Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Olympic 10,000m Recap

Rupp and Farah leading everyone on the planet
Continuing a short series of posts - A quick look back at the 10,000m Olympic Finals:

This was the big race that runners across the country had circled on their calendar. For the first time in a couple of generations, the US team had a runner in the field - Galen Rupp, formerly of the Univ. of Oregon - that had a legitimate shot of cracking the formidable talent of the East Africans and finding his way to the podium. Rupp's primary weapons are that he trains with the current World Champion and world no.1, Mo Farah of Great Britain, and that he has the finishing speed to close the race with a 53sec final lap. Only a half dozen of the world's elite distance runners have that kind of closing speed, Farah is one of them. With that said, the drama surrounding the race became a question of whether Rupp could step-up and resist cracking under the pressure of an Olympic Final, and whether the rest of the world's top distance runners would pursue a strategy to press a fast enough pace throughout the race to negate the kick of the favorites.

My man Dathan representing Boulder in the early going
The race began slowly as the runners found their legs, then Team Eritrea went hard to the front after the first mile and began alternating leads and pressing a strong pace (27min pace). Long time fixtures of the American distance scene Dathan Ritzenhein formerly of the Univ. of Colorado (Go Buffs!) and Matt Tegenkamp formerly of the Univ. of Wisconsin, were mixing it up in the lead pack through the first 6000m. As the race drama peaked over the last few thousand meters the Eritreans fell back to recover as both the Ethiopian and Kenyan contingents were chattering with one another at the front, debating their next move. They chose to sit and kick. Rupp held onto fourth position on the rail and all the front runners held tight until the bell.

Farah bossin' it in front of the adoring British crowd
Farah set off the bedlam by surging into the final lap. The London crowd roared their approval and the chase was on. The surge created space for Rupp to come off the rail and he was one of five that were away and chasing medals; Farah, one Kenyan, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia (the world record holder and two-time Olympic champion), Bekele's brother Tariku, and Rupp. I stared at the television and thought to myself - an American is in position to conceivably win this race!? Oh shit, this was seriously going to happen. Rupp showed steely patience in lane two with the frightening shadow of Bekele on his heels, and then went all-in on the top of the bend, pushing past the fading Kenyan (bronze!), then on the homestretch the Ethiopian began to falter and Rupp overtook him 40 meters to the line (silver!), and then it was over!

Disbelief at the finish
I was in the pediatric ward of the hospital as this was happening. My brother and I, eyes glued to the set were whispering to each other this whole time, miming the tension and disbelief of those last four laps, and with great discipline and restraint, not yelling. Just then I hear my wife - who dislikes talk of running and related nonsense - calmly ask from behind us, 'wait, did Rupp just win a medal?'. Yes, he most certainly did. What a magnificent race.  Results here  (Race video here - beginning at 2:29:30)

Whew, well I'll follow that with a quick clip of another of the finest Olympic 10000m finishes of all-time. Greats Paul Tergat and Haile Gebrselassie battle for gold at the Sydney Games - in slow motion backed with opera music. A bit of a do-it-yourself job, but quite marvelous just the same.

Tergat and Gebrselassie - Sydney 2000

2012 London Olympics 
 - Olympic 800m Recap
 - Olympic 1500m Recap
 - Olympic 3000m Steeplechase Recap
 - Olympic 5000m Recap
 - Olympic 10,000m Recap
 - Olympic Marathon Recap
 - Week One: The Olympic Vortex

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...