Beijing Dispatch: Oregon athletes abound in Beijing

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Kara Goucher runs the 10,000 meters.

By Dr. Bob Elliott

Finally, after many days of anticipation, track and field competition has begun!  Many of the U.S. visitors attending the athletic competitions are well informed about most, if not all of the track and field events. The majority of individuals from the U.S. with whom we have talked are from California or Oregon. 

Yesterday, during our bus ride from the hotel to the Bird’s Nest stadium, we met Jon Anderson, (pictured below) a U.S. Olympian who ran the 10,000 meters at the Munich Games in 1972.  Jon, a long-time Eugene resident continues to be play an integral role in “Tracktown USA” athletics. During our conversation, Jon was very modest in discussing his incredible athletic accomplishments. He began his competitive running career as a student at Sheldon High School.  Bill Bowerman, the legendary track coach at the University of Oregon and a longtime family friend, taught Anderson the fundamentals of distance running at the beginning of his running career. Anderson was the first athlete to win an international event wearing Nike shoes.

As we arrived at the Olympic Green and the Bird’s Nest stadium, we were amazed with the architectural beauty.   However, when we reached our seats we discovered that many spectators in the top levels of the stadium (including us) had limited views of the huge video monitors.  Since the seats are so far away from the competition floor, many spectators must rely on the screens to see the competition. In addition, we were reliant on the monitors to identify the competitors, since there are no published programs or heat sheets available at the venue.
 
Yesterday’s track and field competition offered a mixture of exhilarating performances and a few disappointments.  Shalene Flanagan’s performance in the 10K exceeded all expectations!  What an exciting time to be a track and field enthusiast. Flanagan ran her own race and did not let the blistering pace (15:12 first half) upset her strategy. Running at 30:22.22, Flanagan finished in 3rd place and was awarded the Bronze Medal.  She set a new U.S. record in the 10K, breaking her previous American record of 30:34:49.  Kara Goucher, who is based in Portland, fell off the blistering pace and finished in 10th place with a time of 30:55.16  Amy Begley-Yoder, who trains with Goucher, finished 26th in 32:38.28.

In the Women’s 800 meter qualifying heats, Nicole Teter pulled out of the competition after running about 100 meters.  For the last two weeks Nicole has been nursing an undiagnosed Archilles injury. She stated that, “I’ve had a two week semi-unknown injury in my Archilles area.  Our medical team has done so much for me since I’ve been here.  I really thought I could just step back on the track and get through it.  This is the Olympics.  I had to go for it.  My first stride, I just couldn’t get on my toes.  I went as far as I could and I just couldn’t do it.”  She was in tears as she slowly made her way off of the track.  Our other two women’s 800 meter competitors did not advance.

Later today we will witness U.S. athletes as they compete in the Finals of the Men’s 100 meters and Women’s Shot Put. Everyone in Beijing is anticipating long-awaited matchup between Tyson Gay (U.S.), Usain Bolt (Jamaica) and Asafa Powell (Jamaica).   We’re also looking forward to watching Galen Rupp, University of Oregon phenom and 2008 Olympic Trials runner-up, in the 10,000 meter Final, and Eugene resident, Jesse Williams, in the qualifying round of the High Jump. We’ll report on the exciting results of these competitions tomorrow.

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