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Americans win 2 middle-distance medals in 5-medal closing day of World Champs

8/18/2013
 
MOSCOW - Matthew Centrowitz and Brenda Martinez won historic medals in the men’s 1,500 and women’s 800 meters, Will Claye took bronze in the men’s triple jump and the U.S. men’s and women’s 4x100m relay teams won silver, in a dramatic day of competition Sunday at the World Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

When the drama had cleared, Team USA finished with 25 medals - six gold, 14 silver and five bronze - tying their second-best medal tally at the World Outdoor Championships. Team USA again dominated the scoring table, finishing with 282 points to Russia’s 182 and Kenya’s 139.

Centro, Martinez sprint to podium

In winning silver in the men’s 1,500m and bronze in the women’s 800m, Team USA won a medal in both the men’s and women’s 800 (Nick Symmonds, Martinez) as well as the men’s and women’s 1,500m (Centrowitz, Jennifer Simpson).

Centrowitz (Portland, Oregon) improved upon his bronze medal finish from the 2011 World Championships, sprinting to a silver medal in Moscow. A masterful technician, he bided his time, staying in the top half of the pack and running as high as second place as the pack moved along at a measured but honest pace of 1:59.24 at 800 meters. At the bell, the pack remained relatively tightly bunched, with Centrowitz patiently sitting on the rail. When the field broke down the final straightaway, Centrowitz was in third and seized an opening, running three wide to move up to second in 3:36.78. Asbel Kiprop of Kenya defended his title and took the gold in 3:36.28, with Johan Cronje of South Africa third in 3:36.83. Centrowitz joins Bernard Lagat as the only U.S. men to win two medals in the 1500m at the World Championships.

Martinez (Big Bear Lake, Calif.) won the first ever World Championship medal in the 800m for an American woman. She started conservatively, running eighth at 200m and 7th at 400m. Martinez managed the traffic well as five women sprinted to the line in a race for second place behind Eunice Sum of Kenya. Martinez found a spot on the rail to nab the bronze in a personal best of 1:57.91, behind Sum (1:57.38) and Mariya Savinova of Russia (1:57.80). Alysia Montaño (San Francisco, Calif.) bolted to an early lead, splitting 56.06 for 400m, but her lead disappeared with 150 meters to go, and she dove across the line in fourth 1:57.95. 19-year-old Ajeé Wilson (Neptune, N.J.) set an American Junior record of 1:58.21 in sixth.

Claye snares bronze

Will Claye (Gainesville, Fla.) repeated his bronze medal performance from the 2011 World Championships with his mark of 17.52m/57-5.75. Claye landed progressively better marks on each of his first three jumps, though he maintained his third place position throughout. Claye’s best mark came on his third attempt, but it was enough to hold him in the medal position through the next three rounds. Defending Olympic and World Champion Christian Taylor (Fayetteville, Ga.) opened with a jump of 16.99m/55-9 to place him fourth, and improved on his final attempt to 17.20m/56-5.25, but was unable to move onto the medal stand.

Team USA relays survive tense hand-offs to medal

Both the men’s and women’s relays featured breath-holding moments for American fans. In the men’s 4x100, Charles Silmon (Waco, Texas) led off for Team USA and handed off even with Jamaica.  A strong second leg by Mike Rodgers (Round Rock, Texas) put the Americans in the lead at the second exchange, which Jamaica slightly bobbled. Mookie Salaam (Edmond, Okla.) ran hard around the turn on the third leg. As Justin Gatlin (Clermont, Fla.) took off for the final exchange, he stumbled and struggled to recover and get the baton from Salaam. Once he did, he ran home to silver behind the Usain Bolt-led Jamaicans, who won in a world-leading time of 37.36. The U.S. was second in 37.66 with Canada third in 37.92 after Great Britain (37.80) was disqualified.

The women's 4x100m team orginally won bronze, but in a dramatic turnas the team returned to the hotel for the night, they learned that the second-place French team had been disqualified, upgrading the U.S. medals to silver. In the women’s 4x100, anchor Octavious Freeman (Lake Wales, Fla.) snatched a second-place finish from the jaws of defeat in a reshuffled Team USA relay order. With Allyson Felix (hamstring) and Carmelita Jeter (quadriceps) out with injuries suffered or exacerbated in Moscow, Team USA presented a brand new lineup. Jeneba Tarmoh  (Voorhees, N.J.) got out well in the first leg, handing off to Alexandria Anderson (Austin, Texas), who ran a blazing second leg and approached English Gardner (Los Angeles, Calif.) in the lead for the second exchange. Gardner took off well in front of Anderson and had to slow almost to a stop in the exchange zone to complete the pass as Anderson also slowed. Gardner ran a hard turn and handed off to Freeman, who ran from seventh to third in an amazing final leg. The final results have Jamaica first in a World Championships record 41.29, with Team USA second in 42.75 and Great Britain and Northern Ireland third in 42.87.

For more information on Team USA at the IAAF World Championships, visit www.USATF.org. Live results and startlists are available at www.IAAF.org.

Athlete Quotes

Matthew Centrowitz, men’s 1500m final
"I was very fatigued during that victory lap. I gave it my all out there.  I was just a little disappointed not getting gold because I’m such a competitive guy, but getting silver to Kiprop is gold any other day. That guy is on another level right now. I was happy to give it a shot at 100 and glad I was in a position I wanted to be in, but like I said, he’s on another level right now. 

