LONDON – Carmelita Jeter slipped. Galen Rupp rose. And the United States' once again came up empty in its quest for that elusive first gold medal in track and field.
On a day when the U.S. suffered a major loss with the hamstring injury to 400-meter specialist LaShawn Merritt, Jeter and Rupp took silver medals in the 100-meter dash and 10,000-meter run, respectively – both going in opposite directions of expectations.
Jeter, the defending world champion in the 100m, went stride-for-stride with Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 finals, getting edged at the line in a photo finish. Fraser-Pryce was defending her gold medal in the event from the Beijing Games in 2008 and came in at 10.75 seconds, just an eyelash ahead of Jeter's 10.78. While certainly not a disappointing silver, the Americans had gold medal hopes in the event after securing three finalists, with Allyson Felix and Tianna Madison also making the final. Madison finished fourth at 10.85, with Felix right behind in fifth at 10.89.
"I feel I came out here and I ran the race that I could possibly run," Jeter said. "I left my heart and soul on that track. When you do that, you definitely can't be upset. I know I've worked hard and I've pushed myself all year. When you've done that, you definitely can't feel upset at all.
"It was a power-filled final. I'm just glad I got the finish line. I hope I represented the USA."
Rupp captured silver one event before Jeter, kicking to an astounding and unexpected second place in the 10km. It was Rupp's first medal ever at a senior-level international meet, and his first in Olympic competition. And while it comes after he won the men's 10km in U.S. qualifying, the Olympic event was expected to be dominated by Ethiopian brothers Kenenisa and Tariku Bekele and Britain's Mo Farah, who has been Rupp's training partner for more than 18 months.
For much of the race, Farah and Rupp ran in tandem, with Farah taking the lead down the stretch and Rupp in close behind him. It appeared to be a part of a plan where the duo protected each other, with Farah setting the pace and Rupp protecting his progress from other runners coming from behind. That pair separated themselves from the pack in a gut-churning final 200 meters, with Farah kicking free and crossing the finish at 27:30.42 and Rupp at 27:30.90.
"He's one of my best friends," Farah said. "Over the last year and a half, I've got to know Galen really well. … I'm just so happy that he finished second. In terms of tactics, we were going to aim to work together if anything happened and then when it comes to the last few laps, every man for himself."
The two medals were a climactic end to the second day of what has been a less than ideal start for the U.S. The Americans' two gold-medal hopefuls in shot put, Reese Hoffa and Christian Cantwell, were undone by cold Friday night and finished with bronze (Hoffa) and fourth place (Cantwell). Then came Merritt's devastating hamstring injury, forcing the Beijing gold medalist out of his signature 400m run and also likely off the gold-defending 4x400 relay team. But the stumbling appeared to be over when Jeter, Felix and Madison stormed into the final of the 100m dash. While a sweep appeared unlikely, two out of three medals – and potentially gold – seemed like a realistic possibility.
But it wasn't to be, as Madison and Felix started the race with the seventh- and eighth-ranked reactions times, and Jeter simply couldn't out push Fraser-Pryce at the line.
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