Beijing Stories: Day 3 was a huge day for Ohio!!! Barber, Infeld and Huling dazzle! by Elliott Denman


Barber_ShawnQ-World15.JPgShawn Barber, Gold Medal, Pole Vault, photo by

Elliott Denman wanted to remind us how great a day that Day three was of Ohioans, with Shawn Barber, from University of Akron, Emily Infeld and Dan Huling!

Infeld_EmilyFL1-World15.JPgEmily Infeld, photo by

A fun piece on the track traditions of the fine state of Ohio!

Huling_DanQ-World15.JPgDan Huling, photo by

BEIJING - "Why, oh why, oh why, oh -
"Why did I ever leave Ohio?
"Why did I wander to find what lies yonder
"When life was so cozy at home?"
Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote those lyrics for
"Wonderful Town" back in 1953.
Rosalind Russell belted them out for the Broadway premiere,
to the immortal music of Leonard Bernstein.
Well, 62 years later, they staged a revival, in of all places,
the Chinese Olympic city's famed Bird's Nest Stadium.
This time, the lyrics were belted out by Shawn Barber, Emily Infeld and
Dan Huling.
In one of the greatest days ever enjoyed by the athletes of a single
state in the 32 years and the 15 editions of the World Track and Field
Championships, Barber, Infeld and Huling brought joy to all those
of the Buckeye State persuasion Monday night at the Bird's Nest.
Top of the charts goes to Barber, the high-flying University of
Akron Zip (who has USA-Canada dual citizenship but elects to
compete for Canada) registered an amazing, against-all-the-odds
pole vault win with a clarance of 5.90 meters / 19 feet, 4 ¼ inches.
Checking in to Beijing as the virually leadpipe cinch to win the
men's PV was Renaud Lavillenie of France, the highest-flyer of all time
with his 6.16 / 20-2 ½ indoor-season ascent at Donetsk, Ukraine in the winter of 2014.
But Lavillenie - whose season has been marked by injuries - just wasn't in
that kind of form and settled for third place and the bronze (shared with a pair of Polish rivals) at 5.80 / 19-0 ¼.
When the French pheenom fizzled out, Barber soared up-up-up and
won the event with his first-attempt success at 5.90, relegating 2013
World champion Raphael Holdzeppe of Germany to the silver.
Holdzeppe needed three attempts to clear 5.90 and that was it.
He and Barber missed all their attempts at 6 meters / 19-8 ¼ and the event was over.
Barber, claiming Canada's first Worlds outdoor gold since 2003, said he
had to beat his own nerves as well as Holdzeppe, Lavillenie & Co.
As he explained it, "my whole goal is to make sure I keep my head down
and remember to breathe; you only get to do this once in a while."
Then, it was Infeld's turn.
The Cleveland Heights product had been a solid collegiate runner as a
Georgetown University Hoya, but now that she's upped her training load
as a member of Oregon's Bowerman Track Club, she's raised her game to
brilliant new heights, too.
In the women's 10,000-meter final that saw Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot
(31:41.31) and Ethiopia's Gelete Burka (31:41.77) wait until the 25th and closing lap to
sprint away from the field, Infeld gave valiant chase and caught teammate Molly Huddle right at the
wire to claim the bronze medal.
Kara Goucher's bronze in 2007 had been the only medal ever won by an American
10,000-meter woman at the Worlds.
Arm-in-arm-in-arm, in an exemplary display of team spirit, Infeld, Huddle
and sixth-placer Shalane Flanagan (31:46.23), gazed up at the giant
scoreboard to determine their final positions.
"I'm really thrilled," said Infeld, and that was putting it mildly.
Imagine that - three Americans in the top six on the world stage
and, after 25 rousing laps, just two and a half seconds apart.
Finally, it was Miami of Ohio University grad Huling's turn to
grab some spotlight time.
The 3000-meter steeplechase has been dominated by Kenya's runners for
decades - they've now won it at eight straight
Olympic Games and the last five World Championships.
Yep, that kind of form held up once again as Ezekiel Kemboi claimed his fourth
consecutive individual gold medal in a strategically-run 8:11.28 and Kenya teammates
took the 2-3-4 places behind him.
But there was glory in it, too, for Team USA which gave the Kenyan 'chasers a good
run for their money with Huling fifth (8:14.39), Evan Jager sixth (8:15.47) and Donn Cabral 10th (8:24.94.)
Simply stunning was the sight of Huling coming up with a huge closing rush to
turn the tables on good buddy Jager, the Wisconsin alumnus who'd lowered the
American 'chase record to 8:00.45 in early July.
"The race plan with Jerry (coach Jerry Shumacher) was to race for sixth or seventh,"
said Huling.
"Racing for a medal was probably outside of my talent level, my fitness level
obviously. So I wanted to run for sixth to seventh and if I did that and it gave me
the opportunity to pick off someone, unfortunately, like Evan.
"I'm really gutted for him, I really wanted for him to get a medal. He probably spent a lot more energy to try and get a medal today. He probably had a better race than me."
As any non-Johnny-come-lately student of this sport knows, Ohioans have played some of the
most memorable roles in America's international track and field history.
Long jumper DeHart Hubbard of Cincinnati (back in 1924) was the first African-American
ever to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
Jesse Owens' four golds at Berlin in 1936, are of course, legendary.
A lad he inspired was Harrison Dillard, the Clevelander and Baldwin-Wallace of
Berea man who took the Olympic 100 in 1948 and the 110 high hurdles title in 1952,
on top of a pair of 4x100 golds.
Mal Whitfield of Ohio State followed with Olympic 800 golds in 1948-52 along with
a 4x400 gold and a silver.
Ohio Stater Glenn Davis was the first man to break 50 seconds in the 400 hurdles and
went on to win his event in 1956 and '60, plus a pair of 4x400 golds.
Last American to win the Olympic 800 meters?
None other than Dave Wottle of Ohio's Bowling Green State University in 1972.
Nobody ever posed this one to Hubbard, Owens, Dillard, Whitfield, Davis and
Wottle: Why-oh-why-oh did they ever leave Ohio (and return with golden rewards) ??
Bottom Line: Shawn Barber, Emily Infeld and Dan Huling didn't quite match
all that - but considering that they did it all within a stretch of little more than two
hours on the fourth Monday of August 2015, well
they at at least rate honorable mention.

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