RIO DE JANEIRO—University of Washington alum Jeremy Taiwo (above/photo courtesy IAAF/Getty Images) stands fifth in the decathlon at the halfway mark of the two-day competition with a five-event total of 4419 points to highlight Wednesday’s competition for Washington affiliated athletes at Estádio Olímpico João Havelange.
Taiwo started the day by running the 100 meters in 11.01 to finish fifth in his heat, scoring 858 points.
In the long jump, he recorded a best of 24-5.5 (7.45m) for 922 points and a 2-event score of 1780 points.
In the shot put, he threw a season best 48-11.5 (14.92m) to score 785 points and move into the top ten for the first time, placing him in ninth.
Taiwo, who is an excellent high jumper, then won the high jump, clearing 7-2.25 (2.19m), worth 982 points to go from ninth to third after the fourth event.
In the 400, he had the fifth fastest time of the day, running 48.78 to garner 872 points and a first day total of 4419, which is just short of his first-day personal best of 4478 points, set at the Olympic Trials last month.
At the break, defending Olympic champ and Oregon alum Ashton Eaton leads with 4621 points, with Kai Kazmirek of Germany second at 4500 points. Damian Warner of Canada stands third at 4489, followed by Kevin Mayer of France at 4435.
In summarizing his first day of competition, Taiwo said, “Day one was a little slow to start in the 100, but I just forgot about it and went to the long jump, had an ok jump there. Then I picked up momentum with a near [personal best] in the shot put, so that was awesome. Then I was smart with the big break between high jump, so I rested well and then got back and jumped 2.19m, which was close to my best outdoors in the decathlon. So that was great, and then I finished with a quarter in the 48’s and still feel good and I just got to go to sleep now. It’s been awesome, I am just happy that I am here.”
Heat 1 of the men’s 5000 meters provided the most drama, as former Puyallup resident Hassan Mead got tangled up with defending world and Olympic champion Mo Farah of Great Britain and the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon Project with 250 meters to go.
Farah, who was in front of Mead, momentarily lost his balance, but was able to stay on his feet, as he finished third in 13:25.25. Mead rolled on his side as the pack pulled away, then got up to finish 13th in 13:34.27 in the 25-man field, well short of the top 5 needed to advance to Saturday night’s final.
One man who did avoid trouble in the heat was Washington State alum Bernard Lagat, who was tucked right behind Mead as he fell. Lagat put a hand on Mead’s back in a self-preservation move, and avoided trouble. Lagat finished fifth in the heat in a time of 13:26.02.
On Mead’s fall, Lagat said, “I was right behind him. I saw him going down just a little distance from me and I had to actually jump over him. You train for four years thinking about one thing and then it ends. You see your dream of almost making the finals and in 200m it’s all gone. I hope they can do something to reinstate him, because really if you think about it he was going to go in anyways. I hope they will be lenient and put him in the final, because he didn’t trip on himself something happened. I told him ‘to keep your head up, I think there is a chance you can still go in’ because I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t distraught about it and I wanted to make sure he knew he had my support 100 percent.”
Mead said, “I think Mo [Farah] was in front of me, this is what I think happened, it was all pretty blurry because by the time I realized anything happened I was on the ground. But I think I was outside of Mo, and moved in at the same time he moved in so I didn’t have the full stride and I ran into him. That’s what happened, then I was on the ground and tried to get up as quick as possible to finish. But that’s that, and hopefully we can advance and see how it goes.”
After the race, Mead and Team USA officials filed a protest to put him into Saturday’s final. However, the IAAF denied the protest.
Shortly after the end of Wednesday night session at the stadium, Mead posted on his social media accounts that he was put into Saturday’s final. At the time of this post, Mead’s name was still not on the start list for Saturday’s final at 5:30 pm Seattle time (9:30 pm in Rio), though a USA Track & Field media officer confirmed to paulmerca.blogspot.com via text that Mead was in the finals.
Seattle resident Justine Fedronic, who competes for France, finished sixth in her first round heat of the women’s 800, running 2:02.73, and will not advance to the semi-finals on Thursday.
Team USA highlights from Wednesday included Bowerman TC member Evan Jager of Portland’s second place finish in the 3000 steeplechase, as he ran 8:04.28, with teammates Hillary Bor (8:22.74) and former Bellingham resident Donn Cabral (8:25.81) finishing seventh & eighth, in a race won by Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto in an Olympic record 8:03.28.
Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese finished 1-2 in the women’s long jump, with marks of 23-6.25 (7.17m), and 23-5.5 (7.15m), respectively.
Tori Bowie finished third in the women’s 200, running 22.15, in a race won by Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson in 21.78.
To cap off a strong performance by the Americans, Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin swept the top three places in the 100 hurdles, with Rollins taking the win in 12.49. Ali was second in 12.59, with Castlin third in 12.61.
Taiwo will be the only athlete with Washington ties competing Thursday, as he starts day two of the decathlon at 5:30 am Seattle time (9:30 am in Rio).
Results from day 6 and start lists for day 7 of the Olympic track & field competition are available here.
NOTE: The IAAF and USA Track & Field contributed to this report.