USA Athlete Quotes - Olympics, Day 9

USA Athlete Quotes - Olympics, Day 9

Provided by USATF

Men’s 1500 meters

Matthew Centrowitz, gold medalist

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. The last hour or so has been unbelievable. I’ve had an email from Jim Ryun coming into the race just wishing me good luck. Seb Coe gave me the medal. [Hicham] El Guerrouj is back there wishing me luck before the race. Everything leading up to it, during and after has just been surreal.”

“I saw my dad on the victory lap. I yelled at him first, ‘Are you kidding me?!” and he yelled back at me, ‘are you **** kidding me?!” I yelled back, ‘are you kidding me?’ We were just kind of going back and forth. I don’t think any of us believed it.”

“I didn’t know how this race was going to be. After about the first 800 and no one went around me, I said okay we’re getting now into latter stages where I can’t let anyone get around me at this point. Early on, if someone came around me, I’d be content with that. Souleiman kind of pulled up, kind of went around me but kind of left the inside. I’ve made that maneuver before at previous world championships and I saw that he left it open. I thought we’re going into the last lap right now, it’s now or never, I took my opening and went from there.”

On winning the gold medal: “I don’t think there’s any achievement in this sport that tops that. No world record, no medal -- the Olympics is the pinnacle of track and field. This is the best it gets. I’ve been joking since [I won], I’ve gotten this medal that I don’t have to do anything for the rest of my career. It’s not a complete failure. It has not sunk in and it’s a dream come true.”

On his confidence going into the race: “I’m a confident guy, but I don’t know that I was this confident. I’ve a lot of respect for everyone in that field, it’s an Olympic final. I treated every round as if it was the final. Never took anything for granted. Kiprop is one of the greatest milers in the history of the 1500. These guys were ready. I thought on the best day I could get a silver medal. In the back of my head I thought I could get a gold. Coming away with a gold, again, is unbelievable.”

Ben Blankenship

“That did not go as planned. Poor execution, just ran poorly I guess. I’m learning from the experience already and just tactically made some poor decisions. I should have been a little more dominant from the front. I was a little hesitant. With 300 to go, I just have to be calm, just got to be patient. I was a little too patient this time and it cost me.”

“It was probably the easiest race I’ve run in a few weeks. Trials were kind of stressful in terms of just one prelim to get to the next prelim. The last two were probably the bigger of the prelims. Today was pretty fun, I just didn’t run as best I could, just maybe a lack of experience with this one.”

Women’s 800 meters

Kate Grace

“I knew going in with lane 1, I knew what I didn’t want to do which was get in the back, which I kind of did. I jostled a little bit, even the first 200 which I don’t normally do, kind of pulling back my momentum in order to not be in the very, very last, so that was probably a little bit of energy. I think I still went through at 58-flat or something which is pretty fast for me. My last three races have been four of my five fastest 800s ever. I’m running well, I thought that a PR was possible today. It didn’t come through. I still think I could run a PR, but it wasn’t there today.”

On sticking with 800: “I don’t know what I’m going to do right after this. I was thinking of possibly going to possibly run a European race. I know I’m going to run 5th Ave Mile and end my season there, which I am really excited about. My sister lives in New York. It was a debate this year to be here in the 800m. I’m really proud to represent our country and represent the middle distance runners in the 800m. There are so many people who are incredible [in the event]. I felt like I wanted to run for them, also. We have such a high level of quality it really has inspired me to work hard. I’m looking forward to the 1500m in the coming years.”

On support throughout the Olympics: “USATF has been amazing. I really feel like part of the group now.”

Men’s 5,000 meters

Paul Chelimo, silver medalist

On waiting to be reinstated: "That was the longest wait of my life. I've been working hard for this. It's been sweat, blood and tears. In practice - what went down behind the scenes in practice - this was just icing on the cake. I train hard. Coming in I had a personal best and I was running 16th place in my heat, you know. So overall maybe I was like 25th place. Coming in and running a personal best in the semis and then the finals running another huge, huge personal best. That was really great for me and I'm happy about it. I just can't express myself right now. I'm happy because I got reinstated back. It's all about hard work. They took my 13:03 personal best and gave me back my 13:31. I just really wanted the 13:03 because it's better for me and it shows I'm in the top level right now and that's what I've always wished for."

