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Fam Goes Wire to Wire in Men's Steeple Final

by: LetsRun.com
July 5, 2008
*LRC Saturday Photos

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.

Battle for 2nd

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 All Alone

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.

Fam, Nelson, and McAdams (10 Minutes)

Anthony Famiglietti(1:11)

Billy Nelson 8:21.47 PR (:18)

Brian Olinger (2:39)

1 Anthony Famiglietti adidas 8:20.24
2 William Nelson Colorado 8:21.47
3 Joshua McAdams New Balance 8:21.99
4 Jacob Morse Texas 8:34.48
5 Daniel Huling Reebok 8:35.30
6 Michael Spence IBR / Asics 8:35.48
7 Brian Olinger Reebok 8:36.09
8 Jordan Desilets unattached 8:38.84
9 Jacques Sallberg Run With Us 8:40.49
10 Corey Nowitzke unattached 8:47.10
11 Kyle Alcorn Arizona State 8:47.30
12 Benjamin Bruce unattached 8:52.40
-- Steve Slattery Nike DNF 
-- Anderson Smith Reebok DNS 

Men's 200 Semis: Tyson Gay out of Quarters
The big news coming out of Saturday's quarterfinals was world champion Tyson Gay falling to the track less than 15 meters into the race with a bad cramp and not advancing to the semi-finals.  He did not advance to the semis and will therefore only contest the 100 meters as an individual event in Beijing.  Still deep, the 200 field for the finals figures to be tough to predict now.  

HEAT ONE: Rodney Martin the Fastest Time of the Day
2007 World championship bronze medallist Wallace Spearmon looked very confident, cruising across the finish line but he was edged by Rodney Martin, 20.04 to 20.05 as both advanced with ease.  Walter Dix, already on the team in the 100, looked good in third (20.09) while Charles Clark also advanced.  The only mild surprise was 8th seed Jordan Vaden finishing fifth in 20.66 to miss the final by .18.

Heat  1 Semi-Finals   Wind: 2.2
1 Rodney Martin Nike 20.04Q
2 Wallace Spearmon Nike 20.05Q
3 Walter Dix Florida State 20.09Q
4 Charles Clark Florida State 20.48Q
5 Jordan Vaden adidas 20.66
6 J-Mee Samuels Arkansas 20.67
7 John Capel unattached 20.81
8 Chris Dykes Texas A&M 20.97

HEAT TWO: Shawn Crawford Cruises:
Defending Olympic Gold medalist Shawn Crawford was explosive, pulling well clear of the field by 100 meters and extending it through 150 before shutting things down and running 20.21 into a light head-wind.  Xavier Carter was a comfortable second in 20.55 while Rubin Williams and  Bernard Williams also advanced.  Evander Wells just missed advancing, placing fifth.

Heat  2 Semi-Finals   Wind: -0.9
1 Shawn Crawford Nike 20.21Q
2 Xavier Carter Nike 20.55Q
3 Rubin Williams Tennessee 20.56Q
4 Bernard Williams adidas 20.60Q
5 Evander Wells Tennessee 20.80
6 Mickey Grimes Nike 20.96 20.956
7 Michael Ray Garvin unattached 20.96 20.959
-- Michael Lawrence unattached DNF

Women's 200 Semis
Unlike the men's 200, the key players have advanced to Sunday's final.

Bianca Knight set an American Junior record of 22.53, edging 100 meter fourth-placer Marshevet Hooker by .02.  Olympians Lauryn Williams and  Torri Edwards also advanced.

Heat  1 Semi-Finals   Wind: -0.1
1 Bianca Knight adidas 22.53Q
2 Marshevet Hooker adidas 22.55Q
3 Lauryn Williams Nike 22.59Q
4 Torri Edwards Nike 22.66Q
5 LaShaunte'a Moore adidas 23.02
6 Alexandria Anderson unattached 23.21
7 Charonda Williams Arizona State 23.37
8 Porscha Lucas Texas A&M 23.44

HEAT TWO: Allyson Felix top Time
World Champion Allyson Felix and Trials 100 meter champ Muna Lee hit halfway stride for stride, but Felix pulled away, seemingly effortlessly, down the homestretch to ruun the fastest time by an American this year, 22.22.  Shalonda Solomon and Carmelita Jeter also advanced, with Ebonie Floyd, the fourth seed entering the meet, finishing fifth and not advancing.

Heat 2 Semi-Finals Wind: +0.0
1 Allyson Felix adidas 22.22Q
2 Muna Lee Nike 22.33Q
3 Shalonda Solomon Reebok 22.48Q
4 Carmelita Jeter Nike 22.61Q
5 Ebonie Floyd Nike 22.63
6 Stephanie Durst Nike 22.99
7 Mikele Barber Nike 23.04
8 Leslie Cole Oklahoma 23.24

More at http://www.nbcolympics.com


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