Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dunn nears another Olympic spot in racewalking

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Philip Dunn raised his right fist as he finally crossed the finish line, then wrapped himself in the American flag.

He was exhausted. He was also exhilarated, since a third Olympic berth may soon be his.

“This wasn’t a walk in the park,” Dunn said.

Interesting choice of words.

Dunn won the U.S. men’s 50-kilometer Olympic racewalking trials Saturday at Crandon Park just south of downtown Miami, pulling away from Matt Boyles late in the grueling race that had only 15 qualified entrants. A third of them didn’t finish, and most of those who completed the 25-lap course did so in obvious agony.
Dunn got the win, but his Olympic task isn’t done yet.

His time was 4 hours, 12 minutes, 55 seconds — 5:55 slower than the Olympic ’B’ qualifying standard. If he completes a 50K event in the standard time by July 23, he’ll be eligible for the Beijing Games in August.

“Before every race, you make a set of goals,” said Dunn, who hails from San Diego. “The main goal was to win for me, to come out on top. The secondary goal was to hit the time standard and seal the deal, make Beijing today. When that didn’t happen, yeah, I was disappointed a little bit. But I regrouped.”
Matt Boyles forced him to regroup.

Boyles is 25 and was competing in just his second 50K racewalk. He was stride-for-stride with Dunn from the opening gun, and by the time they completed two laps around the two-kilometer course, most of the field was already more than a minute behind.

The pursuers never caught up, either. At the 30K mark, Boyles forced the issue and took a slim lead — which he later regretted, because with 10 kilometers left, Dunn passed him with relative ease and kept pulling away.

2004 Olympian Kevin Eastler dropped out after one lap because he’s recovering from hernia surgery, and three-time Olympian Curt Clausen (who finished more than an hour
behind the leaders) needed multiple ice packs rubbed on his legs in the medical tent just after crossing the line.

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