• Olympic Runners (incl. Mo)

Last Wednesday morning was a mixed bag, much of it happening at the other end of the stadium (Decathlon Pole Vault, Long Jump, and Shot Putt). We saw some good running though: Decathlon 100m, and the heats of the men’s 5000m and the women’s 800m.  Here are a few distance shots from these races.

Britain’s Daniel Awde convincingly winning his 100m Decathlon heat.  Unfortunately, he was injured during the second event (long jump) and had to withdraw.  Here he is savouring his brief moment of glory:

Next race: 5000m, Heat 1.

UK’s Mo Farah – who won Gold in the 10,000m last Saturday – is in the further row, five from the left.

At the second bend, Farah was looking good in second place, but on successive laps he slipped back.  Keep an eye on the guy at the back, Rene Herrera from the Philippines.

By lap 4, Mo Farah (hidden) was in sixth place and Herrera was dropping off the back.

Both dropping back further, though the pack remained tight. Farah was subjected to excessive barging.

By the last lap, the runners were strung out.  Was Ferrera now in front?  No, he was about to be lapped…

Farah was in fourth but not looking fluent or at ease.

Ferrera is lapped on the back straight, Farah still in fourth place.

Somehow, Farah managed to finish third in his heat.  But his was 15th fastest time overall because Heat 2 was so much faster. His fellow UK runner, Nick McCormick, who ran in the second heat, posted a marginally faster time than Farah but didn’t make the final as one of the fastest losers.  Farah’s training partner Galen Rupp (USA), who gained a fantastic silver medal behind him in the 10,000m on Saturday, ran eight seconds faster than Farah.  So it was a tough race for Farah.  I hope, fingers and everything else crossed for this evening’s final, that Farah is back on tip-top form and that he achieves the double!

Meanwhile, …

Ferrera ploughed on to complete the race in 14’44”.  That was 80 seconds behind the winner.  Even so, he achieved a PB, which surely raises a question about the application of even entry standards in different countries. The second heat also had a valiant laggard, Ruben Sanca from Cape Verde, who was only nine seconds faster than Ferrera. Still, a (largely) British crowd loves someone who has a go, and both Ferrera and Sanca received almost as loud a roar of approval when they finished as did the winners!

The final track event was the women’s 800m, in six heats.  It was fascinating to see the imposing figure of the South African Caster Semenya, who finished second in the first heat, but posted the fastest time in the semis two days later. The major casualty was Merve Aydin in Heat 2, who sustained an injury in the first lap and bravely limped all the way round again to finish over 80 seconds behind the winner.

The curiosity – if such it can be termed – was the participation of runners from Muslim countries.

In Heat 6, Woroud Sawalha from Palestine posted a respectable, if slow time of 2’29”, 21 seconds behind the winner.

In Heat 7, it was the turn of the first female Olympic participant from Saudi Arabia, Sarah Attar.

It was, however, obvious from the start that Attar was out of her depth, as this shot of the first bend shows.  She’d not even run 100 metres and she had been overtaken by the other seven runners.  When the first runner crossed the line, Attar was still only 600m into the race.  She finished in 2’45” – a Saudi Arabian national record – 44 seconds after the winner.  It was great to see her able to participate, but there must be some Olympic rule-bending going on if this level of qualification is being allowed.  Yet again, however, the spectators roared and cheered on the gallant back runner.  A significant moment in Olympic history, but an odd one nevertheless.

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