” and/or are ranked world top-20 at all-athletics.com.

Currently in Two: 49 athletes.

In sum: the two tiers account for 155 athletes. Generally speaking, 130 athletes make a “world majors” team.

Why, once everyone got in the same room with the same vibe, did this turn out to be relatively straightforward?

Because, and this isn’t rocket science — it’s return on investment.

The U.S. team won 18 medals at the 2015 Beijing world championships. It’s obviously, just to take one important example, a better result for USATF and for track and field in the United States if, next August in Rio, the Americans take home a number in the mid- or even upper-20s.

To illustrate how all this might actually work for 2016 for an athlete, him or herself:

To start, a Tier One athlete is eligible now for $25,422 in annual support. This includes an athlete and medical stipend, and if the athlete names a coach, a coaching stipend for that coach; dollars to travel to domestic competitions; health insurance; and medical support services.

Now add in the new 10k.

As a baseline, you’re now at $35,422.

Over the last several years, USATF has doubled prize money at its national championships. First place at next year’s U.S. Olympic Trials will be worth $10,000; there’s a sliding scale that sees second worth $8,000, third $6,000, fourth $4,000, fifth $2,000 and $1,000 apiece for sixth and seventh.

First place at the U.S. indoors will be worth $5,000.

Let’s say you win at the indoors and take second at the Trials. That’s $5,000 plus another $8,000.

Now that $35,422 is $48,422.

At world majors, there’s a medals bonus that the U.S. Olympic Committee awards on behalf of USATF. It’s called “Operation Gold.” In 2016, gold will be worth 25k, silver 15k, bronze 10k.

Let’s say you take second at the Olympics.

That means 15k from Operation Gold plus another 15k from USATF. Now that $48,422 is $78,422.

The fine print:

Siegel and Phillips this week are due to sign a memorandum of agreement; additional details are scheduled to be worked out in the next 30 days. The program will be reviewed in the weeks before the 2015 annual meeting, in about two months in Houston, and finalized there.

What sorts of additional details?

Leer: “It seems like it could be construed as we could be paying athletes to stifle discourse — paying to shut them the hell up so we don’t have another Nick Symmonds episode,” a reference to the 800-meter runner who opted out of the 2015 Beijing worlds, citing a dispute with USATF over the wearing of national-team gear.

“This needs to be ironed out. But I think most athletes — they’re going to say, “Now we are getting paid to be at a championship, getting paid to represent our country.’ When you are getting paid, there is expectation.

“… You are expected to come there and perform. If you come and perform, you get rewarded.

“It’s a job like anything else and this goes toward rewarding the workers, who are the athletes. I’m pretty excited about it.”

So, too, Symmonds, who in a telephone interview Monday said, "I am really really pleased with this. It’s a huge step in the right direction."

He also quipped, referring to the roughly 10k making-the-team award, "I just wish I could retroactively get the $70,000 for the last seven teams that I made."

So, too, Darvis “Doc” Patton, the former sprinter, who like Philips called the development “monumental.”

Darvis 'Doc' Patton running at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials // photo Getty Images

He said, “This is something that makes me wish I could come back to the sport. It makes me want to come back and compete again.

“Given the history of [USATF] meetings, you went in like, OK, I’m going to brace myself for whatever. It wasn’t that at all. If I had to use one word, I would say ‘productive’ — it was a productive meeting.”

Mahoney chose “ground-breaking,” adding, “I think it changes the direction of the dialogue between us and the athletes. We are cooperating. And we are cooperating on trying to provide as many resources for elite and emerging elite athletes as we can.”