Sara Hall faces some hurdles in reaching her goal of making the U.S. team for the London Games, but they aren’t there by accident.
“I’ve started to feel like the steeplechase is my own,” said Hall, 29, after finishing second in 9:45.55 in Monday night’s semifinal of the 3000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, OR. “Last year I was so focused on the hurdles that I wasn’t really engaged in the competition.”
Not until the 2011 Pan Am Games, at least. There, Hall won her first international gold medal. “It was then that I felt I was able to compete,” she said.
Hall, who has run mostly at 1500 meters and 3000 meters in her career, ran her first steeple in 2009 and has gradually shifted her emphasis in that direction. “It’s started to feel like an event that really suits my personality, and I wish I would have done it earlier, but it’s really fun to keep discovering new things and new challenges in this sport after doing it for so many years,” she said. “I love the obstacles in it. You have to be aggressive; you have to constantly be changing pace. That kind of suits me. I like the challenges and the tactics of it.”
She said that she and her husband, Ryan—who took second place in the Olympic Marathon Trials in January to qualify for the London Games—have long been dreaming of going to an Olympics together.
“It would be a highlight of my life, for sure,” she said. “We feel like it’s going to happen, so I’m excited to do my part and do everything I can to walk hand in hand into the opening ceremonies together.”
Notes: Fleshman Makes Final
Winning their preliminary rounds of the women’s 5000 meters were Elizabeth Maloy in 15:46.00 and Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth University in 15:41.14. Improbably, Lauren Fleshman finished sixth in her prelim, running 15:51:53. “I don’t know how it happened, but I made the final. I can’t believe it. I’m overwhelmed. I didn’t think it could happen.” Fleshman, battling an iliotibial band injury, hasn’t run more than 11 miles a week in training for months, trying to get by on cross-training, and hasn’t managed more than two miles at a stretch. “It’s some of the most creative coaching in the history of coaching, to somehow make the final of the Olympic Trials final on very little running,” she said of her coach, Mark Rowland. “I knew it would be a big task, but I figured, why not try? I’m 30 years old. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing this. The last thing I wanted to do was watch what could be my last Olympic Trials from the sidelines because I was too chicken to at least put myself out there.” … Bernard Lagat finished second in his preliminary round of the 5000 meters, in 13:42.83, behind winner Lopez Lomong’s 13:42.81. In the final, he will race against his brother, Robert Cheseret, who finished fifth in the earlier preliminary heat. Lagat said they worked it out together and think this will be the first time they’ve met on the track since 2006. “It’s going to be nice, man,” Lagat said afterward. “To be honest, I wasn’t concentrating properly before my race, because with 200 meters to do he was number three and I was like, ‘Go, Robert!’ I’ll be running with my brother in the final, so you know my mother is going to be getting a call tonight.” … Ben True finished third in his 5000-meter prelim, in 13:43.12, behind Lomong and Lagat, and does not yet have the Olympic “A” standard. He said he knows that he might have to be the one to make sure the final is sufficiently fast. “I don’t know if anybody out there is going to want to help me,” he said with a huge smile.
“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