Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Fam Goes Wire to Wire in Men's Steeple Final
Saturday only saw one final on the track the men's steeple final, but there was plenty of action. Some of the biggest news was on athletes who didn't advance. Tyson Gay fell over injured at the start of the 200 quarterfinals and 3 time World Champ and 1 time Olympic Champ Allen Johnson, had to stop in the hurdles with an injury, ending his chance for one more Olympic team.
Men's 3000 Steeplechase Final: Fam Wire to Wire
With a thick beard and looking like he had just returned from months in isolation on a mountainside (Fam did come down from Flagstaff this week so its not too far off), Anthony Famiglietti evoked memories of Steve Prefontaine, albeit in the steeplechase, by running bravely and aggressively from the start, setting a blistering early tempo with laps of 62.3, 65.5, 66.9 and 66.9 to go through four laps in 4:21.5. Early on, Brian Ollinger, who had looked very good in Thursday's prelims, went with Fam with Daniel Huling in tow. Steve Slattery led the chase pack about three seconds back in fourth place but was passed by six people after finishing lap three. Heading into that water jump, he fell hard and then didn't finish.
Up-front, Ollinger began to pay for trying to go with Fam and after five laps was in real trouble as a hard-charging Josh McAdams (the 2007 champ), Texas' Jacob Morse (2nd in NCAA indoor mile) and Colorado's Billy Nelson (2nd at NCAAs) were coming on strong. Hitting the water barrier after five laps, Nelson and McAdams surged passed Ollinger who struggled home to seventh place after his early attempt to make the Olympic team.
With a lap to go, Fam was way out in front, but Nelson and McAdams were racing hard and well clear of the rest of the competitors. And for Nelson, there was real urgency as he was the only one of the top three who did not yet have the Olympic A standard of 8:24.60. Needing a sub-66 final lap, he came through with an inspired last circuit of 62.5, with McAdams right on his heels. It even appeared that the duo might overtake Fam, but after running laps of 66.7, 67.2 and 67.7 to settle slightly after coming through four laps in 4:21.5, Fam picked it up again heading into the final water jump to cross first in an inspired 8:20.24 in a race he led wire to wire.
Morse was over twelve seconds back in fourth while Michael Spence ran a smart race to move up to sixth behind Huling.
Afterwards, Fam gave away his clothes left and right on his victory lap and he ended up shirtless and shoeless by the time his lap was done. He then came into the media area, started singing the first line of the national anthem, then gave an entertaining interview. Fam talked about his love for Beijing and the Chinese people (he won the World University Games in Beijing), but his mixed emotions of competing in totalitarian China. Fam's comments even got picked up in the NY Times, "I had a lot of moral dilemmas about making this team and going to a country that is suppressing the human rights of individuals in their country and individuals in Tibet." Fam even made the comparison to the Berlin Olympics and the US delegation saluting Hitler and then added, "And I think about how bad it got after they left Berlin."
Fam also said his goal for Beijing was for a medal, a "bronze" one, saying, "I'm going to sneak in there and try to get that bronze. (NY Daily News profile with this quote here)" When asked why bronze and not gold Fam said he has come to the realization that people cheat, but he hopes to beat some of the "dirty jerks."
Nelson joins Colorado teammate Jenny Barringer on the US steeple team. He was quick to credit coach Mark Wetmore for peaking him when it counts most (Nelson prd in both the semis and the final).
Everyone we talked to in the field said they expected Fam was trying to go and take it out hard. Dan Hulin and Brian Olinger tried to stay closest to Fam, and paid the biggest price, but both afterwards said they wouldn't change their race strategy if they could run the race again. They both said the steeple is a race where you have to be aggressive.
-- Anderson Smith Reebok DNS
Men's 200 Semis: Tyson Gay out of Quarters
HEAT ONE: Rodney Martin the Fastest Time of the Day
Heat 1 Semi-Finals Wind: 2.2
HEAT TWO: Shawn Crawford Cruises:
Heat 2 Semi-Finals Wind: -0.9
Women's 200 Semis
Heat 1 Semi-Finals Wind: -0.1
HEAT TWO: Allyson Felix top Time