Triple gold for Centrowitz and relays, stunning silver for Chelimo
Provided by USATF
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -- A continuation of Team USA’s stunning distance success teamed with traditional relay dominance Saturday night at Olympic Stadium as Matthew Centrowitz and the 4x400m relays won from the front. Paul Chelimo of the U.S. Army, meanwhile, won a silver medal in the 5000m, briefly lost it, then had it restored. By the end of the night, Team USA had pushed its medal total to 31, and Allyson Felix earned her ninth, tying her as the most-decorated female track athlete in Olympic history.
Heading into Sunday’s men’s marathon final, Team USA has 13 gold medals, 10 silver medals and eight bronze medals in Rio. It marks the team’s highest gold-medal total since 1956 (15). Other than the boycotted 1984 Olympic Games (40 medals), the 31 medals so far is the highest total by Team USA since 1956.
Centrowitz first American in more than a century to win 1500m
108 years after the last U.S. gold medal in the men’s 1500m, Matthew Centrowitz (Arnold, Maryland) led almost start to finish to pull off the win in 3:50.00. Centrowitz went to the front of the field midway through the first lap when the pace slowed to a crawl. He took the bunched-up pack through 400m in 66.83 and 800m in 2:16.59. At the bell, many of the top contenders started making moves to position themselves for a furious finish, with Centrowitz reasserting himself down the backstretch. No one could overcome Centrowitz’s closing pace, as he covered the final 300m in 38 seconds and the final lap in 50 seconds to hold off 2012 gold medalist Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria (3:50.11) and Nick Willis of New Zealand (3:50.24).
The gold completed an international championship sweep for the Portland-based Centrowitz, added to his World Indoor title earned in March, in his hometown. Ben Blankenship (Stillwater, Minnesota) was eighth in Saturday’s final in 3:51.09.
U.S. keeps women’s 4x400m relay streak alive
Winners of five straight Olympic women’s 4x400m relay golds coming in to Rio, Team USA made it six with an almost flawless race, winning in 3:19.06, more than a second ahead of Jamaica (3:20.34).
NCAA champion and collegiate record holder Courtney Okolo (Carrollton, Texas) was entrusted with the leadoff leg and she didn’t disappoint, running 50.3 and handing off with a three-meter lead to 2008 relay gold medalist Natasha Hastings (Brooklyn, New York). Hastings, who was fourth in the open 400, blistered the first turn and cut to the inside with a very comfortable lead, romping to a 49.2 split. Fresh off a fifth-place finish in the open 400, Phyllis Francis (Queens, New York) took the second exchange and held off Jamaica’s 400m bronze medalist Shericka Jackson with a 49.82 carry to give Allyson Felix (Los Angeles) a two-meter lead at the final pass. Felix held off until the final 100m to turn on the speed and finish with a 49.66 leg and add to her record medal haul.
Felix leaves Rio with a record six career golds and nine career medals, equaling Merlene Ottey for the most in Olympic track and field history.
Men reclaim 4x400m title
Sizzling legs by Tony McQuay (Clermont, Florida) and LaShawn Merritt (Portsmouth, Virginia) helped Team USA reclaim the Olympic men’s 4x400m relay gold in 2:57.30, the 17th win in Olympic history for the U.S. After Arman Hall (Pembroke Pines, Florida) put the Americans in the lead with a 45.3 lead leg, McQuay burned up the track with a 43.2 second carry, one of the fastest relay legs in history. Despite jostling with Botswana at the exchange, McQuay got the stick safely to Gil Roberts (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma), who opened a small gap down the backstretch. Stumbling a bit coming off the final bend, Roberts righted the ship and motored in with a 44.79 split to give 400m bronze medalist Merritt enough of a lead that he would not be caught. Running his seventh long sprint of the week, Merritt rattled off a 43.97 anchor to add another gold. Jamaica was third in 2:58.16, with the Bahamas third in 2:58.49.
Chelimo stuns for silver in 5000m
Paul Chelimo (Beaverton, Oregon) had a Cinderella race to win the first U.S. medal in the men’s 5,000m since 1964, chopping almost 16 seconds off his lifetime best. Chelimo tucked in behind the leaders right away, staying in third through the first kilometer. 41-year-old Bernard Lagat (Tucson, Arizona) and Hassan Mead (Eugene, Oregon) settled in the middle of the pack in what started as a tactical race. The pack picked up the pace in the final mile, as Mead began to work his way toward the front of the field. With just over 800m to go, Mead and Lagat caught up to Chelimo and within striking distance of Britain’s reigning Olympic champion Mo Farah and Ethiopians Hagos Gebrhiwet and Dejen Gebremeskel. The foursome of Farah, Gebrhiwet, Gebremeskel and Chelimo dropped the hammer with 300m remaining. Chelimo surged on the back straight, closing in on Farah in the final 50m. Farah cruised in for gold in 13:03.30, while Chelimo held off a charging Gebrhiwet to finish in 13:03.90. Gebrhiwet was third in 13:04.35.