“I’m a very patient guy as it is. I was sitting on the inside, and I can’t get out.  I’m starting to half panic, half focus that there’s still a race going on. Every time you hit a straight away, everyone just kind of drifts wide a little bit, kind of pushes whoever is going wide. So I figured that there would be a gap open up. Fortunately there was. It was a little tricky being in that position.”

Brenda Martinez, women’s 800m final
“I had to really calm my nerves. I knew it was probably the biggest race of my life. I just wanted to give everything I had.  Again I had to go by 58 and stay relaxed. On that last turn I really had to dig deep, I saw everyone around me.  I knew that last 100, I had to give it everything I had.”

Alysia Montaño, women’s 800m final
"I just wanted to do what I do in practices. I have had phenomenal practices. That last 50 meters, I wanted to show everyone what we’ve been doing in practice but I just didn’t have it.  I’m disappointed."

Ajeé Wilson, women’s 800m final
“I think it pretty much played out how my coach thought it would. The first quarter was really fast. We knew it was going to go out fast in the first 400. So the goal was just to stay relaxed and run within myself and go through a pace that was decent for me.”

Charles Silmon, 4x100m men, first leg
"I feel good. We messed ourselves up going for a gold medal, but you know I'm lucky to be here and to be on this team with a bunch of fast guys. I'm blessed with that, so I can't really complain."

Mike Rodgers, 4x100m men, second leg
"Charles just motivated me, how he got out of the blocks. We had a good exchange, and I thought we had it today, but we made a mistake that cost us the gold. But I'm happy with my first world outdoor medal in the 4x1, so I'm happy. There will be years to come and golds to come."

Mookie Salaam, 4x100m men, third leg
"It was very exciting, you know we had two young guys on the team, myself and Charles, and then two vets, Mike and Justin. Before we got our medals, I just thanked them for getting me my first world championship medal ever, it's just the start."

Justin Gatlin, 4x100m men, fourth leg
“First of all I want to congratulate my teammates. They are a young group of guys who have never been on a team together. Not just on a relay, but together, period. For them to come out and be able to push the pace going around the track, I think they put together good exchanges. I just stumbled in my three-point stance coming out of my exchange, and it set us back a little bit, so I’m just happy we were able to get a medal.”

Jeneba Tarmoh, 4x100m women, first leg
"My first leg was great. I wish I could've put my teammates in a better position. I'm more than happy we had a great exchange. We can't be mad with that."

Alexandria Anderson, 4x100m women, second leg
"People have been counting us out from the beginning because we're such a young team.  Me and Jeneba have been on World teams, she's been on the Olympic team. English and Tay are new, this is their first team. People just didn't believe in us. What we kept stressing was that we believe in ourselves and we're here. Everyone is on that track for a reason. These four are together for a reason. We got the bronze medal and I couldn't be happier."

(On the exchange between 2-3)  "It was a misunderstanding. Adrenaline is always going to be flowing and everyone is going to go out there and have something to prove. I'm proud of English.  She did her thing on the curve and brought us back.  Tay did really good job on the end curve. We try not to focus on the negative, just focus on the positive.  "

English Gardner, women's 4x100m, third leg
"We definitely had our mishaps, but we went out there and we performed the way we did. I can't explain how proud I am of all my girls, as I am about our anchor leg who didn't give up despite the finish. You can't teach that, that was heart. I feel like the whole team went out there and we ran with as much as they could. I couldn’t be more proud that we came out with a bronze."

Octavious Freeman, women's 4x100m, fourth leg
"I feel like everyone kind of doubted us. My thing is that we are going to make mistakes at a young age, but we came back, and we did good as a team. I'm just happy to say I'm part of Team USA, we represented USA very well. There is always room for improvement."

Christian Taylor, men’s triple jump final
"It just wasn't my day. The atmosphere was there, the relays were going on, the energy was really good. It just was one of those days. I didn't step up to the plate. I couldn't keep my calm. I got really excited. Qualifying was great. I really attacked it, I just couldn't make things happen. The season’s not yet over. It's good to see Teddy [Tamgho, gold medalist from France] do what he did. It's good to see the 18-meter mark again. But he also encouraged me and I think that's good for the event."

Will Claye, men’s triple jump final
"It was probably the best triple jump competition ever in the history of the triple jump. I feel blessed to take the bronze. It's been a really rough year for me, there have been a lot of ups and downs, so just for me to come here and get the bronze, I feel like I won. I'm thankful and I'm going to continue to work hard and next time I'll come back with the gold."

Mike Holloway, men's head coach
"I thought it was a great championships for both the men and the women. Everybody competed hard. In an athletics competition, you are going to have some things go not as you want them to, but I was really proud of our athletes continuing to fight their way through the championships. It can be hard the year after the Olympics to get yourself up again, and I think that led to some of the injuries that we had. But the young kids really stepped up. We didn't get the results we wanted to in the relays today, but we got the stick around, and we got medals. I'm very proud of everyone involved.”

Beth Alford-Sullivan, women's head coach
"We had a great couple of weeks together. Team USA has a ton of enthusiasm and a great future ahead of us. I was really, really proud of people stepping up when we had to change orders in the 4x1 and certainly in the 4x4. We really stepped up, and people were very, very strong teammates. I really felt like people supported each other and were with each other through the thick and thin. I just felt like we responded very well. I'm very happy to hear the medal count. We didn't put a medal count out there. We are young, and this is the type of thing that bodes well in two years for another world champs, and another year to the Games. It gives us some time to season these kids up and get them the maturity that they need physically and just racing maturity to be ready to go in Rio."

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