Vessey leans into tape to win 800 meters in Boston

By Jimmy Golen
AP Sports Writer / February 4, 2012
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BOSTON—Maggie Vessey leaned into the tape to win the women's 800 meters by four one-thousandths of a second. Mo Farah went all the way to the ground in the men's mile.

Farah, the reigning world champion at 5,000 meters and silver medalist in the 10,000, tripped on the first lap of the men's mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday night. He got back up and into second place with three laps to go but he finished fourth, about 2 seconds behind Ireland's Ciaran O'Lionaird.

"I thought I was going to make it all the way," said Farah, a distance runner who rarely competes in the mile and still managed a personal best of 3:57.92. "But my legs just gave out."

Vessey came down the final stretch in third place, running on the inside lane behind Fantu Magiso of Ethiopia. Erica Moore led them both, in Lane 2.

With just steps to go, Vessey brushed past Magiso on the inside and hit the tape at the same official time as Moore: 2 minutes, 2.37 seconds. But it was Vessey with the tape draped around her waist; unofficially, it was 2:02.361 seconds to 2:02.365.

"I just shoved my chest across," Vessey said. "I really wanted to break that tape."

The silver medalist at the U.S. championships and sixth-place finisher at worlds, Vessey said she saw Magiso move slightly to the right, opening up almost big enough to get through. She brushed the Ethiopian's arm as she moved past.

"As soon as that hole opened up, you couldn't stop me," she said. "I just had a little boost of energy."

Moore said she didn't realize Vessey was gaining.

"I thought I had it," she said. "By the time I felt her, it was over."

In other events:

--Jenn Suhr broke her own American record in the pole vault with a height of 16 feet. She was not available for comment; meet organizers said she had a sore Achilles tendon but was still planning to compete in the Millrose Games in New York next week.

--World champion Kirani James of Grenada won the men's 400 meters in 45.96 seconds -- the fastest in the world so far this year. American Josh Scott was second.

--Adam Nelson won the shot put with a throw of 69 feet, 9 1/2 inches, short of the meet record of 71 feet, 3/4 inches he set in 1995.

--Meseret Defar won the women's 3,000 meters, and fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba won the women's 2 mile run.

--Caleb Ndiku of Kenya won the men's 3,000 meters by about one-half second over Ethiopia's Dejen Gebremeskel. Gebremeskel won the race last year despite losing his shoe near the start and running the rest of the race without it. American Matthew Centrowitz was seventh and Andy Baddeley of Great Britain was eighth.

--American David Oliver won the 60 meter hurdles in 7.60 seconds.

The men's mile was supposed to be a matchup between Farah and his training partner, American Galen Rupp, but Farah's heel was clipped in the fourth turn of the first lap and he went down, hands-first.

"Somebody just caught my leg. I've got very, very long strides," said Farah, who fell in Birmingham, England, in 2007 and got up and ran the wrong way. "I wasn't going to do that today."

Farah worked his way back to the pack: He was fifth with four laps left and in second place with three to go. But by the seventh of eight laps, he had fallen to fourth.

"We were planning on taking it about half-way," said Rupp, the American record-holder in the 10,000 meters. "You've got to be ready for anything."

Farah had droplets of blood on his right ankle where he was stepped on but was not otherwise injured; after the meet, he and Rupp ran training laps for more than 30 minutes as workers disassembled the infield.

O'Lionaird was surprised at his good luck.

"Any time I step onto the track with these guys, it's a learning experience," he said. "It's such a privilege."

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