In the middle of the race, when he needed one more gear, Doug Padilla made an unpleasant discovery: He didn't have one.
"It wasn't there, not today," said the Provo runner after failing to qualify for the Olympic 5,000 meter final in a semifinal heat run Thursday afternoon in Olympic Stadium.Padilla settled near the rear of his 15-man heat - with the top six runners moving on to the final - and stayed there. He kept close contact with the leaders through the first half of the 12-lap race. But when he attempted to move up closer to the magical sixth spot he had little in reserve.
"I just wasn't strong enough," said Padilla, who has had a frustrating season, marred by allergy problems and other minor injuries. The former BYU All-American was attempting to qualify for his second straight Olympic 5,000 final.
His final clocking of 13:37.11 was well in back of the 13:24.20 run by Italy's Stefano Mei, who won the second heat. The first heat was won in a faster time, 13:22.44, by Domingus Castro of Portugal.
Sydnee Maree was the lone American to make it into the 5,000 final - scheduled for Saturday.
Other casualties Thursday included Eamonn Martin, the noted British runner, and Eamon Coghlan of Ireland, who finished last in his heat.
Padilla, who turns 32 in five days, said the defeat didn't mean he couldn't continue to work on his training, and get back in top form.
"I'm going to have to look at what I'm doing, and try to fine-tune," he said. "And we'll see what happens."