On racing against gold medalist Mo Farah: "Mo Farah tried to stay in the lane the whole time. I was trying to make a move and get on the outside because coming in I was trying to give Moh a challenge but, when I tried to go on the outside, I got blocked. Then I went back in because 5k is a tactical race. You don't want to come into it and expect to win so easy. That's why Moh is able to go into the lane, stay in the lane and stay there the whole time. If someone wants to move and get to lane 1 he doesn't let them do it so, that's the problem. I was the guy inside in lane 1. I was the guy inside behind Moh Farah. I couldn't stay there the whole time. I wanted to medal too so I had to look for position to get out and go into contention.

Bernard Lagat

“My last lap I was just following the guys, I wanted to run as hard as possible because I told my coach, my agent and my wife that I want to give my best. I do not want to just walk out of that field and say I wish I had done something different. For me, I gave all I had, there’s nothing else. That’s why I finished and I was still smiling and saying to everybody, ‘hey, good job’ and that’s when I went to the warm up area there to call down and to see my kids and hold my kids.”

Hassan Mead

"I think about ninety-five percent of the race was a great race. It was fast, I think it was good for the spectators and for many of us, I don't mind a fast pace. I just kind of lost some momentum going into the final lap - there was a lot of people moving in and out and I kind of backed off because someone was moving from inside to outside... I didn't finish where I liked but overall I think it was a good race. I'm bummed out I didn't get to finish in the top 10. That was the main thing, finishing in the top 10 and go on with the season but, move on to the next one."

Women’s 4x400 Relay, gold medalists

Courtney Okolo

“I’m very excited. It’s a dream come true. The first Olympics I remember watching was in 2008. Now I’m here doing it. It’s crazy to think how my dreams have become my reality.”

On participating in the Olympics: “It’s not as scary as I thought it was going to be. I think I did good. I never really know until I watch it. Right now I feel pretty good. I think being the youngest and least experienced, I just wanted to step up to the plate and play my part. Right now I think I did good, I just have to wait.”

Natasha Hastings

“It was a really, really good, clean race. Before going out there, I wanted to have fun, I wanted to go out there and have fun, represent America and represent in a positive way.”

On winning gold after missing 2012 Olympics: “Coming back eight years later, missing ‘12, being here and being part of this with these ladies is very special. I just wanted to go out and get the job done, run a clean race and not leave any work left for the last two ladies to get it done.”

On her interests outside of track & field: “It’s been interesting. The funny thing is that I’m “blowing up” [in popularity of social media] for being myself. I’ve gotten some flak over the years about “oh, she’s not serious, she’s doing the makeup thing, the hair thing.” and ultimately I dress up and I dress up for my job. I treat this the same way anyone would treat their job. I show up as a professional If I could be recognized for just being myself and doing a great job out there, I think I’m doing the right thing. I was able to perform and come home with a medal.”

On redemption after finishing fourth in 400m: “It was gut-wrenching to finish fourth in the open, but I do know that I gave it my all. For me, I put it out there as well that as much as it hurt, it was humbling to see that so many people around the world saw how dedicated I’ve been over the years, just off the little bit that I share online.”

On winning Olympic gold: “It was a dream 20 years in the making. If I can inspire young girls who have the same dream as me, then I’ve done my job.”

Phyllis Francis

“It was amazing. Words can’t describe how excited I am right now. It is super surreal. We just went out there and executed a race, we just had fun and just go for the gold.”

On what she’s going to do with the medal:“I always wanted to do the bite. I haven’t done that yet, so probably when I leave I’ll do that and take a bunch of photos.

