Nate Brannen falls in 1500m semiAugust 5, 2012
By Mihira Lakshman
Nate Brannen arrived in London in the best shape of his life, ran tactically perfect in his 1500m heat, and looked to be in great position in his semifinal. Then his Olympic dreams came crashing down in an instant.
Brannen found himself face down on the track with 600m to go in his 1500m semifinal, Sunday at London’s Olympic stadium.
The 29-year-old from Cambridge, Ont., got back up, but understandably had no energy left to match the kick of his competitors, finishing 12th in 3:39.26.
Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat led most of the way, ensuring an honest pace, before giving way to Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider, who won the heat in 3:33.99. Kiplagat was second in 3:34.60.
Another Kenyan, Asbel Kiprop, led most of the first heat, before finishing second to Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria.
The top five plus the next two fastest times advanced to Tuesday’s final.
For Brannen, it’s especially hard to take given the sacrifices he made to reach this point. The young father sold his shares in a Florida running store and moved to Arizona to train full-time. Despite only seeing his family sparingly, the move paid off. He ran a personal best of 3:34.22 earlier this season, and told Canadian Running he felt ready to run about 3:32.
After running the first lap of his Olympic semifinal in the middle of the pack, he was attempting to move out wide to stay out of trouble when he appeared to get clipped by Nick Willis of New Zealand. Ironically, Willis and Brannen are close friends from their time at the University of Michigan.
Brannen was distraught and bloodied in his post-race interview on national television. He struggled to find answers to what seems like an unfair ending to his best year of training in his decade-long professional track career.
“I was coming here to fight for a medal,” Brannen told CTV. “Obviously, I’m disappointed.”
Athletics Canada launched an appeal, hoping Brannen could be reinstated for the final. But in the end, it was denied.
“Jury of appeal looked at the video,” Athletics Canada stated on its Facebook Page. “It clearly showed that Nate clipped the heels of the athlete in front of him, went down, and was then stepped on while he was on the ground. That’s where the spike marks came from.”