Team USA women’s marathoners turn in best team finish in history as Flanagan sets record
Provided by USATF
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -- Four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan (Marblehead, Massachusetts) proved her preparation for the streets of Rio was near-perfection, as she set a new American record in the women's-only marathon while finishing sixth Sunday at the Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí. Teammates Desi Linden (Chula Vista, California) and Amy Cragg (Leavenworth, Kansas) also finished in the top 10 for the best team finish in U.S. Olympic team history.
The Americans tucked into the back of the lead pack, going through 5 km in 17:27. Just after 8 km, Linden made her move to the front and Flanagan and Linden tucked in to the middle of the lead group. By the next split, the pack dwindled to just 13 women.
The lead pack whittled down to eight just after the 10 km mark coming through with a split of 34:22, with Flanagan, Cragg and Linden bringing up the rear. Linden kept her pace steady, not allowing herself to be deterred when the pack’s splits continued to jump. The U.S. trio managed the tangents of the course spectacularly, shaving off precious seconds their competitors elected not to take. The chase pack of eight caught up with the leaders briefly, but just before 18 km, the pack dwindled again as medal favorite Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia dropped out of the race due to cramping.
They reached 20km in 1:09:07 and the half marathon point in 1:12:56, as Flanagan and Cragg continued to hold steady at the back of the pack. Running her own race, Linden kept her splits even regardless of the lead pack’s tactics, dropping behind 30 seconds of the leaders at the 25 km mark.
The lead pack of nine picked up the pace at 30 km and Flanagan kept up with the group, just three steps off their pace to come through in 1:43:21. Cragg drifted back and was caught by Linden at the 30 km marker in 1:43:34. Flanagan kept the leaders in her sights and passed through 35 km in 2:00:31, but Kirwa dropped the hammer at 36km in what proved to be the game-changing move of the race. Dibaba and Sumgong went with Kirwa and opened a gap that would solidify the three medalists.
In the final 6 km, Flanagan attempted to stay with the chase pack of Tsegaye and Mazuronak, but with all the twists and turns of the roads of Rio, it proved to be a task too tall. Flanagan came through the Museum of Tomorrow looking strong, but with the lead and chase packs out of her sights, Flanagan paced herself smartly to a time of 2:25:26, a new American record for a women’s-only marathon.
Teammates Linden (7th - 2:26:08) and Cragg (9th - 2:28:25) also finished inside the top 10 as the finishing order from the U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Marathon was reversed. The team finish is the highest in U.S. Olympic Team history and all three finishes mark the highest non-medal finishes for U.S. athletes in Olympic marathon history.
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 14 (all times ET)
7:00 p.m. – Midnight
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)
Tori Bowie, Women’s 100m, 10.83 (8/13)