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US Olympic track and field trials

Boris Berian completes long-shot bid to make team

Clayton Murphy (left) and Boris Berian finished 1-2 in the 800-meter final.James Lang/USA Today Sports

EUGENE, Ore. — Boris Berian completed his journey from a burger flipper to Olympian, finishing second in the men’s 800-meter final at US Olympic Track Trials on Monday to book his trip to Brazil.

Less than two years ago, Berian was working at a fast-food restaurant. In less than two months, he'll be running in Rio.

Berian finished second in the 800-meter final behind Clayton Murphy to secure his spot in Rio. It’s been a long journey for the 23-year-old from Colorado Springs. Last month, he didn’t even know if he'd compete here because of a lawsuit filed by his former sponsor, Nike, over what kind of gear he wears. Nike dropped the lawsuit and Berian made it.


Charles Jock will join Berian and Murphy in Rio.

Kate Grace, Ajee Wilson, and Chrishuna Williams made the 800 team for the women. Alysia Montano had no such luck.

The runner who was cheated out of a medal by dopers at the last Olympics got tripped up on the second lap of the women’s 800 final and did not finish.

The first thing Montano thought was, ‘‘Get up. Get up.’’ By the time she finally did, everyone else was gone.

Montano saw her chance at an Olympic victory come up painfully short when she tripped over a competitor’s feet while lining up her last charge.

‘‘It doesn’t really settle in in that moment where you’re thinking, ‘This is it,’ ’’ Montano said about the split second when she hooked shoes with Brenda Martinez, who was stumbling after making contact with the leader and eventual runner-up, Wilson.

‘‘And then, you get up and they’re really far away. Your heart breaks.’’

Montano did get up. She jogged a bit, then stopped, fell to her knees, and began to wail as she kicked her foot to the ground in disgust.


She got up again and ran to the finish line, then collapsed to her knees, put her head on the ground, looked skyward, clutched her right hand to her heart and let out a primal wail.

‘‘All of a sudden, they came around the corner and she wasn’t there,’’ said her husband, Louis, who was watching from the side with their daughter, Linnea, who turns 2 next month. ‘‘It was heartbreaking.’’

Officials reviewed the tape and deemed the smash-up a result of incidental contact. They did not disqualify anyone. Asked if she would protest, Montano replied: ‘‘What good would that do me?’’

If anyone would know, it would be her.

The woman who showed her devotion to the sport by running on this track two years ago when she was eight months pregnant made herself the poster child for all athletes who've been robbed over the past several years by what investigators say is a state-sponsored Russian system that encourages doping among its athletes.

She finished fourth or fifth at 2011 and 2013 world championships, and at the London Olympics, behind Russians who were later found to have cheated. She may get medals for those races someday.

She will not get one this year, and the fact that the sport’s governing body, the IAAF, has called for the Russian track team to be banned from the Rio Games comes as small consolation for her.

‘‘Eight years of my life as a professional runner, and my entire professional career has been a farce, basically,’’ the 30-year-old said. ‘‘Now, people are saying Russians aren’t running in the Olympics, but they’re missing the whole point. The IAAF is a corrupt institution and it’s still running the games.’’


She tried to set all that anger aside coming into trials, knowing she would have no platform, no way to get her fair due, if she didn’t perform over three days of racing in Eugene this week.

She cruised into the final and, for 600 meters, everything looked fine. Boxed in on the rail in years past, she did what she'd been practicing all spring — moving out to Lane 3 to stay out of trouble and make her final push. She was vying for third place when the contact started.

‘‘I saw tripping. Brenda start to trip and Alysia start to fall,’’ said Grace, who picked an inside route and coasted past the trouble for the victory.

And Montano saw some dreams slip away.

‘‘There’s a lot of healing,’’ she said, ‘‘that has to happen beyond this race.’’

Army reservist Sam Kendricks now gets to represent his country in a whole new way.

On the Fourth of July, the second lieutenant captured the pole vault with an event-record jump of 19 feet, 4¾ inches that earned him a spot in Rio.

He proudly waved around his red, white and blue flag — with a little extra vigor, too.

‘‘I love to have the colors [of the flag] in my hands,’’ Kendricks said. ‘‘I'm lucky and I'm very thankful for the grace to befall on me that I get to do this and compete for my country.


‘‘My commitment to my country comes first and foremost.’’

It was a big day all around for the Armed Forces in the pole vault, with Air Force star Cale Simmons taking second. Logan Cunningham was third.

There were two other Air Force members in the field as well — Dylan Bell and Joey Uhle, who had a mishap with his pole when it snapped in the middle of one of his jumps. Uhle didn’t clear a height.

‘‘It messes with your mind a bit, throws you off your balance,’’ Uhle said.

Kendricks was proud of his fellow servicemen.

‘‘All great jumpers and serving their country on two fronts,’’ Kendricks said.

The 23-year-old certainly didn’t disappoint on this day as he set the trials record set by Tim Mack in 2004. It just so happened that Mack was on the sideline and encouraging Kendricks to top his mark.

Later, Mack placed the gold medal around Kendricks’s neck.

‘‘The meet record was a by-product of a lot of great jumping,’’ Kendricks said. ‘‘I was lucky enough to have a coach who had a plan.’’

For javelin thrower Sean Furey, turns out 11th place wasn’t so bad. Furey will be heading to Rio, because he was one of only three throwers in the final who had the Olympic standard.

Fourth-place finisher Sam Crouser is also going, as is the winner, Cyrus Hostetler, whose throw of 273 feet, 1 inch, was good for the title.


Normally, the top three finishers in an event would qualify. But since second-place Curtis Thompson and third-place Riley Dolezal hadn’t thrown the Olympic standard of 272 feet 3 inches this year, they are not eligible to go.

Joey Uhle’s chances for an Olympic spot all but ended when his pole broke on his first attempt. The pole smacked him on the kneecap and, though he lined up to jump again, he wasn’t quite the same. ‘‘It messes with your mind a bit, throws you off your balance,’’ he said.

Galen Rupp, Bernard Lagat and Lopez Lomong all made it through qualifying at 5,000 meters. If Rupp qualifies at 5K, he'll have to decide between that distance and the marathon. He’s already qualified for the 10K and plans on competing in that event.