Allyson Felix

“It’s amazing to come together with these women tonight and be able to finish it off. It was a good night.”

On becoming the most decorated female track & field Olympian in history: “It’s really special. I can look back at the things I’ve accomplished and be really grateful for what track and field has brought to my life. I’m very passionate about it and it’s brought me a lot of joy.”

On where she keeps her medals: “They all stay with my parents. They like when people come over, they like to show them off.”

On what’s next: “Of course, London [World Championships in 2017]. That’s next on the agenda. But as far as the next four years, I’m just taking it year by year.”

On how tough this Olympics has been: “The toughest, without a doubt. This year, I could never have imagined. I think you make plans and you want everything to go according to schedule, and I think that nothing went according to schedule. That’s okay because it’s about growth and character and I think I learned a lot of lessons throughout this Olympics.”

On America being dominant again: “It’s an amazing team, a team of youth. Across the board, people stepped up. People are being inspired by each other while these Games were going on. Michelle Carter set the tone and it seemed like medals left and right.”

“I think that you start to see a shift. People are at home watching. They were watching 2012, they were watching 2008 and when they get the opportunity, they are seizing the moment and I think that’s what we’re seeing take place.”

Men’s 4x400 Relay, gold medalists

Arman Hall

“They told me to bring it out front, run my race model and make sure I have enough speed to come through the last 120 and bring it home strong. I did that. I’m excited, I’m blessed, I’m happy. I would never have imagined myself as a 22-year-old getting a gold medal in the Olympics, so it’s an honor and a blessing.”

Tony McQuay

“I’m definitely happy. This is an overwhelming experience for me. Four years ago, I was a silver medalist at this event, so to bring this gold medal home means everything. We classify ourselves as having the best quarter miler group in the world, so of course we are always going to try to live up to those standards of those quarter-horses that set the way for the young guys. We try to keep that legacy going.”

Gil Roberts

On getting close to the rail: “It was pretty scary. I just tried to maintain the lead, extend the lead some. I started to kick and get into my kick and then in the process of kicking, I got close to the rail. I was just like, “don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall, get to the line.”

“I was pleased with my race. I maintained what Tony gave me, extended a little bit and got it to LaShawn. Coach Dennis Mitchell] said do your job, everybody do your job, and give all you’ve got’ and that’s what I did and we should be fine. And we were.”

LaShawn Merritt

“This was about Team USA and a great group of guys out there that I ran with. They made my job easy. We wanted this gold. We didn’t get it in the last Olympics. I just told everybody, go out and do your job. I”ve been running a lot (in Rio) but I’m going to give that anchor leg all I’ve got. Everybody did their job, and we’re bringing the gold back to the U.S. For me, it means what Olympics are all about. Olympics are about representing your country. When I can do that with a group of guys on the track to end the Olympic Games, it makes it a lot more special to get this gold medal.

On running his seventh race of the Games: “Even in college I didn’t run this much. But it was great. I went for it every time I stepped on the track.”

Women’s High Jump Final

Chaunte Lowe

“It was difficult. Obviously I wanted to do better. I fought with everything I had tonight. I think that the team that’s supporting me is really proud of me. It’s still an amazing year, sometimes you have it sometimes you don’t. I’m glad and honored to be at my fourth Olympic Games, to come out and experience it the way that I did.”

Vashti Cunningham

“It was a good experience…. It was just a bad day.”

On what Chaunte Lowe said to her at end..of competition: “She was just telling me that I had an amazing season and that I was an amazing jumper.”

On balancing her youth and pressures of competing: “I don’t really put my age into it. It’s just what I chose to do as my profession. I go at it no matter how old I am.”

Inika McPherson

“It’s okay. It’s been an incredible road. I’m here, it’s not done. After my mark came up, we had to figure out where we were and afterward, I just had to fight through it and get ready for the next competition.

On the long pause before the last jump: “I was just trying to figure out placement, popoff at the bar, how close it was. Maybe over thinking. At the same time, it felt great.