Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lagat gets fourth in Olympic 5000 meter finals...

LONDON--Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Victah Sailer,, who may have competed in his fourth and final Olympic Games, finished just out of the medals finishing fourth in the 5000 meter run Saturday night at Olympic Stadium.

Once the field crossed the 400 meter mark at around 72 seconds or so, a good time for an average high school 1600 race, one got the sense that this was shaping up as a 8 1/2 lap jog and a 1600-meter race, which as it turned out, was correct.

At the 1000 meter mark, the field went through at 2:55.40 with the next kilometer even slower at 3:01.3.

At that point, Lagat was tucked near the middle of the pack trying to stay out of trouble, all the while keeping an eye on the dangerous Mo Farah of Great Britain and the Nike Oregon Project, running with a gold medal in the 10000 already in his pocket, and trying to join the likes of Emil Zatopek, Vladimir Kuts, Lasse Viren, Miruts Yifter, and Kenenisa Bekele as men who have won the Olympic title in both distances in a single Olympiad.

As the field, which included Farah's training partner and Portland resident Galen Rupp, and Vancouver Island resident Cam Levins, who had gone through a grueling season at the collegiate ranks, approached the 3000 mark, the pace picked up, taking the field through a kilometer of 2:46.25, runners began jockeying for position anticipating for when the real racing started, with Lagat trying to stay on the outside of lane 1 to cover a move.

With less that 900 meters to go, Farah made his move to the front, with Lagat moving to about fifth place, as it seemed that placings were fluid as runners tried to set themselves up for the big move.

The big move was made by Farah as the field entered the bell lap, as he tried to open a gap, but was covered by a group of five. With 250 to go, much as he did in Daegu at last year's world championships, the Brit made his decisive move, opening up a gap on Ethiopia's Dejen Gebremeskel and Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya.

With over a hundred meters to go, Lagat appeared to be in prime position to unleash the patented sprint finish that won him two world titles in 2007 at 1500 and 5000 meters, but ended up getting bumped by Kenya's Isiah Koech, who was trying to gain some space for a final sprint.

Lagat was fortunate not to go down on the track, but caught himself and tried to go again, gaining ground on Longosiwa, but ran out of real estate.

Farah's winning time was a pedestrian 13:41.66, one of the slowest winning times in recent Olympic history, with Gebremeskel second at 13:41.98.

Longosiwa held on for third at 13:42.36, with Lagat fourth at 13:42.99.

Oregon alum Rupp was seventh at 13:45.04, with Levins 14th at 13:51.87.

Lagat said afterwards, “I was very confident. I was just trying to go as I hard as I could. It would have been better to have been on the podium. The fourth spot is tough but I have been the most blessed person in my career.”

In other events, the women's 4 x 400 relay squad of DeeDee Trotter, Allyson Felix, Francena McCorory and Sanya Richards-Ross went wire to wire to win the Olympic title in a time of 3:16.87.

Though most seasoned track & field experts thought the United States could get a medal in the women's high jump, very few expected it to come from the University of Arizona's Bridgetta Barrett, one of the most dominant collegians this season, and a Dempsey Indoor facility record holder.

On the sport's biggest stage, the MPSF Indoor, Pac-12 outdoor, NCAA indoor and outdoor champion responded by setting a new personal best of 6-8 (2.03m) on her second attempt, after second attempt misses at the two previous heights.

Reigning world champ Anna Chicherova of Russia stayed clean through five heights, clearing 6-8 for the win, and ultimately clearing the next bar, 6-8 3/4 (2.05m). Her Russian teammate Svetlana Shkolina took third, also clearing 6-8.  American record holder Chaunte Lowe was sixth at 6-5 1/2 (1.97m).

In the women's 800, Mariya Savinova of Russia took advantage of some questionable racing tactics by former world champ Caster Semenya who tried to run from the back, and powered to victory, running 1:56.19 to the South African's 1:57.23.

Russia's Ekaterina Poistogova was third in 1:57.53, just ahead of defending Olympic champ Pamela Jelimo of Kenya in 1:57.59. Cal alum Alysia Montano, who did the early front running, rallied in the last 100 to get fifth in 1:57.93.

In the final track race of the London Olympics, Jamaica's squad of Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, Yohan Blake, and Usain Bolt lowered their own world record of 37.04 by running 36.84.

The US squad of Trell Kimmons, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, and Salem's Ryan Bailey, a Dempsey Indoor record holder at 200 meters, could not hold the lead in the second exchange as reigning world champ Blake overtook Gay on the turn before handing the baton to Bolt for the win and the world record.

Team USA crossed the line in a new national record of 37.04--the old world record set by the Jamaican squad at last year's world championships in Daegu.

With Sunday the final day of the Olympics, the track & field portion ends with the running of the marathon through the streets of London, with a strong Pac-12 presence for Team USA in UCLA alum Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist; Stanford's Ryan Hall; and Arizona alum Abdi Abdirahman. Action in the marathon gets underway at 11:00 am London time (3 am in Seattle).

The results of the final day of competition are available here.

The start lists for the marathon are available here.

NOTE: USA Track & Field and the IAAF contributed to this report.

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