The competitors finishing 2nd-4th were disqualified shortly after the conclusion of the race for what was initially ruled as stepping inside the rail, moving Lagat from 6th to the bronze medal position. After 20 minutes of deliberation, Chilmo and fourth-place Mohammed Ahmen of Canada were reinstated and Chelimo reclaimed his silver. Farah won in 13:03.30, Lagat moved to 5th with his time of 13:06.78, and Mead was 11th in 13:09.81. All three Americans ran faster than any other U.S. athlete in Olympic history.
Lowe just out of the medals, takes 4th in women’s high jump
The women’s high jump favored competition over soaring heights, with the medal positions coming down to a four-woman battle. Ruth Beitia of Spain, Mirela Demireva of Bulgaria, Blanka Vlasic of Croatia and Chaunté Lowe (Riverside, California) were the only women to clear 1.97m/6-5.5 in the 17-woman field. Beitia and Demireva of Bulgaria had cleared on their first attempts, Vlasic on her second and Lowe on her third, leaving the American record holder sitting in fourth as the bar moved to 2.00m/6-6.75. With the other three competitors all jumping before her, Lowe had the final attempt of the competition, which could vault her from fourth to first - with no other options in between. It was not to be but was the best Olympic finish of Lowe’s storied, four-Games career.
Inika McPherson (Port Arthur, Texas) finished 10th with a best of 1.93m/6-4, and Vashti Cunningham (Las Vegas, Nevada) tied for 13th at 1.88m/6-2.
Grace 8th in women’s 800m
Kate Grace (Sacramento, California) came off the first turn in the back of the eight-woman pack, just off the shoulder of Poland’s Joanna Jozwik. Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi pulled the field through a quick first circuit in 57.59 and held onto a slim lead over South Africa’s Caster Semenya through 600m in 1:26.72. Grace fought to stay in contact, but couldn’t make a dent in the medal contenders and finished eighth in 1:59.57. Semenya won in a national record 1:55.28.
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 21 (all times ET)
8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
TEAM USA MEDAL TABLE
Michelle Carter, Women’s SP, 20.63m/67-8.25 AR (8/12)
Jeffrey Henderson, Men’s LJ, 8.38m/27-6 (8/13)
Christian Taylor, Men’s TJ, 17.86m/58-7.25 (8/16)
Tianna Bartoletta, Women’s LJ, 7.17m/23-6.25 (8/17)
Brianna Rollins, Women’s 100m hurdles, 12.48 (8/17)
Kerron Clement, Men’s 400m hurdles, 47.73 (8/18)
Ryan Crouser, Men’s SP, 22.52m/73-10.75 OR (8/18)
Ashton Eaton, Men’s Decathlon, 8,893 pts. =OR (8/18)
Dalilah Muhammad, Women’s 400m hurdles, 53.13 (8/18)
Women’s 4x100m relay (Bartoletta, Felix, Gardner, Bowie), 41.01 (8/19)
Matthew Centrowitz, Men’s 1500m, 3:50.00 (8/20)
Women’s 4x400m relay (Okolo, Hastings, Francis, Felix), 3:19.06 (8/20)
Men’s 4x400m relay (Hall, McQuay, Roberts, Merritt), 2:57.30 (8/20)
Tori Bowie, Women’s 100m, 10.83 (8/13)
Justin Gatlin, Men’s 100m, 9.89 (8/14)
Allyson Felix, Women’s 400m, 49.51 (8/15)
Will Claye, Men’s TJ, 17.76m/58-3.25 (8/16)
Evan Jager, Men’s 3000m Steeple, 8:04.28 (8/17)
Brittney Reese, Women’s LJ, 7.15m/23-5.5 (8/17)
Nia Ali, Women’s 100m hurdles, 12.59 (8/17)
Joe Kovacs, Men’s SP, 21.78m/71-5.5 (8/18)
Sandi Morris, Women’s PV, 4.85m/15-11 (8/19)
Paul Chelimo, Men’s 5,000m, 13:03.80 (8/20)
LaShawn Merritt, Men’s 400m, 43.85 (8/14)
Emma Coburn, Women’s 3000m Steeple, 9:07.63 AR (8/15)
Clayton Murphy, Men’s 800m, 1:42.93 (8/15)
Sam Kendricks, Men’s PV, 5.85m/19-2.5 (8/15)
Jenny Simpson, Women’s 1500m, 4:10.53 (8/16)
Tori Bowie, Women’s 200m, 22.15 (8/17)
Kristi Castlin, Women’s 100m hurdles, 12.61 (8/17)
Ashley Spencer, Women’s 400m hurdles, 53.72 (8/18)