It’s been a week of “oops moments” in track & field.
First there was Katy Andrews at the BYU Robison Invitational. Andrews was leading the 3000 meter steeplechase when her spikes caught just before the water jump and she failed to jump and instead went head first into the water pit.
This spectacular fall, which Andrews herself uploaded to YouTube, has gone viral but if that nine second clip isn’t enough for you, you can see the fall from another angle, in super slow motion, as well as a sequence of photos shot by BYU photographer Jaren Wilkey. Andrews was leading the race at the time of her fall and she resumed running after the fall. But after running two more laps, her coaches convinced her to drop out so they could check her for any injuries.
The next day at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University, 2008 1500 meter Olympian Lopez Lomong, running his first competitive 5000 meter race since his college days miscounted the laps and kicked one lap too early. He started to surge away from the pack at the 4200 meter mark (two laps to go). David Torrance gave chase while the rest of the pack was content to let them go because there were still two laps to go. Torrance would later say that he knew there were two laps to go but he wanted to cover Lomong’s move because he was going for the win. Lomong ran a blistering 54 second lap on what he thought was the last lap but actually was the penultimate lap. After raising his arms in victory and slowing to a stop the crowd and officials started yelling to him that he still had one more lap. No one had passed him yet so Lomong took off running again! He somehow managed to run a 66 second last lap despite the stop and the tremendous lactic acid build-up he likely had in his legs. The results sheet will show him with a 2012 world leading and Olympic A standard time of 13:11.63, three seconds ahead of second place.
Lomong’s early kick reminded me of an indoor race I watched many years ago involving Suzy Favor Hamilton. After some research I found the details from that race. It was the mile at the 1994 Mobil Invitational indoor track & field meet in Fairfax, Virginia. The race was eight laps and pitted Hamilton against the reigning Olympic 1500 meter champion Hassiba Boulmerka of Algeria. Hamilton kicked on what she thought was the last lap to pull ahead of Boulmerka. But there was still one lap to go. When Hamilton heard the bell for the final lap ringing she shouted “Oh no!” and you could see the shock on her face. Unlike Lomong, Hamilton did not get back in the race and Boulmerka would win with a time of 4:28.64.
It turns out this was not Hamilton’s only lap counting goof. At the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle, Washington, then still in college at the University of Wisconsin, she got disoriented on the track and didn’t start her kick until it was too late, finishing fourth in a race that many thought she could have won.
To err is human, so next time you make a boo-boo remember at least your mistake isn’t being written up in the newspaper or posted as a video on the internet.
Malinda and I are having our first Olympic experiences. On Sat night we watched the Men’s 100 on TV. Even in Chinese, Usain Bolt was fast! 9.69 and he was celebrating the last 20-30 meters. You won’t see an SHC sprinter not running through the finish line like that! Then Sun morning we were able to watch the Women’s marathon on TV. Too bad about Deena and Magda.
We came back into Beijing and on our way to pick up some more tickets we see an American woman walking on the street and Malinda goes “Is that Shalane’s mom?” Shalane, as in bronze medalist and American Record holder Shalane Flanagan. Because Shalane has the same coach as Shannon, we’ve gotten to know Shalane’s mom. So standing on a street in the middle of Beijing we got a first hand account from mom on her daughter’s 10,000. Shalane’s mom is a former World Record holder in the marathon so she knows the sport but still, you could feel her excitement and pride in her daughter. It was very cool.
We rushed to the Bird’s Nest on Sun night to catch our first Olympic competition. What a place! I’ll have some flip videos to show when we get home. Bolt’s medal ceremony, World Record in the Women’s Steeplechase, 1-2-3 sweep in the Women’s 100 by Jamaica, Lagat not making it to the 1500 Final, more hammer and triple jump than I’ve ever watched, and a 2nd straight 10,000 meter gold by Bekele (53 last lap; Gebriesallasie gave it a good fight, led for a lap late but faded to 6th). The Jamaicans and the Ethiopians were going nuts in the stands when their athletes did well. All very cool. On the way out we spotted a crowd of Chinese around a tall black man…..it was Lopez Lomong (US 1500 runner, US flag bearer for the Opening Ceremonies, and one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” of HBO documentary fame – Shannon seems to be good friends with him). I like Lopez a lot so it was nice to get a picture with him and shake his hand (I told him he did a good job holding the flag).
According to the IAAF schedule (www.iaaf.org), there is no Women’s 1500 prelim on Aug 19….so I think it is cancelled. This iaaf website is the best place for schedules and results. If you have time, enter their fantasy league – maybe you can beat the Track Widow or the Chanman.
We’re in a Holiday Inn Express with free internet (and laundry – thank God), so time permitting there should be some good updates coming. I’m almost disappointed Shannon’s 1st round race was cancelled…I am getting anxious to see her race in the Olympic Games!