The training partners and friends are looking to win their second medals.
Despite the fact that there were no distance finals at Olympic Stadium in London on Wednesday, there was still plenty of excitement and one major upset.
In the men’s 5,000m qualifying heats, Britain’s Mo Farah, the 10,000m gold medalist, completed his first step toward pulling off a double victory with a third-place finish in his qualifying heat. His time, good enough for advancing into the finals on Saturday, was a relatively pedestrian 13:26.00. For comparison, Farah ran his second 5K of his 10K win last Friday in 13:24.
“It was pretty difficult as I was tired,” he admitted to the BBC afterwards. “The heat took a bit more out of me than I was expecting, but I’m really happy with where I am now and I’ve got a couple of days off.”
The American 5,000-meter contingent had a successful day, as all three runners — Galen Rupp, Lopez Lomong, and Bernard Lagat — advanced to Saturday’s final. Rupp, who is Farah’s training partner, won the Olympic silver medal in the 10,000m last Friday. He ran his faster in his qualifying heat than than Farah, finishing sixth in 13:17.56.
“It’s great that it turned out to be fast,” Rupp said. “It’s easier on your body, even though you’re running fast, to just run even rather than having a wild sprint at the end. I was happy with it. I finished fine. I looked around the last 100, and knew I was all right.”
Both Rupp and Farah are coached by former Boston and New York City Marathon champion, Alberto Salazar.
Double Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat took fourth in the same heat (13:15.45), while Sudanese Lost Boy, Lopez Lomong, qualified in 13:26.16.
Team USA enjoyed equal success in the women’s 800-meter qualifying heats with Alysia Johnson Montano winning her heat in 2:00.47. Alice Schmidt and Geena Gall also ran qualifying times, putting three Americans in tomorrow’s semifinal round.
The women’s 1,500m semifinals were held on Wednesday evening. In the first of two heats, Americans Morgan Uceny and Shannon Rowbury faced off against Russia’s Ekaterina Kostetskaya, who owns a sub-4:00 time this year and is a favorite to medal. Kostetskaya took an early lead on the first lap with Uceny right on her shoulder in the outside part of lane one. The two ran side-by-side until the third lap when Asli Cakir Alptekin of Turkey injected a sudden surge of pace. This broke up the pack and several runners, including Kostetskaya, went with her. Uceny did not, however, sitting back and waiting to begin her finishing kick until she rounded the final turn. Alptekin won the race in 4:05.11 with Uceny finishing third in 4:05.32, automatically qualifying her for Friday’s final. Rowbury took fifth, qualifying for the final on time.
The upset of the day took place in the second 1,500m semifinal when reigning world champion, Jenny Simpson of the United States, failed to advance to the final. She finished last in the race with a time of 4:06.89, about seven seconds off her personal best in that distance. Abeba Aregawi of Ethiopia won the race in 4:01.03.