Beijing Stories: Matthew Centrowitz's Golden Ambition & His Mom's Favorite Moments, by Sabrina Yohanes


Centrowitz_Matt1f-USout15.JPGMatthew Centrowitz, photo by

The 600 meter run by Matthew Centrowitz in the US championships was, well, crushing. He could have waited and kicked, but, his move probably held off the final charge by Robbie Andrews. Centrowitz is a championship runner: this is something that one nurtures, as Alberto Salazar has done.

I recall, back in 2012, sitting in the Amsterdam airport with Dathan Ritzenhein. We were speaking about Matthew then, and Ritz noted just how much promise Centro had.

Here is a little different approach to a story on Centro from Sabrina Yohannes.

Matthew Centrowitz's Golden Ambitions & His Mom's Favorite Moments

By Sabrina Yohannes

As Matthew Centrowitz of the United States seeks to earn his third straight world championships medal in the Beijing 1500m, one person who will be watching anxiously is his mother, Beverly, a former 800m runner.

After taking bronze in Daegu in 2011 and silver two years later in Moscow, Matthew Centrowitz hopes to go one better in 2015.

"I think it just would be the coolest thing in the world to be called the world champion at one point in your career," he said in an interview earlier this year. "I've gotten to second, I've gotten to third. I'd be lying to tell you that I don't envision myself setting the goal of getting first."

Kenya's defending world champion Asbel Kiprop, who won the Monaco Diamond League on July 17 in 3:26.69, is the Beijing favorite.

In addition to running a key lead-off leg for an American distance medley relay team that set a world indoor best, the London Olympic fourth-place finisher Centrowitz has improved his outdoor personal records this year, running 1:44.62 for 800m at the adidas Grand Prix in New York and 3:30.40 for 1500m in Monaco in the lead-up to Beijing.

He addressed the unpredictability of the metric mile at championships.

"If you look at all of the events, the 1500 is the biggest crapshoot because there's a big balance of tactics and speed, and honestly, anything can go down," he said. "There's people that have fallen. There's been favorites that haven't even made it out of the heats, so there's a lot of things that can go on. I just really focus on myself. I don't worry about any particular other athlete, and as long as I know I run to what I'm capable of running, it'll result in a good finish."

Centrowitz has given his family -- including the other runners, his father Matt, a former U.S. Olympian, and his sister Lauren, who ran at Stanford University -- some very good championships finishes to be proud of, and in an interview during the indoor season, his mother shared her memories of her son's medals.

"I always get nervous, like any mom would be, before the race," she said.

"His first medal, as you know, was in Daegu, South Korea. That was a shock, I think, for everyone. We watched it from home. Watching all the rounds and just watching his confidence soaring and watching his third place -- which was, I would definitely say, one of my favorite moments ever."

"He was a kid in college," she added of her son, a 21-year-old student at the University of Oregon at the time. She went on to describe him being in eighth position at the start of the final lap after several competitors moved up on his outside.

"And all of a sudden, you just saw him churning, you know, down the backstretch, and just catching people one at a time. He came off the last turn and then he just ran wide, and ... it was just a total sprint, passing everyone and finishing third.

"And I remember him - I still remember it - just looking up, when he saw his name come up for third."

Centrowitz covered his last 400m in 51.4, closing faster than the winner Kiprop and his runner-up and teammate Silas Kiplagat. Left in their wake were Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco and Nick Willis of New Zealand, who earned Olympic medals in 2012 and 2008.

When Centrowitz ran the Moscow 2013 final, his mother, watching from the U.S., was moved by his silver-medal performance.

"And then I remember crying," she said. "How he eased in and finished behind Kiprop - with whom, you know, they have a good relationship, a lot of respect for each other - was mind-blowing."

Centrowitz finished ahead of South African Johan Cronje and Kenyan 2011 Diamond trophy winner Nixon Chepseba as well as Kiplagat.

As far as Centrowitz's outing at the 2015 world championships is concerned, his mother's hopes for him mirrored his own.

"He won bronze; he was second last time," she said. "It would be wonderful, you know, if he could win gold."

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