Saturday, August 18, 2012

Olympic 1500m Recap

Leo Manzano - Olympic silver medalist
Continuing a short series of posts - A quick look back at the 1500m Olympic Finals:

Following an uncharacteristically good showing at Worlds last year (Simpson winning the womens title - go Buffs!, Centrowitz taking mens bronze) there was some question as to whether the Olympic contingent could continue to punch above their weight. What our milers lack in raw speed seems to be balanced by their collective savvy as racers. The men did not disappoint.

Manzano (triumphant) and Centrowitz at the line
Leo Manzano and Matt Centrowitz both made it through heats to the finals and followed a slow pace to the bell along with most of the field. The eventual champion from Algeria broke the race open on the backstretch with an improbable surge covered by the race favorites from Kenya and Ethiopia. All of these men but the Algerian faded badly on the homestretch where Manzano reeled them in with the closing acceleration he's known for, climbing the ladder to a silver medal (3:34:79). Centrowitz followed closely, barely losing out on bronze (3:35:17). Manzano's kick to glory was reminiscent of his win at the Trials and at Indoor Nats in Albquerque this February (where he incidentally kicked down Rupp and Centrowitz). A marvelous run for the Americans and a vindication that US runners are once again a threat on the elite level. Manzano in silver claimed the first American Olympic 1500m medal since Jim Ryun in 1968 (yes, Jim Ryun). Results here (Race video here - beginning at 2:28:00)

Uceny - an Olympic final (and years of work) abruptly fade
While the US men performed way above expectation, the women ran nearly the opposite. All of the Americans were possible medal threats with current world number one Morgen Uceny, defending world champ Jenny Simpson (go Buffs!), and Shannon Rowbury a former worlds bronze medalist. Simpson inexplicably washed out in the heats, and Uceny - repeating the disaster of last year's World Championships - tripped up in traffic and crashed to the track at the bell, failing to finish. Absolutely crushing to see that happen to her in two straight championships. Rowbury hung on for a solid 6th place finish (4:11:26). Results here (Race video here - beginning at 2:04:27)

A bit of video of Ryun at the Mexico City Games. The Kenyans intentionally drive the pace to use the 7000ft altitude to their advantage. Ryun leaves it way too late to respond. Kip Keino's winning time - at altitude, in 1968 - was less than a second shy of the winning time in London (3:34:86).

Keino vs. Ryun in Mexico City - 1968

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

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