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Ron Judd's Olympics Insider

Ron Judd, an Olympics junkie and Seattle Times columnist who has covered Olympic sports since 1997, will use this space to serve up news and opinion on the Summer and Winter Games -- also inviting you to chime in on Planet Earth's biggest get-together.

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August 17, 2008 8:56 AM

Disastrous U.S. track team start: Lagat fails to qualify

Posted by Ron Judd

Lagat.JPGBernard Lagat of the United States reacts after failing to advance in the men's 1500-meter semifinal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing Sunday. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)


So much for safe bets.

Former WSU star and recent American immigrant Bernard Lagat has failed to qualify for the final of the 1,500 meters. He finished sixth in his semifinal heat.

Lagat, interviewed by Elliott Almond of the San Jose Mercury-News, said he was feeling well and the heat of Beijing was not a problem. He was at a loss to explain his performance.

"I don't know what happened," he said. "I gave it my all at the end and it is unusual for me to run fast and not make it to the final."

Lagat realized he was one spot out of qualifying as he came down the home stretch, he said.

"I thought, man, I’ve got to dig in," he said. "I thought maybe I'd made it. But you know what, life goes on. To my mom, my friends in America: I didn't let them down. I did my best. If I let them down that means I didn't give my best. I tried 100 percent."

Lagat, a bronze and silver medalist in the event and reigning world champion, missed the final by two hundredths of a second.

Teammate Lopez Lomong, the U.S. flagbearer in the opening ceremony, also failed to qualify.

It's been a disastrous start, capital D, for the U.S. track team. Tyson Gay failed to qualify for the final of the 100 meters, won by Usain Bolt. And Jamaicans swept the top three spots of the women's 100 meters, with Lauryn Williams and Muna Lee finishing fourth and fifth. They later protested the race, saying they'd been holding back because of what they perceived to be a false start. The protest was denied.

Things have gone no better in field events, where America's vaunted shot put contingent, expected to sweep, took only a silver the medal round.

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www.olympic.org: The official International Olympic Committtee site, with news releases, a searchable Olympic medals database and other archival information.
www.nbcolympics.com: Olympic news site from one of the Games' primary sponsors.
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www.aroundtherings.com: Ed and Sheila Hula's Olympic News Service (subscription).
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www.beijing2008.com: Beijing Organizing Committee Web site.
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www.chicago2016.org: Candidate city Chicago's summer 2016 bid committee site.
Olympic swimmer Tara Kirk's highly entertaining WCSN blog
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