LONDON — As the bell sounded for the final lap of the women’s 1,500, American Morgan Uceny appeared in perfect position Friday night. She was part of a large pack, comfortably running on the outside of Lane 1. She looked strong, ready to shift gears in what had been a slow pace. Then the unimaginable happened. She fell, her feet apparently clipped by either the Ethiopian beside her, the Kenyan behind her, or the Russian in front of her. Even from slow-motion replays, It wasn’t clear what caused her to tumble. As Uceny knelt on the Olympic Stadium track, she slammed both hands against the surface. Then she put her hands over her face and sobbed. She left the stadium without speaking with reporters, but released a statement. late Friday night.
“Statement from Uceny to come…”
Given her recent history in championship 1,500-meter races, it’s likely one thought rushed through her mind. Not again. Uceny also fell during the 1,500 final at last year’s world championships. She entered the world championships ranked No. 1 and arrived in London as the US champion and a strong medal contender. An American has never medaled in the women’s 1,500, which debuted at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Turkey’s Cakir Alptekin won in 4 minutes and 10.23 seconds, followed by countrywoman Gamze Bulut in 4:10.40 and Bahrain’s Maryam Yusuf Jamal in 4:10.74. Although the final lap was fast, the rest of the race was slow and tactical.
“She was clipped and she went flying,” said British runner Lisa Dobriskey. “She was just a couple places in front of me. I feel really bad for her because that’s her second major championship that she’s fallen in. It must be really tough.”Asked if she saw who clipped Uceny, Dobriskey said, “It was just a mess, to be honest. I’m not too sure. There were too many bodies together running too comfortably. We were very itchy and edgy, waiting to go. It was just a really scrappy race. It was just too many bodies in too slow a race.”
Collision courseMembers of the American 4 x 100 relay team left the Olympic track believing anything’s possible — maybe even a win over Usain Bolt. With Justin Gatlin running the anchor leg, the US broke a 20-year-old national record in its preliminary round, finishing in 37.38 seconds. The former record, set in 1992, with Carl Lewis running the anchor leg, was 37.40. ‘‘We’re going to figure out a way to go out there and compete with them,’’ Gatlin said. ‘‘We’re not scared of them.’’One small problem: Jamaica running in the evening’s opening heat, was only 100th of a second slower than the US, and that was with Bolt on the sideline.In the final Saturday, Bolt will take Kemar Bailey-Cole’s place on the anchor leg, while Nesta Carter, Michael Frater and 100 and 200 runner-up Yohan Blake will run in the first three spots, as they did in the preliminaries
The US and Jamaican times were the fourth- and fifth-fastest ever recorded, and based on the times run Friday — the American women set a world record at 40.82 seconds in their final later in the evening — the men’s mark of 37.04, set by Jamaica at last year’s world championships, appears reachable.
In the preliminaries, the US went with former Florida football player Jeff Demps, Darvis Patton, Trell Kimmons and Gatlin, this year’s 100-meter bronze medalist. Tyson Gay, who finished fourth in the 100 and is still in search of his first Olympic medal, figures to earn a spot in the final.
Bahamas stun USRamon Miller of the Bahamas chased down Angelo Taylor of the US in the men’s 4 x 400-meter final to win his country’s first gold medal in a relay won by America at every other Olympics since 1984. Miller lifted the Bahamas to a time of 2:56.72, .33 seconds better than the US. Trinidad and Tobago took third.The South African team, anchored by double amputee Oscar Pistorius, fell behind well before Pistorius received the baton and finished last.
Taylor, a 400-meter hurdler, was thrust into the lineup after a flurry of injuries hit the Americans. LaShawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner both pulled out before the preliminaries, where Manteo Mitchell ran the last 200 meters of the opening lap with a broken leg.Meanwhile, US and Jamaica advanced to the final of the women’s 4 x 400-meter relay.Both high-profile teams easily won their preliminary heats. With 400 bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter running the anchor leg after Keshia Baker, Francena McCorory and Diamond Dixon circled the track, the Americans finished in 3 minutes, 22.09 seconds.Jamaicans Christine Day, Shereefa Lloyd, Shericka Williams and Rosemarie Whyte won the opening heat in 3:25.13.