Thrilling finish caps off an exciting first day of competition at the 2012 Olympic Track & Field Trials.
EUGENE, Ore. — Heading into the women’s 10,000-meter final on Friday night as one of only four athletes in the race with an Olympic “A” standard qualifying time already under her belt, Amy Hastings was focused on nothing more than finishing amongst the top three in order to secure her spot on the Olympic team that will represent the United States later this summer in London.
With 100 meters to go, however, all of that changed, as Hastings swung wide off the final turn to kick past pre-race favorite Shalane Flanagan and Texas A&M’s Natosha Rogers to win in 31:58.36.
“When I hit two laps to go it was still just trying to be top three and then I guess in the last 100 meters, I don’t know, I flipped the switch and went for the gold,” said Hastings, who qualified for her first Olympic team.
Rogers, who was tripped up and fell just a mile into the race, finished second in a personal best 31:59.21, while Flanagan, who won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January and will run that event at the Olympic Games on August 5, crossed in third, running 31:59.69.
Because Rogers has not run under the Olympic “A” standard of 31:45, and Flanagan has elected to run only the marathon in London, the final two Olympic spots in the 10,000 go to fourth-place finisher Lisa Uhl (32:03.46) and seventh-place finisher Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (32:17.06), the only other women in the field besides Hastings and Flanagan to have run under the Olympic “A” standard in the last year. In order for a country to send three athletes to the Olympics in a given event, all three must have run under the designated Olympic “A” standard for that event in the previous calendar year.
“It was an ugly way to make the Olympic team,” Uhl said after the race. “But it’s a dream come true.”
Cherobon-Bawcom, who has been battling an “upper respiratory problem” this week, shared a similar sentiment, saying, ”Oh man, I’m just so excited. It’s just been really tough the last week.”
Wendy Thomas of Colorado led the early laps before unheralded Deb Maier of Cal Berkeley shot to the front just after the first mile. Maier led by as much as 25 yards halfway through the race while Flanagan was content to lead a large chase back 5 to 10 seconds behind, eventually reeling her in just after 5K.
With 2 miles to go there were still ten women in contention before the pace finally started to ratchet down with a little less than a mile to go. Hastings, Flanagan, Uhl, Rogers and Alisha Williams (5th, 32:08.51) were all together with 1,000 meters remaining when Hastings threw in a surge with two laps left. Flanagan was the first to respond as the penultimate lap was passed in 71 seconds. Flanagan and Rogers were out front with 150 meters to go before Hastings shot past them with a last ditch effort on the final straightaway to secure her first Olympic Trials title.
“I really wanted to make a team, like make a team and not be an alternate,” said Hastings, who finished fourth at the Olympic Marathon Trials in January, after the race. ”So this is really exciting.”