Uceny: “What’s done is done”

Imagine you are a race car driver about to win the Indianapolis 500. Heading into the last turn, you can see the checkered flag waving up ahead.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a slower driver spins and crashes into you, sending your car into the wall. You can only watch as one of your teammates zooms past and steals the victory.
How do you feel?
Well, that was Morgan Uceny’s experience at last year’s World Track & Field Championships. The Plymouth High School grad was in position to win a gold medal in the women’s 1500-meter run, when a Kenyan runner tripped and fell in front of her, knocking Uceny out of the race. Another American, Jenny Simpson, went on to win the world title.
Sure, Uceny was upset at the time. Who wouldn’t be? But, she says it’s all water under the bridge, now.
“What’s done is done. I’ve moved on from that. I really don’t think much about it, any more,” says Uceny, who hopes to put last year’s mishap in the rearview mirror by making another run for Gold at the London Olympics later this summer.
Step One is getting there, which Uceny will try to do next week at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
The trials began Thursday, and stretch over nine days on the famed track at the University of Oregon. It’s a facility Uceny is well-familiar with. She won a national championship in the 1500 last year on the same track.
Uceny doesn’t run her first qualifying race until next Thursday so there is plenty of time to get nervous. But the former high school state champ — she won an IHSAA girls 800-meter title for Plymouth in 2002 — has raced all over the world, in all sorts of situations.
She can handle it.
“Usually, I’m the most nervous in the first (preliminary) rounds, because the adrenaline’s flowing, and everybody is fighting just to advance,” says Uceny, who was ranked No. 1 in the world last year by Track & Field News magazine.
“By the time the final rolls around, I’m usually pretty relaxed,” she added. “I know what I have to do; I just have to do it.”
There are three rounds of the 1500 to work through: a qualifying race on Thursday, the semifinals on Friday, and then the final, to be broadcast live on NBC at 7:23 p.m. Sunday, July 1.
On paper, Uceny should be a shoo-in to make the Olympic Team. She owns the fastest time by any American this season, 4:01.59. She’s the defending national champ. And even though Track & Field News magazine has selected Uceny to finish second in the Trials — behind Simpson — that would be fine with her, if it happens.
“The top three make the team, and that’s really all I care about,” says Uceny. “Times are not a priority. It would be nice to win, but (winning) is the least of my concerns.
“We’ll just have to see how the race goes. If I get into a position where I’m sure to make the team, where I know it’s secure, then maybe I will think about the next step; think about trying to win it. But not before that.”
In preparation for the Trials, Uceny has been racing around Europe — literally. She returned to the United States about two weeks ago and has been sharpening at her training camp in southern California.
If she makes the Olympic Team, it will probably be several months before she sees Plymouth again.
It’s a long road. But she believes her plan is coming together.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” she says. “I’m happy with my decision to go to Europe, because the races over there have been really good preparation. I think it will all pay off.”
We will all find out next week.
Uceny is one of a handful of northern Indiana athletes hoping to do well in the Olympic Trials.
Winamac High School graduate Shane Crawford and South Bend LaSalle’s Leroy Dixon are both entered in the men’s 100-meter dash.
Fort Wayne Concordia grad Alissa McKaig competes Friday in the women’s 10,000-meter run. Indiana University’s Andy Bayer, from Leo, is running the men’s 1500. He won an NCAA title in that event earlier this month.
And Merrillville’s David Neville, who already won a Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics, is competing in the men’s 400-meter dash.
NBC and the NBC Sports Network will broadcast 12 hours of the Trials live. The full schedule may be found at: