Ex-Cal star Alysia Montano grabbed the final qualifying spot for the Olympic 800-meter final on Saturday, running 1:58.42 in her semifinal heat today.
Montano ran in the fastest of the three semifinals, so her fourth-place finish got her a spot in the final based on time.
“My coach talked to me about relaxing, and I think I relaxed too much,” Montano said. “When they made a move on the backstretch it took me a second to respond, and when I did it wasn’t the energy to respond it was the fact that I was boxed and had to jump out.
“That energy was a total error and I had to make it up in the last 200 meters. I’m really thankful I get an opportunity to redeem myself.”
Saturday will be plenty competitive.
Defending Olympic champ Pamela Jelimo of Kenya won a slow first heat in 1:59.42 and Ekaterina Poistogova of Russia securing the second automatic qualifier at 1:59.45.
South African Caster Semenya won the second heat in a season-best of 1:57.67, with Russia’s Elena Arzhakova (1:58.13), Kenya’s Janeth Jepkosgei (1:58.26) and Montano going 2-3-4.
Russia’s Mariya Savinova, the defending IAAF world champion, stormed from behind to win the third heat in 1:58.58, with Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba second in a national-record time of 1:58.67.
The U.S. has produced just two medal winners ever in the women’s 800 — Madeline Manning with a gold in 1968 and Kim Gallagher with a silver in 1984 and a bronze in ’88.
Cal grad Alysia (Johnson) Montano went out fast — as she usually does — and held on to win her first-round heat in the 800 meters at the London Olympics.
Montano will run in the semifinal round Thursday, where her heat includes eight runners who have broken 2 minutes and two — Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya and Caster Semenya of South Africa — who boast faster personal bests than Montano. On the other hand, Montano beat Semenya in Wednesday’s opening round.
Her race goes off at 11:30 a.m. PDT.
Cal grad and Berkeley resident Alysia (Johnson) Montano sent out an instagram photo via her Twitter account, during a tour of London.
Montano is hoping to become the first American woman to medal in the 800-meter run since 1988.
Cal’s Deborah Maier, the NCAA runnerup in indoor 3,000 and 5,000 meters, was named the 2012 National Scholar-Athlete of the Year for indoor track and field by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Maier, a political science major, sports a 3.82 grade-point average. She also placed 11th at the NCAA cross country championships as a junior last fall, the best showing by a Cal runner in 24 years.
He had completed his education at Cal six years earlier, was married, had a child and had flown cargo missions from India into China over the “Hump” of the Himalayas during World War II.
But Guinn Smith still had the skill and toughness necessary to win an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault in a rain storm at the 1948 London Games.
Here’s his story.
Alysia Montano, in her final tuneup before the London Olympics, ran third today in the 800 meters at the Herculis Diamond League meet in Monaco.
The former Cal star ran 1:59.05, well off her season and personal bests.
Russian Yelena Kofanova won the race in 1:58.41 and Burundi’s Franchine Niyonsaba was second with a national record of 1:58.68. South Africa’s Caster Semenya, projected as an Olympic silver medalist by Track and Field News, placed ninth in 2:01.67.
Former Cal star Alysia (Johnson) Montano earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic track team with a victory in the 800 meters at the trials in Eugene, Ore.
Montano took the lead from the start and won wire-to-wire in a time of 1:59.08. Gina Gall was second at 1:59.24 and Alice Schmidt third at 1:59.48.
Montano, a 2008 Cal grad, earned her fourth national title in the event — and her most important one. She’s going to London.
Montano made the team four years after suffering a foot injury at the trials.
“I’m super-duper elated,” Montano said. “Four years ago I was lying on this track after the first round. My whole mentality is to be brave and have heart. When I’m out there giving it my everything, I’m prepared to run a really, really fast time.”
Meanwhile, ex-Cal star Ed Wright gave the favorites a scare in the high jump before finishing fifth at 7 feet, 4 1/2 inches.
Cal senior Deborah Maier and 38-year-old Cal grad Magdalena Lewy Boulet, a 2008 Olympic marathoner, both advanced to the final of the women’s 5,000. Maier was fifth in her semifinal heat in 1n a school-record time of 15:43.43 and Lewy Boulet was seventh in the second heat at 15:51.73.
Cal alum Tracey Stewart wound up sixth in the triple jump final with a best mark of 43-2 1/2.
Cal junior Deborah Maier placed third in the 10,000 meter-run at the NCAA track and field championships at Des Moines, Iowa.
Maier, who earlier this year recorded the No. 3 all-time collegiate mark in the event, crossed in 32 minutes, 47.20 seconds. Her finishing spot matches the highest by a Cal woman in the 10,000 at the NCAA meet.
Meanwhile, freshman Harrison Steed finished eighth in the high jump with a Cal career high clearance of 7 feet, 2 1/2 inches. Theh highest-placing freshman in the event, Steed moved to No. 9 on Cal’s all-time high jump list.
David Torrence, who five years ago broke a 50-year-old Cal record in the mile, ran a personal-best time of 3 minutes, 52.01 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., climbing to the top of the 2012 U.S. leaders list.
Torrence finished just ninth in the super-quick field, topped by Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop in 3:49.40. How fast was the race? The first 10 finishers now rank 1 through 10 on the world season list.
Torrence’s time also moves him to No. 18 on the all-time U.S. list.
More importantly, he beat all of the top American runners he will face in three weeks at Eugene in the U.S. Olympic trials. Leonel Manzano finished 12th, Bernard Lagat 14th, Lopez Lomong 15th and Andrew Wheating 16th.
A top-3 finish at the trials will earn Torrence a spot at the London Olympics.
Cal grad Alysia Montano (Alysia Johnson before being married in 2011) ran the second-fastest time in the world this season to win the 800 meters at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore.
On the same Hayward Field track where she will compete at the Olympic trials in three weeks, Montano ran 1 minute, 57.37 seconds in her season debut in the rain to beat the best American runners by a decisive margin of almost 2 seconds.
Her time was a Pre Classic record and a track record at a facility that has known some fast times.
“I feel great. It was a really nice run. I am so excited of things to come. I feel great about where things are at right now,” Montano said. “I actually appreciated the fact that it did rain. It’s just like London weather. I have so much motivation right now.”
Her mark was just .03 seconds off her two-year-old personal best and ranks her No. 2 in the world for 2012, behind only Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo (1:56.94).