LONDON – Former Northern Arizona Lumberjack Lopez Lomong of the United States advanced to the finals of the 5,000m Wednesday, but college teammate David McNeill of Australia was not as fortunate.
“I just wanted to race to be able to qualify, so I wasn’t looking to win the race and I just wanted to stay out of trouble and not get tripped over,” said Lomong after the race. “I’m happy, I came out here and got the automatic qualifier, and we’ll see you Saturday.”
Lomong, who represented the United States, was fourth in his heat in 13:26.19. Hayle IsIbrahimov of Azerbaijan crossed the line first in a time of 13:25.23. Isiah Kiplangat Koech of Kenya was second ,followed by 10,000m gold medalist Mo Farah of Great Britain. The top five finishers in each heat plus the next top five times advanced to the final on Saturday.
McNeill, who led the race at the 2k mark, finished 13th in Heat One in 13:45.88.
Lomong will run in his first Olympic final with a chance at a medal. He was eliminated in the semifinal heats of the 1,500m four years ago in Beijing.
Americans Bernard Lagat, who trains with McNeill in Tucson, and Galen Rupp both advanced. Lagat was third in the second heat in 13:15.45, while Rupp advanced on time after placing sixth at 13:17.56. Cam Levins of Southern Utah, who runs for Canada, also advanced on time after finishing eighth in the second heat.
“My coach told me to be prepared that this race is going to be fast, and indeed it was fast,” said Lagat. “He told me to make sure you are in good position and run relaxed, and I did. He told me toward the end run a bit faster and be with the guys who are leading, and as long as you know you are safe, no need to win, just run hard … I was quite happy with it.”