Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lagat's title defense at 1500 meters falls short...

BERLIN, Germany--Bernard Lagat's (left/photo by Paul Merca) attempt to defend his world championship title came up a bit short in the finals of the men's 1500 meter run Wednesday night at the Berlin Olympiastadion, as the Washington State University graduate finished third.

Burundi's Yusuf Saad Kamel, a Kenyan expatriot and the son of middle distance legend Billy Konchellah took advantage of a tactical race that was slow through the first 800 meters, and scrambled to the victory in a time of 3;35.93.

Finishing second was Ethopia's Deresse Mekonnen, who ran 3:36.01, with Lagat following at 3:36.20.

With 300 meters to go, Lagat, normally a superb tactician, appeared in good position for his patented late-race rush, but got pinned to the inside of the rail when it came time for the critical move to be made.

He spent most of the last 150 trying to get out of the box he was in, and expended his energy by running left to right instead of straight ahead. Many observers noted that he was even fortunate to medal, given the predicament he was in on the last lap.

Afterwards, he told reporters, "Everything I was trying to avoid in this race, it happened."

"That was the hardest box ever. This is a box that was happening a little too close to the finish. Normally, when it happens, with 300 meters to go, you can make your way out of it. This one happened at the wrong place, with 150 meters to go. I couldn’t do anything."

On his longevity at the world championship level, Lagat said, "Even if I am the oldest runner in the field at 34, I still have the hunger to beat the field, so I am looking forward to Daegu (site of the 2011 world championships in Korea) and the London Olympics. I don't look at age, but at progression."

Rainier Beach High School graduate Ginnie Powell finished sixth in the finals of the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 12.78 seconds, one place short of her finish in Osaka two years ago.

In describing her race, Powell said, " The race was very messy. I felt good, especially over the first four hurdles, and then I was trying to press so hard that I was clipping hurdles. I clipped one real bad and that threw me off."

"It's sad that two of America's top hurdlers couldn't medal, and especially under Bob Kersee. It's the first time in a long time that he didn't get a medal in a major meet."

"Anyone on that starting line could have won that race. (One of the girls) was saying that if you make one little mechanical mistake, no matter how fit or strong you are, it's over."

Earlier in the evening, she ran 12.73 in the semi-final round.

Marysville-Pilchuck HS grad Jarred Rome finished 11th in the finals of the men's discus, with a throw of 204-11 (62.47 meters).

"I felt great yesterday. My legs felt great. My technique felt good. Everything felt good. Then today, nothing felt good. I couldn’t even hit one throw. I had high expectations and I don’t even know what happened."

In Thursday action, former Washington All-Americans Brad Walker and Ryan Brown go into action for the first time in this meet, as Walker begins his title defense in the pole vault at 10:10 am, Berlin time (1:10 am in Seattle), and Brown makes his world championship debut at 11:45 am (2:45 am in Seattle).

Lagat returns to the track to begin his world championship defense in the 5000 meters at 6:55 pm local time (9:55 am in Seattle).

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