Coach Engle Takes On The World: Blog #4

Coach Engle's view at the World Games

Coach Engle's view at the World Games

Aug 17, 2013

It’s been a bittersweet last couple of days; I thought about writing an entry yesterday but opted to wait until the completion of the two events on the docket last night in the hopes of “big news”. Unfortunately, as often happens in this sport, there were ups and there were setbacks. 

Since my last post, there has been one huge moment of excitement in my event group – Nick Symmonds ended the US drought in the men’s 800 and captured the silver – our first medal in almost 20 years in the event.  For almost 600 meters, all of us thought that we may get two medals out of the event as Duane Solomon led the field for almost all of the early going. We also qualified all of our guys through to the semifinals of the 1,500 and all three men through to the finals of the 5,000.  American distance has really turned a corner. Last night we ran the semis of the 1,500 and the finals of the 5k.  In a brilliant race, Matt Centrowitz, son of American University coach Matt Centrowitz, qualified through to the finals of the metric mile.  Unfortunately, our others in the field, Leo Manzano and Lopez Lomong, did not advance.  In the 5,000, we finished just outside the medals as well – despite not capturing a medal, American Ryan Hill may have been the Cinderella story of the meet for me; after failing to qualify for the finals of the NCAA meet at 1500 in June, he not only made the US team at 5000, but finished 10th on the finals – what a great story!

We have two days and two distance events left (although there are obviously numerous other medals on the table for our squad) – today we have the men’s marathon through the streets of Moscow (with the turnaround at the foot of Red Square) and tomorrow, the final day of competition, we have Matt Centrowitz in the 1,500.  All Patriot League fans should join in support of a member of our family (even though Matt himself ran at Oregon).

While I wish the meet could go on forever, I am anxious to get home.  I am looking forward to a good meal (earlier than 10:30 PM) and my own bed, but moreover, I am anxious to get back to my team.  I have been very fortunate to spend time with the world’s best and observe how they prepare for victory and handle setback.  I have also observed and interacted with the world’s best coaches and have spent hours talking with them and watching them train their charges.  I have no doubt that the resurgence of American distance running (and we are REALLY on an upswing) is due to the combination of some fantastic athletes, who approach their sport with great professionalism, and the best coaches in the world.  In particular, I have been very impressed by the way our “team” has handled the bumps in the road – I have seen coaches and athletes breakdown the setbacks and learn from them in preparation for the next race and have seen that, even at this level, the co-curricular life lessons of sport are present.

The US team is still on top of the medal count and tied with our hosts for the lead in the gold medal race – send good thoughts our way for these last two days.  I will try and sneak in one more blog following the last night (although it may be from the airport on Monday). 

 

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