BEIJING- When Andrew Wheating stepped onto the track at the National Stadium tonight (local time), he just smiled in amazement. The 20-year-old never expected to be competing at the Olympics this early in his career. But when he finished his 800 meter preliminary heat in 1 minute 47.05 seconds and failed to advance to the semifinals, it wasn’t quite the ending he imagined to his first Olympic experience. Wheating placed 25th overall in the first qualifying round. The only American to reach the semifinals was Nick Symmonds, who won his heat in 1:46.01.
“I should have been able to react a little better," said Wheating. "The first quarter is usually pretty slow and I just wasn’t ready for it [to speed up],” said Wheating, “The heat went out slow and then they dropped the pace from like 53 [seconds per lap] to like 49 pace. It was a bit of a shock and hard to stay with. I let them creep forward and I had to catch them. When I finally caught them, they got away again. It’s a rookie mistake. Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t have to deal with it next time.”
Having just finished his sophomore year at the University of Oregon, Wheating could be a contender in the 800 at the 2012 London Olympics. Next time around, he will probably enter a few more races between the trials and the Olympics, so he will be sharper for the early rounds. He knows he still has a lot to learn about the sport and race experience helps. After all, he didn’t seriously pursue track until his senior year at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H. He has been rapidly rising through the ranks of US distance runners ever since, finishing second in the 800 at the US track and field trials in a personal best 1:45.03.
James Blake reacts after losing a point to Fernando Gonzalez. (Behrouz Mehri / Getty Images)
BEIJING -– The Olympic spirit has been broken for James Blake today at the Olympic Green Tennis Centre.
Throughout the tournament the former Harvard standout praised the virtues of what embodied the Olympic spirit. But following today’s hard-fought 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 semifinal loss to Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez, Blake left losing “a little faith in your fellow competitor.”
After holding serve to take s 9-8 lead in the deciding set, the eighth-seeded Blake hit a shot that was headed directly towards the 12th-seeded Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was close to the ball that landed out of bounds. However, it appeared the ball deflected off the handle of the Chilean’s racket and then fell out. The umpire ruled that the point in favor of Gonzalez, which enraged Blake.
Blake then raced to the chair umpire to plead his case. Replays show that the ball did graze the racket.
“Yeah, I hit a shot that hit Fernando’s racket and then went out,” said Blake. “The umpire didn’t see that it hit his racket. Playing in the Olympics, in what’s supposed to be considered a gentleman’s sport, that’s a time to call it on yourself. Fernando looked me square in the eye and didn’t call it.”
BEIJING -- Competing in his first Olympic Games, Brady Ellison (Glendale, Ariz.) shot a score of 664 to place 15th and lead the US contingent in men's archery competition at the Olympic Green Archery Field in Beijing Saturday afternoon.
Butch Johnson (Woodstock, Conn.) shot a 653, good for 40th place, just one point ahead of teammate Vic Wunderle (Mason City, Ill.). All three archers advance to the elimination round on Wednesday. In the team competition, the men placed 10th out of 12 teams and will vie for team honors on Sunday, with competition scheduled to being at 10 p.m.
Click here to check out more local athletes who will be competing in Beijing.
Look for contributions from the following Globe Staffers in Beijing:
- John Powers
- Shira Springer
- Bob Ryan
- Marc J. Spears
- Gregory Lee
- Scott LaPierre
- Patricia Wen