Photo Credit: playmakeronline.com
When was the last time the United States brought home such coveted hardware? It’s been a few years…well…more than a few years.
The last time it happened: Lyndon Johnson was President. The Beatles were just beginning their rise to pop-culture stardom. And a gallon of gas cost 30 cents.
The last time an American athlete brought home an Olympic medal in the long distance track events was in 1964, when Bob Schul took the gold in the men’s 5000m and Billy Mills won the 10,000m in dramatic fashion. It has been 48 years since the ’64 Games in Tokyo, and a 26-year-old, Portland, Oregon native finally put American distance running back on the Olympic map.
Placing himself comfortably in the middle of the pack through most of the race, U.S. 10,000m record-holder Galen Rupp moved up slowly behind the leaders before unleashing a potent kick in the last 200m to claim the silver medal in the 10K final. The only man to beat him was Mo Farah of Great Britain–his friend and training partner. Farah only edged Rupp out by .48 seconds (Farah – 27:30.42, Rupp – 27:30.90), but both finished comfortably ahead of reigning Olympic champ and WR holder, Kenenisa Bekela of Ethiopia (4th place) and his brother Tariku (3rd place).
Conversely, it has been much longer since Americans have experienced a stunning defeat. In fact, televisions didn’t even exist to document such a shortcoming.
For the first time since 1920, an American male athlete was not present on the medal podium for the 400m dash.
No U.S. 400m runners even advanced to the final. Reigning Olympic Champion LaShawn Merritt dropped out of the first round due to a hamstring injury. College sprinters-turned-Olympians Tony McQuay (U. Florida) and Bryshon Nellum (USC) struggled in their first Olympic experience. Admittedly, it’s difficult to peak for the NCAA Championships in June. and then extend one’s season to August. Nonetheless, the U.S. didn’t even have a fighting in an event that, for so long, has been dominated by athletes donning the stars and stripes.
But that’s the Olympics.
And let’s not distract ourselves from America’s two golden girls. Sanya Richards-Ross finally achieved her goal of becoming Olympic Champion by striding away from the field in the last 100 meters of the 400m dash. She finished with a time of 49.55 seconds and has immediately turned her attention to the 200m rounds.
Jenn Suhr claimed the gold medal the pole vault last night, clearing a height of 15 feet, 7 inches. She beat Yarisley Silva of Cuba by minimizing missed attempts, more notably, out-vaulted Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva–the 2008 Olympic gold medalist and defending champion.
Want to hear more about the events on the track in London? Check out last night’s Olympic coverage on The Runaround! Parker Morse of Running Times Magazine joined Greg, Brad, and Ryan on a monthly feature segment entitled “Around the Clock,” presented by Running Times. Hear the panel discussion of all the Olympic track action to date by clicking the link below.