Geena Gall surprised many with her fantastic run, from sixth to second, over the last 200 meters of the women’s 800 meters, to make her first U.S. Olympic team. Gall, coached by Mark Rowland of the Oregon Track Club, held up in the pressure cooker that is the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Roy Stevenson, one of our columnists during the Trials, wrote this piece on Geena Gall!
By Roy Stevenson
June 26, 2012
After clear pre-race favorite Alysia Montano, the women’s 800m places appeared to be open to whoever could muster the best sprint. And last year’s fifth placer, OTC’s Geena Gall, had the fastest final 200m of everyone to crash into second place and make her first Olympic team, 0.14 behind gun-to-tape tearaway leader Alysia Montano, and 0.22 ahead of veteran Alice Schmidt. “It’s my first Olympic team; It’s been my dream”, an elated Gall said.
With Montano’s first lap of 55.87, Gall used sound tactical sense to hang back in the field while the others got further into oxygen debt. “I didn’t want to go out too fast and die like last year (where she placed 5th). I had a lot of faith in my finishing kick. I just gave it all I had”, said Gall after the race. “I felt like this whole season I’ve had a good final 100m. I just dug down deep, pushed my arms and focused on my kick”.
Retrieving 2nd place after being 6th with 250m to go was a little nerve wracking. “I was a little nervous. I had to go wide around Brenda and a couple of the other girls. I was nervous because I wanted to be a little closer to the leaders. I was really going wide around the last curve. I had to trust my kick”.
Geena Gall’s time of 1:59.24 yesterday was her best, showing that she’s still improving. Previously ranked 31st on the U.S. All-time best list with 1:59.62, and a 2011 ranking of 19th (same time) behind 5 others, Geena Gall is moving up the competitive ladder to greater things. Previously, Gall had won the NCAA Outdoor 800-meters twice (’08 and ’09) for University of Michigan.
Photo by Roy Stevenson
With last year’s World Champs experience under her belt, her 2009 U.S. Champs runner-up, and 2008 Olympic 7th place, Geena has gained valuable experience that elite 800meters runners need to mix it up with the big girls in the tall weeds. She looks poised to make a breakthrough.
Inspired by her older brother, with whom she used to race in play, Geena always looked up to him for making her run so fast. After moving to Oregon in 2006 to be with her new coach, Mark Rowland, she found it a big adjustment, but, “It’s really been a great 3 years with him. He really knows his stuff. He’s pretty cool”.
This is her breakthrough year. I’m sure this talented and hard-working, 5′ 6″; 25-year old won’t squander her chances.