Heading into this past weekend’s Diamond League meet in Paris, the magic number for Leo Manzano and Lopez Lomong was 3:35.00.
Both middle-distance runners needed to run under that time for 1500 meters to secure spots on the team that will represent the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow this coming August, and both came through in the clutch, finishing in 3:33.14 and 3:34.55, respectively.
Manzano’s performance earned him third place, behind winner Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti (3:32.55) and runner-up Aman Wote of Ethiopia (3:32.65). Lomong, who’s battling a hamstring injury, finished 10th, accomplishing his personal goal of running negative splits, according to Letsrun.com.
For Manzano, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist at 1500 meters, achieving the “A” standard was the main goal, though he said after the meet that he didn’t feel a tremendous amount of pressure going into Paris. Rather, the 28-year-old Mexican-born star feels he’s hitting his stride following the break he took after his London performance.
“I feel like I’m just now starting to come back,” Manzano said. “The lion is out of hibernation.”
Less successful in Paris was 23-year-old Matthew Centrowitz, who took bronze in the 1500 meters at the 2011 World Championships. Centrowitz started “favoring what appeared to be his hamstring” with about 250 meters to go, according to Letsrun, and he wound up dropping out of the race.
Centrowitz, the U.S. 1500-meter champion, is slated to join Manzano and Lomong on the Moscow-bound U.S. squad, and while his apparent injury led to speculation that he might not be able to compete, his coach, Alberto Salazar, assured the media that Centrowitz is fine. He blamed the bad race on exhaustion brought on by jet lag and said that Centrowitz will be ready for the Diamond League meet in Monaco on July 19.
"It's the first race he has ever dropped out of in his life," Salazar said, according to Oregonlive.com. "He is embarrassed, but he’s completely okay."
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg