Robbie Andrews winning Adro Mile at Adrian Martinez Memorial, 4 June 2015, photo by PhotoRun.net
With three Americans in the final on Sunday evening, and nine more of the finest runners on the planet, the Beijing WC 1,500m should be awesome. Elliott Denman writes of Robbie Andrews, post 1,500m semi on Friday night, and the incident where Andrews gave up the contents of his stomach after a strong race….
BEIJING – Robby Andrews lost his supper, maybe his lunch and quite possibly his breakfast.
But as he retched it all away Friday night – into a bucket placed in clear sight of inquiring journalists
in the mixed zone, deep underneath the Bird’s Nest Stadium, you could tell that he felt
the sacrifice was well worth it.
A dozen men have made it into the 1500-meter final at the 15th World Championships of
Track and Field and the proud resident of Manalapan, New Jersey is one of them, a huge achievement.
He’s also is younger than all but one of them.
But at 24, he’s running at the top of his game and it wouldn’t be too hugely surprising to see him
squeeze through – as he has now done in the first round and semifinals of the 1500 – once again
and do something momentous in the 1500 final set for 7:45 p.m. Sunday.
Analyzing his 3:35.88 qualifying performance Friday night – moments before giving in to the
urge to give it all up, Andrews said “I got out pretty well. Early in the race, guys were making moves to push to the front. Luckily, I was in the second heat (destined to provide the two “time qualifiers” for the final) so I knew I had to be top seven to advance.
“It was tough, they were really running. I just had to make sure I had enough left, with 200
to go, 100 to go. And I was lucky to squeak it on in.
“The final? It’s going to be a battle, everyone wants a medal, that’s for sure.”
And, right then and there, he was lucky to make it to the bucket without losing
it all somewhere en route.
But this Andrews performance was a lot more than good fortune, and an emptying stomach.
Robby Andrews has been building to this moment for at least a decade.
Guided by his dad, Bob Andrews, once a star middle distance runner for Penn, and a
supportive Mom and sister, he’s been making strides, it seems, all his young life.
And by coach Jason Vigilante in college and now beyond.
Andrews was brilliant at Manalapan High, running great races at everything from 400-meter relay legs to
5Ks of cross country and setting national records at 800 and 1000.
He was brilliant at the University of Virginia, taking a pair of NCAA 800-meter titles, and running some sizzling relay legs. All of this done with one of the most amazing finishing kicks seen in the sport for years.
But that was child’s play compared to current goings-on.
The Worlds are The Big Leagues, baby. This is “The Show” of the sport. This is where it’s
all on the line. This is where you produce – or go home and weep.
The 1500 will have a dozen-man field and, for just the second time in the history of the
Worlds, Team USA will have a “full house” of three qualifiers.
Matthew Centrowitz, second placer at the 2013 Worlds in Moscow and third at 2011 Worlds
In Daegu, Korea, is there again, and so is teammate Leo Manzano.
The first of the two semis was slow-paced before turning frantic – just as
It always transpires in such situations. But “Centro” kept his cool to stride home
fourth in it, running a 3:43.97 behind two-time Worlds defender Asbel Kiprop of Kenya
(3:43.48), vet Nick Willis of New Zealand (3:43.57), and 2011 Worlds runner-up Silas Kiplagat of
Edging into fifth and advancing with “Centro” at 3:44.28 was Manzano.
And then it was Andrews, et al, lining up for semi two, clearly advantaged by knowing
they all would have no problem beating out the laggards of the first semi.
It worked exactly as most expected.
Elijah Manangoi of Kenya, at 22 the only finalist younger than Andrews, took it in
3:35 flat with 11 quality runners jockeying for position in his tracks.
Andrews was fifth of those trailers, qualifying on time, to set up his date with
Worlds destiny Sunday night.
Just one American entry has ever won the 1500 at Worlds – and that was Bernard
Lagat at Osaka in 2007.
Two silver medals have gone back to America – Steve Scott back in 1983, and “Centro”
in 2013. Team USA’s best have also earned three bronze medals – Jim Spivey in
1987, Lagat in 2009, and “Centro” in 2011.
Those 2009 Worlds also marked the one and only occasion that Team USA
put three into the final – back of Lagat in third, Lopez Lomong ran eighth and
Manzano was 12th.
Low points for USA 1500-meter ambitions at the Worlds came in 2003, 1997 and 1991 – zero
The interviewer was about to ask Robby Andrews if he’d already started considering strategy for the final; if he’s go back to the old wait-wait-wait and kick like a madman plan that had often worked so well – and made him one of the most exciting runners in the sport; or if he’d “hang in” regardless of early pace,and just “bring it in” with whatever he had left.
But he was about to lose the contents of his stomach just as the question was to be posed.
That’s Robby Andrews for you – forever ready to give it up for a good cause.