Mary Cain's race, among US high schoolers, may have been one of the most anticipated events of the week here! That she won was pretty impressive, because, on the world level, this just does not happen for American women.
That she did it in the style she did, with the finesse, control and final kick that she did is a product of her coach, Alberto Salazar, showing her how to win races.
Mary Cain, USA Outdoors, June 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net
Mary Cain is having the time of her life. She is just 18, has graduated from high school, and is moving to Portland to start college and train under the ever watchful eye of Alberto Salazar. But, for now, for this evening, Mary Cain was focused on one thing and one thing only: winning the 3000 meters.
It was not a sure thing!
This is sport, and to my knowledge, Valentina Mateiko and and Lilian Rengeruk both wanted to win the 3,000 meters as much as Mary Cain.
The race was an honest race, from the beginning. The first kilometer hit 3:03.84 as Mary Cain tucked herself inside in about fourth place, behind Mateiko and Rengeruk. Nozomi Takayama had lead early on, but she was swallowed by the fast moving field, which was anywhere from six to eight up front.
Mary Cain did the most important job for the first two kilometers, which was, stay on her feet and not do anything dumb.
It happens, a racer looses his or her cool. A unknown athlete tries to run away. There was lots of jostling during the second kilometer.
"Who said running is not a contact sport?" commented Mary Cain after her race.
Again, keeping one's feet on the ground, and not getting knocked out of the race moves you up a few places.
Mary Cain was covering every move and was moving up from sixth to fourth, to an agressive fourth.
The second kilometer was hit in 6:07.39. They were running steady, but this race would take off soon.
Mateiko and Regneruik were leading and Mary Cain was right behind them. She is taller than them and was running very relaxed, but, very focused.
The bell lap was hit in 7:55.55 as Regneruik, Cain and Mateiko took off, dropping Takayama. At 300 meters to go, Mary Cain seemed poised, ready to pounce. But when? Would Regneruik answer? And how?
The pace quickened from 250 meters to 200 meters as Mary Cain started to fly and Regneruik and Mateiko were there, still in a small lead.
"At 150 meters, I heard Alberto say something. It was time for me to move." noted Mary Cain. About one hundred and fifty meters, the whole demeanor of the race changed and Mary Cain became the kicker. She kicked by Valentina Mateiko and Lilian Rengeruk and as she did, they hit the final straightaway.
Mary Cain accelerated, as she took control of the race, and won the gold medal in the World Junior 3000 meters, a race that he coach, Alberto Salazar knew she could run and win months ago, if she ran her race.
Mary Cain ran her race tonight, and the last fifty meters were for her to enjoy as she ran 8:58.48, her personal best!
Mary Cain added to her followers tonight. By staying on her feet, and using a powerful kick at the opportune time, Mary Cain went from a nice junior phenom to a World Junior Champion.
A smiling Alberto Salazar, who was enjoying chatting with the media after the race, says it all.
A nice night at the races, but most importantly.
To paraphrase every so slightly...
It is Mary Cain's world, and we just live in it.
Women's 3000m, Jr., 1. Mary Cain, USA, 8:58.48, PB, 2. Lilian Regneruik, KEN, 9:00.53, 3. Valentina Mateiko, KEN, 9:00.79, PB, 4. Nozomi Takayama, JPN, 9:02.85, PB, 5. Etagegn Woldu, ETH, 9:06.42, 6. Emine Tuna, Turkey, 9:06.85, PB, #oregon14