Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summary of Washington state affiliated athletes competing at the Olympics...

Aretha Thurmond (above) finished tenth in the women's discus finals (photo courtesy Victah Sailer/Photo Run/The Running Network)

Here’s a summary of how the nine track & field athletes with Washington state connections have fared so far at the Olympics in Beijing:

ANSON HENRY (Canada/Washington State)—Finished fourth in heat 7 in the first round of the men’s 100. In the second round, he finished fifth in 10.33, and did not advance to the semi-finals.

“I got out well, but it just didn’t happen. I’ll deal with this tonight, then my focus will be on the relay.”

MART ISRAEL (Estonia/University of Washington)—Missed the finals of the discus by two places in qualifying, placing 14th overall with a toss of 203-4 (61.98m).

BERNARD LAGAT (USA/Washington State)—Finished fourth in the first round of the men’s 1500, running 3:41.98. In the second round, he finished sixth with a time of 3:37.79, and did not advance to the final.

"It was so close going into today. I had my strategy going in but things didn't fall into place. There was a lot of pushing, a lot of boxing. I thought I had to dig deep to get in. I didn't make it, though. Life goes on. As long as I gave my best, my friends, my family -- I didn't let them down. I gave my best. I knew it would be competitive. I warmed up really good. Sadly, it didn't work out."

Lagat won his heat of the men’s 5000, running 13:39.70, finishing with a last lap of 55.1, and 1:52.3 over the last 800m to advance to the finals on Saturday.

After the 5000 semis, he said, "It went alright. Today was slow, and I knew that at some point if I don't get to top four, I might was well go away again like in the 1500m. I didn't want it to happen like the 1500m. I wanted to run aggressively even though it was slow and I did. I am happy I won. It wasn't a very good win. It felt really good."

"I've had a few problems with my left Achilles after the trials, and that is why I lost a few weeks of training. That resulted in not making the finals in the 1500m. But now, I am good. We have a really good medical staff with Team USA over here, and they have been taking good care of me. I'm feeling strong right now."

HALEY NEMRA (Marshall Islands/Marysville-Pilchuck HS)—Nemra ran 2:18.83, a distant seventh in her first round heat of the women’s 800.

After the race Haley told KING 5 "It was incredible!! It took my breath away walking into that stadium!" She went on to say the race was hard, but that the atmosphere was something she will never forget and is looking forward to trying to make it to the Olympics again in four years.

KARA PATTERSON (USA/Skyview-Vancouver HS)-- Kara Patterson threw 54.00m/177-2 on her first attempt in the women’s javelin, finishing 21st in her flight.

"I was kind of surprised at the tears that came into my eyes after my third throw. I can't be disappointed with being in the Olympic qualifying round, but that emotion shows me how competitive I am. I'm really excited to do a lot better in the future. I felt really good today, really good on the runway. It just didn't work out."

DIANA PICKLER (USA/Washington State)—Dropped out of the women’s heptathlon after the first event-the 100 hurdles, where she ran 14.28, more than a full second off her personal best, set last month at the Olympic Trials. In that first event, Pickler strained her left hamstring, a problem she’s had since early spring.

ARETHA THURMOND (USA/University of Washington-Renton HS)—Earned a spot in the finals of the women’s discus, throwing 61.90 (203-1), significant, as this was the first time the three-time Olympian had made a final.

In the finals, Thurmond finished tenth, with a toss of 59.80 meters/196-2.

"I gave it my all today. I'm not going to be disappointed. It is disappointing to know I had a legitimate chance for that podium. My last throw, I set it up, I did everything I wanted to do and the disc just got away from me. I just came up short. It's always a learning experience. Getting to the second day is an accomplishment for me.”

BRAD WALKER (USA/University of Washington-University HS Spokane)—The 2007 world champion no heighted in the pole vault qualifying at 5.65m/18-6.5.

IAN WALTZ (USA/Washington State University)—The Olympic Trials champion only managed to throw 60.02m (196-11) on his first attempt, followed by two fouls, thus failing to advance to the finals.

“I just didn't throw really good at all. I've been fighting some injuries. I didn't have any rhythm. It kind of stinks, I've had a really good year. It's unfortunate it didn't work out."

ATHLETES REMAINING—Anson Henry will run in the semifinals of the men’s 4 x 100 meter relay, running the second leg on the Canadian squad at 8:20 pm (Beijing time) on Thursday August 21st, with finals the following day at 10:10 pm.

By winning his heat of the men’s 5000, Bernard Lagat advances to the finals, scheduled for 8:10 pm (Beijing time) on Saturday August 23rd.

Beijing is 15 hours ahead of Seattle and the Pacific time zone, and 12 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone.

NOTE: Quotes courtesy Athletics Canada, KING 5, & USA Track & Field.

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