Thursday, May 5, 2011

Three USA athletes reach Olympic standards as qualifying begins

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The USA had the first three track and field athletes to post 2012 Olympic "A" qualifying marks as the international qualifying period (for races shorter than 10,000 meters) opened this month.

At Stanford's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational Sunday evening, Olympian Jill Camarena-Williams – a Cardinal grad — put the shot 62 feet, one-half inch, while Emma Coburn of the University of Colorado and Billy Nelson achieved their standards in the women's and men's 3,000-meter steeplechase races.

That meet also produced 2011 world leading times in the men's and women's 10K races (where event qualifying opened Jan. 1) – and expanded those qualifying lists dramatically from nine to 31 total athletes.

Coburn's steeplechase time of 9 minutes, 40.5 seconds leads the 2011 world lists and makes her the No. 11 all-time American (and No. 8 all-time collegian).

Nelson, a Colorado grad from Taft, Calif., is No. 2 in the world this year in the men's race at 8:22.44. He is the only runner to achieve the Olympic standard since the worldwide qualifying period opened this month — according to the latest international time postings. The 2008 Olympian was just off his best of 8:21.47 (run at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials).

In the men's 10K race, Bedan Karoki, a 20-year-old Kenyan, ran 27:13.67 to lead 14 runners under the standard of 27:45.00. They included three Americans: runner-up Robert Curtis (27:24.67), Tim Nelson (27:28.19), and Matt Tegenkamp (27:28.22).

Just six runners (five Kenyans and one Ethiopian) had previously achieved the 27:45 standard. Now Kenya has 10 qualifiers.

For the women, Kenyan Sally Kipyego of the Oregon Track Club ran a 47-second personal best of 30:38.35 to pace eight athletes under the 31:45.00 women's Olympic standard, previously achieved by only three runners Beijing bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan of the USA battled Kipyego (who runs from the Oregon Track Club) to the wire in 30:39.57. Two other Americans achieved the "A" mark: Molly Huddle (31:28.66) and Jen Rhines (31:43.00).

The "target number" of total athletics (track and field) participants for the 2012 Olympics is 2,000, according to the IAAF. Countries are limited to three entries in each event.


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