Morgan Uceny, ’07, on the Eve of a World Championship
Posted by Alfonse Muglia on August 31, 2011
Suggested read: “Uceny Headed to London for 2012 Olympics” (07/02/12)
While the majority of Cornell student are snuggled in their beds early tomorrow morning (and the more motivated among us are preparing for the first day of September), 2007 graduate Morgan Uceny will be running her way to a shot at her first world championship. After a week of hard work in Dague, South Korea, home of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships, Uceny has positioned herself in the field of 12 that will take the line in the 1500 meter race at 7:55 AM EST tomorrow.
The 26 year old star earned her starting position after placing third in her heat over the weekend and fifth in the semifinal on Monday.
Uceny’s journey began long before this competition in Northeast Asia. An Indiana native, Uceny spent her summers working on her father’s masonry crew and caring for the family’s animals, as told by Sports Illustrated’s Olympic insider Tim Layden in his column this afternoon. During her time at Cornell, Uceny was a four-time All-American, highlighted by a 6th place finish in the 800m at the 2007 NCAA Championships. She still holds seven Cornell records (Indoor & Outdoor 800m, Indoor 500m, and four as a member of a relay team).
With her move up to the 1500m, Uceny is achieving even greater success. She erupted onto the international stage this June when she won the Diamond League’s 1500m race in Lausanne, Switzerland. Ten days later, she won again at another Diamond League competition, this time in Birmington, England.
These victories should give Uceny the confidence needed to win tomorrow’s race, as she has already beaten some of the world’s best 1500m runners. Bahrain’s Marvam Yusuf Jamal, who enters the final with the field’s fastest time this year of 4:00:33, finished tenth in Lausanne. Ethiopia’s Kalkidan Gezahegna, owner of the second fastest time in tomorrow’s starting lineup, finished fifth.
The evidence is clear: Uceny can win. Her personal best of 4:05:51 is the seventh fastest in the starting lineup, yet after two grueling races this week to get to this point, the key to winning the final may come down to pure willpower.
And if there is one thing a person learns from four years on the Hill, it’s willpower.
“You have a strategy and a plan,” Uceny told Runner’s World magazine last week, “but if that doesn’t happen, you have to have enough confidence in yourself and enough intelligence to know how to react well.”
Uceny is the first Cornell graduate to represent the United States at the World Championships since Stephanie Best, ’91, did so in 1999.