AJ ACOSTA was chosen by his teammates to be the Team Captain. Quite an honor for anyone. He also was chosen by yours truly as one of the most gracious hardluck guys I’ve ever met. On the first lap of his 1500m heat he fell. It was no ones fault. His foot coming up collided with another runner’s foot coming down. He was effectively out of the race. “That’s part of racing,” he said just after leaving the track. “I felt good and thought I had a good chance (to qualify).” He got up and gradually worked his way back into contention. But the pace was slow and when the real racing started he’d spent too much energy and couldn’t keep up. “I ran a smart race and I’m proud I never gave up. El Guerrouj fell and came back, so can I. I have to learn from it and move on.” That’s the attitude of a champion. Look for him in the future.
One of the tougher jobs is interviewing the athletes. Some can be terse, almost curt. Others are gracious and a pleasure to speak with. I just finished talking with AMY FOWLER, a surprise qualifier in the 3000m steeplechase. “I knew I could make it, but I knew I was right on the bubble time-wise. I’m so excited!” she exuded. Asked how she handled waiting for the race she replied, “I tried to stay calm but I really didn’t think about it too much. When I got to the track I felt really good warming up.”
Fowler, a frosh at BYU, graduated from Lake Travis HS in Texas. “I’m used to the heat, so it really didn’t bother me,” she answered when asked. She went on, “At the beginning of the season I never expected to be here. But I had confidence in my coaches and they said I could do it. My goal was to make the finals and I did.” Looks like Amy has to set a new goal.
For the first time in recent memory, no American male athlete made the 100m final. GORDON McKENZIE got knocked out in the first heat and WILLIE PERRY, the World Junior leader at 10.12, had hamstring problems and was never a factor in his semi. Garry Hill, Chief Announcer and Editor of T&FN reported, “It looked like he pulled up at about 98 meters.”
KARJUAN WILLIAMS, the top high schooler at 1:49.97, is on the track now. Unfortunately, he runs the usual USA-type race, believing he has the speed to run with these guys over the last 100m. He doesn’t and finishes fifth in 1:51.38, 1.18 out of an automatic qualifying spot. Still, it’s not a bad performance considering he lost almost all his base due to an injury in early spring that cost him a month’s training time.
REBEKAH NOBLE ran either a very smart race or a very dumb one. She ran at the back of the pack for almost the entire way and then sprinted in to barely nab one of the automatic qualifying spots, finishing second in 2:08.97, the same time as the third place finisher and .05 in front of fourth. It was a smart race in that it’s quite hot here and you need to conserve every bit of energy you can. It was dumb since had anything bad happened she’d have had to rely upon nabbing one of the next four fastest spots, always a gamble. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and call it a very smart race.