Utah athletes Doug Padilla, Henry Marsh and Denise Parker all survived to compete another day Wednesday at the Seoul Olympic Games.
In preliminary competition:- Marsh had to run the fastest 3,000-meter steeplechase he's run in two years to make it out of the semifinal heats and qualify for the 13-man final Friday (Thursday night in Utah).
- Padilla was able to lope to an easy qualification in the first heat of the 5,000 meters. He'll run in the semifinal heats Thursday, aiming for a spot in the finals Saturday.
- And Parker finished 11th individually to comfortably qualify for the women's archery eighth-round competition that starts Thursday.
Running in the first of two steeplechase heats, Marsh qualified with a time of 8:18.94, easily his best time of the season and nearly six full seconds what he ran at the U. S. Trials.
At that, it was barely enough to qualify for a steeplechase final that figures to be lightning fast and could challenge the Olympic record of 8:08.02 set by Swede Anders Garderud in 1976. All 13 runners who qualified ran under 8:20. That left the other two U. S. entries - Brian Diemer and Brian Abshire - out of the finals. They ran 8:23.89 and 8:27.78, respectively.
Marsh ran a tactical race, reasoning that any time under 8:20 would qualify. His laps were all almost the precise same 70-second pace.
"An even pace isn't my kind of race," said Marsh. "To tell you the truth, I was hoping to feel easier after an 8:18. But to hold it up without a kick, that's encouraging.
"I'm just happy to be in the final," he said. "That was my minimum objective this year. Now I have a chance to finish in the top 10 in the world, which would make it 12 years in a year. And also, I have now qualified for the finals in three Olympics and every world championship I've entered. So I feel good about that. I have to look at the final as frosting, gravy, whatever you want to call it."
The focus for Friday's final will be on Italy's Francesco Panetta, the defending world champion who qualified two spots ahead of Marsh, at 8:17.23. Panetta, a noted frontrunner, will be expected to take the lead and try to hold it.
Marsh, who has won every steeplechase he's ever won by coming from behind, will have to depend on a final lap kick.
William Van Dijck of Belgium and Azzeddine Brahmi of Algeria led the two qualifying heats Wednesday, but they aren't considered the strongest competition to Panetta. Kenyans Julius Kariuki, Peter Koech and Patrick Sang should be at the forefront in the later stages of the race, along with Hager Welzer, an East German, Mark Rowland of Great Britain, and another Italian, Alessandro lambruschini.
In Wednesday's first round of the 5,000 meters, 30 runners moved on out of a starting field of 57. Padilla qualified easily, finishing fifth in his heat, the second of three that were run.
As it turned out, and as luck had it for Padilla, heat No. 2 was by far the slowest of the three heats. His clocking of 13:58.45 was the third slowest time moving into the semis.
"I don't feel too bad," said Padilla after the race. "It was slow, so I better feel pretty good.
"It felt good to be in a race again. It's been awhile since I've been in this kind of competition - since 1985, really. There were a lot of new faces out there. It was hard to get a reading on who's strong and who isn't."
Padilla, track's Grand Prix champion of 1985, has battled injury and allergy problems the past two years, but came on strong at the U. S. Trials. He was one of three Americans qualifying into the semis. Sydnee Maree and Terry Brahm also had little trouble making it.
At the archery venue at Hwarang Stadium, Parker survived a shaky fourth-round of shooting at 30 meters to still move into the 24-woman finals with ease.
She stood in 10th position overall with the 36 arrows to go at 30 meters, the shortest of four distances contested Tuesday and Wednesday. She scored 335 points to rank just 37th in that event, but still only slipped one spot in the overall standings.
The top 24 finalists shoot at all four distances - 70, 60, 50 and 30 meters - Thursday as the elimination process begins that will crown the medalists Friday afternoon. A total of 18 shooters will move into the quarter finals Thursday afternoon, with 12 survivors from that group moving into the semifinals Friday morning.
The eight best from that group will shoot in the finals Friday afternoon.
Saturday morning will crown team champions.
The strong Korean team dominated the first two days of competition. Soo-Kyung Kim finished first overall with with a score of 1,331 that included a world record 336 points at 50 meters. Teammates Hee-Kyung Wang and Young-Sook Yun finished second and third with 1,298 and 1,296 points, respectively.
Jenny Sjowall of Sweden was fourth at 1,294, followed by Joanne Franks of Great Britain (1,281) and three Soviets, Lioudmila Arjannikova (1,279), Tatiana Mountian (1,272) and Natalia Boutouzova (1,267).
Paivi Alltonen of Finland and Liu Pi-Yu of Taiwan tied for ninth with scores of 1,266, followed by Parker's 1,263 total.
Her score was well off the 1,301 she posted at the U. S. Trials. But all scoring from the first two days is wiped clean going into the eighth-finals.