Men's 1,500m preview press conference excerpts
Director of Communications
USA Track & Field
USATF on Tuesday hosted a press conference with Bernard Lagat, Alan Webb and Lopez Lomong, three favorites to make the U.S. Olympic Team in the men's 1,500m. Below are excerpts from the press conference. For bios, visit the athlete bios section of www.usatf.org
Q: What would it mean to you to make the Olympic Team?
A: It would mean a lot. Coming up from Sudan and raised all by myself and things like that, I didn't know what this really, really means. In 2000, that's when I paid my five shillings and went to go watch the Olympics. I just fell in love with the colors of USA. My goal is just winning the gold medal. I would like to run for that country. This right here is a dream for a long time. I can work just so hard and just go out there and represent my new country and wear those nice uniforms and go after it.
I was in Northern Kenya in a refugee camp called Kakuma Camp (sp). I had to walk 5 miles to watch a black and white television and pay five shillings. I was so impressed. That became my dream and I've gone on since then. I was watching Michael Johnson and thought, "I'd like to run like that guy".
Q: Are you tired from running the 800?
A: Actually it helps. I finished my 800 yesterday and I felt very fresh. I just wanted to do some rounds. I finally made my PR yesterday. I didn't make the team, but I wanted to see what my speed was. It really helped me a lot. The first round was okay, comfortable. The second round was a little struggle. The third round was comfortable. The PR is great for me at that point.
A: How do you feel after winning the 5000 last night?
A: The race last night was good. It kind of went like the race in Osaka did. I was really pleased, I wanted to win, I just wanted to make sure I make Team USA which was very important for me.
Now I'm feeling so good. There's not much pressure now. I've made Team USA already.
I won last night and I don't feel a thing today. When I go to the quarterfinals for the 1500, I'm going to be just trying to make it to that semis. The semis are the same thing. The finals are just all adrenaline. I'm done with the 5,000 so I'm really excited about to run the 1500 and get out there.
On making the Olympic Team:
It means a lot to me (wearing the Team USA Uniform.). I've lived in this country a long time and received a lot of support from this country. I got my education here in the United States and to be the first one in my family to get the education was the biggest achievement. First came running, but I received my green card in 1997, it's been a long time. So then it came time, I've wanted to settle in America, I wanted to raise my family here. I wanted to get the opportunities that Americans get here. Now that I'm a runner, I feel enormous pride running for the United States. I feel like this is where I'm comfortable.
Q: If you make the team, will you run both the 5000 and 1500 in Beijing?
A: I think it's my first press conference to say that I will race both. This year I'm very healthy. Last year, everybody knew that I had problems with my stomach. I have no problems this year, I feel stronger this year so if I make the team in the 1500, I'm going to pursue the 1500 very hard. Because that's my goal. I think this is the time that I'm going to make the decision early. I'm going to run the 1500 and why not pursue the 5,000. I did it last year. I think I'm going with that plan.
Q: How have the last few weeks been for you?
A: I feel good, my training's been going well and I've had a lot of inspiration the last 12 hours on the track. I'm really excited about participating in this meet. It's been pretty awesome to watch.
My first emotion (when seeing the men's 800 from the previous night) was that I wished I could've been in the race. I guess the second thing that came to mind was anyone who saw that race, it'd make a track geek out of anybody if you were watching that. It was exciting. I mean the results speak for themselves. The same thing goes for the 5k. Basically when you have the whole field coming down the stretch with only three spots, it was interesting to watch the the last 100 meters and how the Olympic team changed nine times. It was neat to have your eyes on so many people trying to figure out what was going to happen. It was exciting.
The reason why I pulled out of the 800 [at the Olympic Trials] is to give myself a little more time to prepare, to get ready. It gave me another week to get more training in. The 1500 was my main goal, it was my number one priority. I felt that having a little more preparation time would help me. It gives me confidence to know that I have the training under my belt. It's just a matter of getting out there and executing.