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Former Ducks have Mixed Results at World Championships

By Steve Ritchie / Special to the Statesman Journal
August 16, 2013


Matthew Centrowitz

Moscow, Russia - Two former University of Oregon Ducks took to the track of Luzhniki Stadium on Friday night - one left disappointed, while the other is feeling confident and looking forward to running for a medal on Sunday.

Distance ace Galen Rupp took eighth in a speed up - slow down, tactical 5000 meters, which was won by his training mate, Mo Farah of Great Britain.

Six-time World Championship medalist Bernard Lagat was sixth. Earlier in the evening, Matthew Centrowitz survived a fast semifinal heat in the 1500 meters to qualify for Sunday's final. Centrowitz moved from last place at the bell to second on the final curve and he coasted to the finish in second in 3:35.95. The former Oregon star, who like Rupp and Farah trains in Portland under Alberto Salazar, has now made three consecutive 1500 meter finals in major championships, finishing third at the world meet in 2011 and fourth at the Olympics last summer.

With his win in the 5000, Farah is closing in on the "greatest of all time" tagline. He completed a very tough "double-double," winning the 5000 and the 10,000 at both the London Olympics and at these World Championships, and has now won five gold medals in the past three major Olympic and World Championships.

Rupp, who won a silver medal in the Olympic 10,000 meters last summer, did not fare as well here in Moscow. The 27-year-old former Central Catholic and Oregon star placed fourth in the 10,000 meters last Saturday night, and had hoped to bounce back strongly in the race tonight.

The 5000 final started out at a jog, and then was a series of quick surges, followed by a return to a slower pace. It stayed that way until the last 800 meters, when the sprinting started. Farah's scorching 53.5 last lap clinched it for him. Rupp was, again, in it all the way, and ran a more than respectable final two laps. But, eighth place was not at all what he had in mind when he came to Moscow.

Asked about the slow, uneven pace, Rupp said, "It's always a possibility. You never know for sure how it's going to go, but we just try to prepare for everything and do the best we can. Just got to get back to training, and go on to the next one."Mo ran really well. He just does what he's always done. He's a great closer and I'm really happy for him."

After a shaky start in the opening round, Centrowitz looked just like the savvy runner with a lethal kick that has had success in championship races over the last three years.

"It's three for three now," Centrowitz said. "(There's) no time to enjoy it right now, I gotta gear up in two days and fight again."

While his 2013 season of racing has been up and down, Centrowitz said his confidence was building here."The thing about the 1500 is there is always three rounds to build you up. The first round is always the most iffy. I gained confidence going through the rounds and I am definitely confident going into the finals."

It has been noted that his dad, Matt Centrowitz, Sr., made the 1980 U.S. Olympic team but was unable to compete in the Moscow Olympics due to the decision by President Jimmy Carter to boycott the Games over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The track and field portion of the Olympics took place in the same stadium where the World Championships are being held. While his father is not here in person, Centrowitz said he appreciates his support more than ever now.

"I talked to him last night" Centrowitz said. "Lately, it's been really nice having conversations with my dad. In the past he was always telling me what I needed to work on. Now that I'm at this stage of my career, he takes a lot of the pressure off of me. Alberto's the one to put the pressure on and my dad's like reassuring me that I'll run well.

"It's always tough in our career, but he doesn't make it seem like I'm expected to win or do this. He just presents it like if I don't do something amazing it's alright because I'm still young and I've done pretty good so far."

Asked if Matt Centrowitz, Sr. told his son to go win the medal that he missed out on competing for, the younger Centrowitz just laughed and said,"No, he's a been a great parent, but now that I've made the finals I'm sure he's going to say that."

Notes . . . Eight-time world gold medalist Allyson Felix tore her hamstring in the 200 meter final on Friday evening. Felix said in a written statement that it was a serious injury and that she was "extremely devastated." . . . A young U.S. 4 x 400 relay team, averaging just 23 years of age, easily won the gold on Friday in 2:58.71. Anchor LaShawn Merritt got the baton in first and easily pulled away to the win . . . All three American 800 meter runners - Brenda Martinez, Ajee Wilson and Alysia Montano - qualified for Sunday's final . . . Ryan Whiting of the U.S. took
second in the shot put behind Germany's David Storl . . . American men were shut out in the long jump.

 
 

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