Where Your Dreams Become Reality
2004 US Olympic Track and Field Trials Recap
Prior to the start of the women's 1500, much of the electricity or buzz that
normally precedes an Olympic Trials 1500 seemed to be lacking. Only one of the 5
fastest 1500 US runners over the last 2 years was even on the starting line,
Marla Runyan (Olympic A standard holder Suzy Favor Hamilton scratched before the
start, the other Olympic A standard holder Regina Jacobs had been thrown out of
the sport for being a drug cheat, and Olympic B standard holders Shayne
Culpepper and Tiffany McWilliams didn't enter the race). And if we told you
before the race that Runyan would drop out half-way into it, you'd probably
think the race wouldn't have been all that great.
Carrie Tollefson of adidas got things going early as she took the lead, passing through 200 in 33ish, 300 in 49.67, and 400 meters in 66.67. 800 meters into the race (2:14.56), the field was still tightly bunched together and 12 of the 14 finalists were still in contact. With 600 to go, Tollefson still led. Olympic 5000 team member Shalene Flanagan was in 2nd with Janet Trujillo in 3rd, Mary Jane Harrelson 4th and Jen Toomey fifth. With a lap to go (3:04.97), Tollefson still led as Toomey would move up to 2nd with 300 remaining.
Those two - Tollefson and Toomey would wage and epic battle over the final 300. They both wanted the victory badly as they both had been terribly disappointed earlier in the Trials in their main events. Tollefson had finished 5th in her specialty - the 5000 - and Toomey had finished 4th in her main event - the 800. Both were seeking redemption and their first Olympic bid this afternoon, and it showed as they both totally laid it on the line.
Tollefson and Toomey were clear of the field with 200 to go and it seemed as if Toomey was poised to strike on Tollefson who had led the entire race. However, Tollefson refused to give up her lead without a fight. She held Toomey off on the turn and down most of the finishing stretch. With about 30 meters remaining, Toomey finally grabbed the lead but Tollefson refused to give up, found one last surge and lunged past Toomey just before the tape to grab an scintillating victory in 4:08.32 to Toomey's 4:08.43. Tollefson led for probably 1480 of the 1500 meters. Incredible.
Another heartbroken runner, Amy Rudolph, who had finished fourth in the 5,000 earlier in the Trials, moved up very strong over the final 200 to pass Jenelle Deatherage just before finish to grab the third spot - wait this isn't like previous trials. Third doesn't even guarantee one a shot at the Olympics.
Now, things get very interesting and confusing. None of the finishers in today's race have the Olympic A or B standards so none of them may go to the Olympics. Suzy Favor Hamilton has the A and Marla Runyan had the B and thus even though the didn't run the race or finish it respectively, they will be named as one of 4 potential Olympians by USATF as will Tollefson and Toomey. Rudolph will have no shot at the Olympics unless Runyan (or Hamilton) declines her opportunity - which is possible considering Runyan is on the 5k team already and 5k/1500 double at the Olympics is a tough one as the first round of the 1500 is the day after the 5k.
The situation is ridiculous in our minds. We asked Runyan after the race if
she'd still consider going in the 1500 despite her struggles and she said, "I
didn't know it was possible." Neither did any of the reporters interviewing her
(except for us) but it certainly is the case.
CARRIE TOLLEFSON, adidas
"I don't know what happened. I was in the second position, so I knew I had to get out quickly. Leading from the gun to the end isn't my coach's first choice or mine. But you have to do what you have to do."
About not having the Olympic standard: "We know you have to run the standards to go to the Olympics. I ran 15.04 in the 5K, and I expected to make the 5K. But all of us are going to have to go to Europe and I expect all of us to run 4.05 and make the team.
JENNIFER TOOMEY, Nike
"This is the only the second 1,500 championship that I've run, and I was a nervous wreck before the race. I was going hard at the half, and I went all out at the end. I'm happy with that."
About not having the Olympic standard: "There is an opportunity for all of us to get into competitive races, and I have no doubt we will each get (the "A" standard."
AMY RUDOLPH, Nike
"I wanted to make the team badly. I went for it in the 5K. Today was just guts and desire to get me in the top three."
SARAH SCHWALD, Nike
"They wore me down early. If I go out too fast, I go anaerobic too soon and the wheels tend to fall off. In the prelims, we had a really slow first 400, and then a quick final 400, which I'm O.K. with. I figured at least one of the 5K runners would take it out strong to try and take the kick out of the milers. I'm surprised it wasn't faster, they went through in 66 on the first lap, and then the pace slipped a little."
MARLA RUNYAN, Nike
"I'm really tired, especially mentally. The heat has also taken a lot out of me. I hesitated today and didn't make a move when I needed to, and didn't have the fight I needed."
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