In Case You Missed It… Weekend (Plus Monday) Review of London Olympics

If you missed the weekend at the Olympics, I feel genuinely sorry for you. Of course, we’re here to get you caught up.

Men’s 10,000 meters
This race started out no different than almost any other championship race. None of the contenders wanted to take the lead, so the pace through the first mile was slow. The mile pace was in the same vicinity as the women’s race. Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea took the lead for the next few miles and injected a little pace into the race, but not enough to break up the lead pack.

During the last few laps, it became apparent that both the Ethiopians and Kenyans were trying to team up to mess with hometown favorite Mo Farah. At one point, three Ethiopians together try to box him in.

It would be to no use, though, as Farah remained calm and in position to strike. With one lap to go, there were about 10 guys still in medal position, but not even the great Kenenisa Bekele, who’s known as the greatest race closer of all-time, could match Farah’s impressive last lap.

Equally impressive than Farah’s achievement, though, was that of his teammate Galen Rupp. Rupp, having been thought of as a Nike/Oregon/Salazar protege since the age of 14, proved the thousands of internet trolls wrong (we’re talking to you LetsRun forum!) by out kicking the Africans and earning a silver medal.

Of course, as great as an accomplishment as this was, I am supremely disappointed at NBC for nary a mention of Galen Rupp’s achievement. I can’t understand why hours and hours are dedicated to certain sports and fluff pieces (I’ve wasted at least 20 minutes over the past few days learning about latitude & longitude and James Bond), yet I’ve yet to even hear a mention of Rupp’s great achievement on the prime time broadcast. I’m really hope they atone for this mistake later on this week when we get the 5k semis and finals.

Women’s 100 meter

The women’s 100 meter, much like the men’s race later on, was all set up to be a face off for the US vs. Jamaica. Defending Olympic champ Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and defending world champion Carmelita Jeter seemed to be the two pre-race favorites. Both had been running well all season and looking very good in qualifying.

Fraser-Pryce and Jeter had the exact same reaction time (.153) but it was Fraser-Pryce would would wind up the gold medalist by the slimmest of margins (0.03 seconds). When the race was over, she didn’t know she’d won the race until she saw the results on the scoreboard. Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown won the bronze with Tiana Madison and Allyson Felix of the US taking 4th and 5th. All of the top 5 besides Fraser-Pryce ran either a season best time or personal best.

Women’s marathon

In the first few miles of the race, the race proved to be a little bit of a waiting game. It went out quite conservatively with just about all the big contenders in the lead pack. Notable exceptions through the first 5k were former Olympic champion Constantina Dita who had already lost touch and Desireé Davila who was forced to drop out due to an injury.

The rest of the first half of the race provided little excitement (as expected). Americans Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan looked good among the 28 that were still in the lead pack. Shortly after the halfway point, the three runners from both Kenya and Ethiopia pushed the pace a little and put a little distance on the trail pack which was led by Flanagan. Over the next few miles, Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia and Edna Kiplagat dropped off the pace a little and Russian Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova joined the lead pack. Flanagan moved into fifth place briefly, but started struggling and was passed by a few runners in the last few miles.

With less than a mile to go in the race, the lead pack of four (Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia, Priscah Jeptoo & Mary Keitany of Kenya and Arkhipova of Russia) stil had done little to separate themselves from one another. With a half mile left, the race started to break up with Tiki Gelana putting herself in gold medal position. Jeptoo fought hard, but wound up five seconds short. Arkhipova settled for the bronze. Training partners Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher finished in 10th and 11th place – separated by just 16 seconds.

Women’s 400 meter final

Sanya Richards-Ross looked to avenge her 400 meter loss in Beijing. And avenge it she did. Coming off the last turn, she was in 2nd place behind Antonina Krivoshapka of Russia. As they rounded the turn, she (along with the rest of the field) blew by Krivoshapka. Ross looked strong to the finish beating hometown favorite and defending gold medalist Christine Ohuruogu by 0.15. American Deedee Trotter, who narrowly missed out on silver, had to settle for the bronze.

Men’s 3000 meter steeplechase

Looking strong in the prelims, there was a lot of buzz about young American Evan Jager possibly sneaking into a medal position in the final in just his 7th career steeplechase.

It wasn’t to be. As it has been for nearly 30 years, the Kenyans – led by 2004 gold medalist/stabbing suspect Ezekiel Kemboi – were dominant in the steeple.

The Americans (Evan Jager and Donald Cabral) were in touch with two laps to go, but Kemboi took off and didn’t look back. He wound up finishing in lane 7 and dancing to celebrate his victory – a tactic we’ve seen from him before. Jager and Cabral finished a respectable 6th and 8th, but just didn’t have the closing speed in the last lap. The tragedy in this event is that we didn’t get to see possibly the two best steeplechasers in the world right now (Paul Koech of Kenya and Saif Saeed Shaheen of Qatar) a square of with Kemboi.

Men’s 100 meter dash

The buildup to this event couldn’t have been scripted any better if it were a movie being directed by Christopher Nolan.

Usain Bolt – the superhero. Looked unbeatable in 2008 and 2009. He hadn’t looked like the world beater we remember from Beijing false starting out of the 2011 World Championship final and getting beat by countryman Yohan Blake in the 100 and 200 of the Jamaican Olympic Trials. In the prelims, though, he started to show some of that old Bolt magic we loved in 2008.

Yohan Blake – the upstart. His 2011 World Championship proved he was legit, but his two wins over Bolt started the conversation about him being the fastest man in the world.

Justin Gatlin – the comeback kid. He once had seen glory (2004 Gold Medal). But a 4-year doping ban (that NBC mentioned enough that he could legally change his name to “Justin Gatlin-who-was-banned-four-years-for-doping”) took him away from the sport. Since being reinstated, though, he’s been the dominant face of American sprinting.

Tyson Gay & Asafa Powell – back for one last time. Both were the dominant face of sprinting through the mid-to-late 2000s. In fact, heading into the last Olympics, all of the talk was about Gay or Powell. Powell has a history of running incredible times, but coming up short in big races. Gay, the favorite in the 2008 Olympics, suffered an injury in the Trials and didn’t make the 2008 Final.

The race was one for the ages. Gatlin got out of the blocks hard as he always does and the top five contenders were clear early in the race. But it was all Bolt who once again looked invincible running a 9.64 for gold. Fellow Jamaican Blake was in 9.75 (tied for his personal best). Gatlin took bronze in 9.79 (his personal best) while Gay (season best) and Bailey (personal best) took 4th and 5th.

Men’s 400 meters

Monday was a bit of a down day for action on the track, but Grenada’s Kirana James (the man who in his semifinal switched bibs with Oscar Pistorius after the race) ran away from the field running a 43.94 for his countries first gold medal. Shockingly, no American even qualified for the final.