Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Former world champs Lagat and Walker advance to finals...

LONDON--Running in the fastest qualification heat in Olympic history, Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) advanced to Saturday's final in the men's 5000 meter run Wednesday morning at Olympic Stadium.

Lagat finished fourth in heat 2 and earned one of the five automatic qualifying spots, crossing the line in 13:15.45, as all of the time qualifiers from the two heats came out of heat two.

Australia's Craig Mottram and Olympic 10000m silver medalist Galen Rupp of Portland did most of the early leading, with Lagat tucked in around seventh or eighth, before moving up to position himself for the finishing sprint with two laps to go.

On the final lap, he was one of five runners that broke away, and appeared to challenge for the lead exiting the final turn, but eased up with about 40 meters to go, knowing that his place in the finals was secure.

Dejen Gebremeskel won the heat in 13:15.15.

Rupp was sixth in 13:17.68, while Cam Levins from Black Creek, BC on Vancouver Island finished eighth in a personal best 13:18.29.

Afterwards, Lagat said, "My coach (James Li) told me to be prepared that this race is going to be fast, and indeed it was fast. He told me to make sure you are in good position and run relaxed, and I did. He told me, towards the end run a bit faster and be with the guys who are leading, and as long as you know you are safe, no need to win, just run hard...I was quite happy with it.”

In the first section, Olympic 10000 meter champ Mo Farah of Great Britain, who is part of the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon Project, was third in 13:26.00, while Lopez Lomong of the OTC Elite/Portland was fourth in 13:26.16, ensuring that all three Americans in the field are in Saturday's final.

The winner of the first section was Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan in 13:25.23.

University of Washington alum Brad Walker survived an early scare and a possible repeat of what happened in Beijing four years ago, when he no-heighted in qualifying, as he had two misses at his opening height of 18-0 1/2 (5.50m), before clearing it, as well as the next bar of 18-4 1/2 (5.60m) to advance to Friday's finals in the pole vault.

"I was scared and I emotionally wore myself out. It was obviously nerve wracking on the third attempt at the opening bar. It was kind of reminiscent of Beijing, and that obviously didn’t go the way I wanted it to. It was just getting through it and a big scream after I made it.”

Marysville-Pilchuck HS grad Haley Nemra, representing the Marshall Islands, finished a distant sixth in heat two of the women's 800 meters in a season best of 2:14.90, eclipsing her previous season best of 2:15.94, set at the Willamette Invitational in May.

Reigning world champion Mariya Savinova won the heat in 2:01.56, with American Alice Schmidt second in 2:01.65.

Wednesday night finals at Olympic Stadium include the women's long jump, 400 hurdles and 200, and the men's 110 hurdles, plus the conclusion of day 1 of the men's decathlon featuring world record holder and Oregon alum Ashton Eaton.

Results from day 6 are available here.

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