Sunday, 21 August 2016

Matt Centrowitz Wins First Gold in 1,500 Meters for U.S. Since 1908

Matt Centrowitz of the United States won gold in the men’s 1500 meters. With all its success in track and field over the years, the United States always seemed incapable of winning one marquee event: the men’s 1,500 meters — the so-called Metric Mile.

The drought ended Saturday night after more than 100 years when Matt Centrowitz won gold at the Rio Games with a front-running effort. His winning time was 3 minutes 50 seconds.

The last American to win the 1,500 meters at the Olympics was Mel Sheppard in 1908.

“There’s nothing like it,” Centrowitz said. “It doesn’t compare to anything else I’ve won in my life.”
Matt Centrowitz Wins First Gold in 1,500 Meters for U.S. Since 1908
Matt Centrowitz Wins First Gold in 1,500 Meters for U.S. Since 1908
Centrowitz and Mo Farah of Britain, who won his second gold medal of the Rio Games on Saturday, in the 5,000 meters, are coached by Alberto Salazar, who runs the prominent Nike Oregon Project. Salazar is under investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. He and his athletes have emphatically denied any ties to performance-enhancing drugs.

The son of a former Olympian in the 1,500 — also named Matt — Centrowitz made his Summer Games debut four years ago in London, finishing fourth. In setting the United States Olympic trials record in July, in 3:34.09, he became a formidable gold-medal contender for Rio.

Centrowitz stayed out of trouble in a physical race Saturday night, unimpeded by the jostling in the pack behind him. When others tried to run him down in the final meters, he never broke stride.

The race was slow for the first 800 meters, causing the runners to bunch up. The favorite, Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, who likes to charge from behind, made several moves forward but continually encountered traffic or was shuffled back. He finished sixth.

Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria won silver, and Nick Willis of New Zealand won bronze.

Centrowitz, a 26-year-old from Maryland, has two medals in the 1,500 at the world championships and won this year’s world indoor championships. But Saturday’s race was his first major title.

“Doing my victory lap, I literally kept screaming to everyone I know ‘Are you kidding me?’” he said.

His father was a middle-distance runner and two-time Olympian who attended Power Memorial Academy in Manhattan. Matt Jr. trains in Eugene, Ore.
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