Plymouth's Morgan Uceny has advanced to the semifinals of the 1,500 meter run at the Olympics.
It certainly wasn't easy in her first ever Olympic event in a very competitive and quick 3rd heat, Uceny finished 2nd with time of 4 minutes and 6.89 to move on. She needed to finish in the top 6 to advance and now she will.
“My goal is always to be in the top three in the rounds to make it to the final," Uceny said. "I felt good. I was a little anxious because I haven’t raced a lot. There’s nothing better to prepare you than to do three rounds. I did it once, I can do it again.”
Family and friends watched the race live on the internet at 7am, then gathered together to watch the broadcast on WNDU-TV just after 1pm. So TV broadcast marked the 2nd time Morgan's Aunt Paula Neidlinger was watching the racing--well sorta.
The first one this morning at 6:45, I technically didn't watch because I had my eyes shut the whole time," Aunt Paula admits.
Everyone at the restaurant knew the results--it's impossible for anyone in Plymouth to avoid them. They were plastered on every billboard in town. But some were watching the race for the first time and still getting plenty excited.
"Go Go Go," screamed out longtime Uceny family friend Barb Bailey. "It's unbelievable that a little, little Plymouth Indiana girl does this on her own. Of course, she had help along with the way with her coaches and folks but a lot of dedication for this little gal and she deserves everything she receives."
Uceny is the 2-time reigning U.S. Champion.
The race was a battle from the start as Morgan found herself in the middle of the pack. Midway thru she burst into 3rd place from the outside but with a lap left, she dropped back to 6th before surging late with a big group of finishers to finish 2nd.
Plymouth football coach John Barron was also in the house. He watched the race live on the internet early in the morning with the entire football and cross country teams.
"This is really important to our community to support her," Barron explained. "It doesn't happen very often and it's never happened here. We're proud of her and I want to be there to watch every step of the way."
The Semifinals are Wednesday and the Gold medal run is set for Friday. The football team has a scrimmage at Penn Friday night. The Gold medal run will happen around 3:45pm live on the internet. Barron says his football players will be fully dressed and watching at the school before they get on that bus to Penn.
"I think [Penn coach] Cory Yeoman will understand," Barron says with a smile. "There's no 15 yard penalty for being late for a scrimmage."
Uceny was among the favorites to win gold but a foot injury since the Olympic Trials could be putting that in jeopardy. Uceny was ranked #1 in the 1,500 meter run a year ago.
She did get some help when two threats to medal failed to qualify in Ethiopia's Genzebe Dibaba and Russia's Yekaterina Martynova.
Fellow Americans Shannon Rowbury and Jenny Simpson advanced to the semis as well.
No American woman has ever won a medal in the 1,500 meter run.