Saturday, August 4, 2012

Super Saturday proves prophetic for the home team on day 2 of Olympic track & field competition...

LONDON--It was a night for the home nation, as British athletes took home three gold medals to complete day two of the Olympic track and field competition Saturday at Olympic Stadium, on a day that the stadium announcer called "Super Saturday".

Heptathlete Jessica Ennis maintained her first day lead in winning the two day competition consisting of seven events. as she broke her own national record with a final score of 6955 points.

In day 2, Ennis long jumped 21-3 1/4 (6.48m), scoring 1001 points. She then threw the javelin 155-9 (47.49m) and finished by winning her section of the 800 in 2:08.65, worth 984 points.

Lilli Schwarzkopf of Germany was second with 6649 points, and Tatyana Chernova of Russia was third with 6628 points.

University of Oregon alum Brianne Theisen was 11th with 6383 points, while Sharon Day was the top American with 6232 points.

The night's second gold medal went to long jumper Greg Rutherford, who took the lead in round two with a mark of 26-11 1/4 (8.21m) and never relinquished it, finishing with a best of 27-3 14 (8.31m).

Australia's Mitchell Watt was second at 26-9 1/4 (8.16m), with Florida alum Will Claye third at 26-7 3/4 (8.12m).

For the 80000 that packed Olympic Stadium, the night ended with a victory by Mo Farah (above/photo courtesy, as he wound up a 53.48 last lap to emerge victorious in the men's 10000 meter run.

A group which included perennial front runner Zersanay Tadese of Eritrea, two time defending champion Kenenisa Bekele and brother Tariku of Ethiopia, Moses Masai and Bedan Muchiri of Kenya were at the front for most of the race, with Farah and training partners Dathan Ritzenhein and Galen Rupp of the Nike Oregon Project lurking at the back of the lead pack to stay out of trouble.

The real racing began with 800 meters to go, as Farah moved up to the front to repel the challenge of Geb Gebremariam of Ethiopia, who had surged from about eighth to the lead about 250 meters earlier.

On the final lap, Farah dropped a 53.48 400 as he extended his lead, crossing the line in 27:30.42. Meanwhile, Rupp charged the last lap slightly slower than his training partner, running around 53.5 to pass Tariku Bekele in the final straight to get second in 27:30.90 and earn the USA's first medal in that event since Billy Mills' victory way back in 1964.

Tariku held off his brother to grab the last spot on the podium 27:31.43 to 27:32.44.

NCAA 10000m champ Cam Levins of British Columbia was 11th in 27:40.68, while Dathan Ritzenhein was 13th in 27:45.89, and Oregon TC/Portland's Matt Tegenkamp was 19th in 28:18.26.

Afterwards, Alberto Salazar, who coaches both Farah and Rupp, told reporters, “The race plan for Mo and Galen was we felt they could outsprint anybody in the race, and that we didn’t care if it was a fast pace or slow pace, they weren’t going to try to win it until the last 400, maybe even 200m. I’ll be honest, I thought we were going to medal, and I thought we were going to get 1-2. It’s not something I was publicizing...but I was sure we would get two medals...It was overwhelming, it is the greatest feeling perhaps that I’ve ever had, even greater than anything I ever did in my own athletic career. Other than getting married and my kids’ births, I would say this is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”

Rupp, who attended high school at Portland's Central Catholic HS and has been coached by Salazar for over a decade, said, “I knew if I could be close to Mo in the end good things would happen, so I was just kind of keying off of him, and I saved a little bit for the last 200, last 150, last 100 and even last 50. At this level you are never going to get in the top three if you can’t beat somebody in that last bit. That is something we’ve been working on for years now and it is awesome to see it come through.”

To read more in depth on the 1-2 finish by Farah and Rupp, please click this link for a great piece by Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden.

Carmelita Jeter, the US Olympic Trials champion who looked impressive in the early rounds, could not handle the mid race surge by Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as she successfully defended her Olympic title in the 100, running 10.75 to Jeter's 10.78.

Team USA's Tianna Madison (10.85) and Allyson Felix (10.89) finished 4-5.

In Saturday morning action, all three Team USA sprinters--Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, and Ryan Bailey all moved on to the semi finals in the 100 meters.

The 400 meters saw one of the first big casualties of the meet as defending Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt, who was hurt a few weeks ago in Monaco, failed to finish. Collegians Bryshon Nellum & Tony McQuay did advance.

Emma Coburn and Bridget Franek of Oregon TC/Eugene advanced to the finals of the 3000m steeplechase.while Jenn Suhr and Oregon alum Becky Holliday advanced to the finals in the women's pole vault.

Sunday action features the women's marathon, with Oregon TC/Portland's Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher; and finals involving Americans in the men's hammer, women's 400 and men's steeple. The semis of the men's 100 will be run Sunday night, with the finals the last event of Sunday's session..

No athletes with Washington ties will be competing Sunday.

The results of day 2 are available here, while the start lists for day 3 are available here.

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

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