It took Morgan Uceny 27 years to get to this point.
Funny, then, that it will all be over in about four minutes.
The intense training, the sacrifices, the career plans put on hold, it all comes to a head at 3:55 p.m. this afternoon when the self-professed "small-town girl from Plymouth" runs for a gold medal in the women's 1,500-meter run at the London Olympics.
If she can do it -- or if she can win a silver or bronze medal, for that matter -- history will be made. No American has ever won a medal in this event.
"This journey started when I was a child," said Uceny in an interview with Indianapolis television station WTHR following Wednesday's semifinals. "It's not just the past four years. It's a life-long goal."
On paper, she's got a tough road ahead. Seven of the 13 women in the field have run faster than Uceny at some point. Even though she was ranked No. 1 in the world a year ago, few experts are picking Uceny to win.
But Olympic races often don't go to the fastest, they go to the smartest.
Warming up for her semifinal race on Wednesday, Uceny was overtaken by a swarm of flying ants that descended upon the Track & Field stadium.
"Maybe on the warmup track I was eating some bugs, but I didn't notice it in the race at all," Uceny told an Associated Press reporter afterwards. "You are in the zone then. There could have been an earthquake and I'd have no idea."
In theory, at least, the best race for Uceny would be a slow, tactical affair that allows her to utilize her outstanding long kick over the final lap. It's the same strategy she used to win a girls state 800-meter championship while running for Plymouth High School in 2002.
But she says she will be ready for any pace.
"I just have to execute," said Uceny in an interview on the track & field website, Flotrack.org. "There's no reason I shouldn't be in the top three. That's the ultimate goal."
Huddle leads off
Fifty minutes before Uceny steps onto the track, Notre Dame graduate Molly Huddle gets her medal shot in the women's 5,000-meter run.
Huddle, a 10-time All-American while running for the Irish, will attempt to make history also when the starting gun fires at 3:05 p.m. EDT.
As in the 1,500, no American has ever won a medal in this event. Actually, no American has ever finished better than ninth.
Realistically, Huddle is not a threat to win a medal, but an historic top eight finish is not out of the question.
Huddle is the American record holder with a best time of 14:44.76. But the Olympic field includes seven women who have run faster than 14:40.
She is one of two American women in the 5,000-meter final, which has never happened before, either. Teammate Julie Culley actually outkicked Huddle at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Olympic Women's 5,000-Meter Final
3:05 p.m. Friday (EDT)
Lane 1 - Meseret Defar (Ethiopia). Personal best time: 14:12.88
Lane 2 - Joanne Pavey (Great Britain). Personal best time: 14:39.96
Lane 3 - Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia). Personal best time: 14:11.15
Lane 4 - Yelena Nagovitsyna (Russia). Personal best time: 15:02.80
Lane 5 -- Viola Jelagat Kibiwot (Kenya). Personal best time: 14:34.86
Lane 6 - Olga Golovkina (Russia). Personal best time: 15:05.26
Lane 7 - Molly Huddle (United States). Personal best time: 14:44.76
Lane 8 - Sally Jepkosqei Kipyego (Kenya). Personal best time: 14:30.42
Lane 9 - Julia Bleasdale (Great Britain). Personal best time: 15:02.00
Lane 10 - Shitaye Eshete (Bahrain). Personal best time: 15:05.48
Lane 11 - Tejitu Daba (Bahrain). Personal best time: 15:05.59
Lane 12 - Elena Romagnolo (Italy). Personal best time: 15:06.38
Lane 13 - Geleta Burka (Ethiopia). Personal best time: 14:31.20
Lane 14 -- Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (Kenya). Personal best time: 14:20.87
Lane 15 - Julie Culley (United States). Personal best time: 15:05.38
Women's 1,500-Meter Final
3:55 p.m. Friday (EDT)
Lane 1 - Shannon Rowbury (United States). Personal best time: 4:00.33
Lane 2 - Gamze Bulut (Turkey). Personal best time: 4:01.18
Lane 3 - Natallia Kareiva (Belarus). Personal best time: 4:02.37
Lane 4 - Lucia Klocová (Slovak Republic). Personal best time: 4:02.99
Lane 5 - Tatyana Tomashova (Russia). Personal best time: 3:56.91
Lane 6 - Hellen Onsanso Obiri (Kenya). Personal best time: 3:59.68
Lane 7 - Abeba Aregawi (Ethiopia). Personal best time: 3:56.54
Lane 8 - Asli Çakir Alptekin (Turkey). Personal best time: 3:56.62
Lane 9 - Maryam Yusuf Jamal (Bahrain). Personal best time: 3:56.18
Lane 10 - Ekaterina Kostetskaya (Russia). Personal best time: 3:59.28
Lane 11 - Morgan Uceny (United States). Personal best time: 4:00.06
Lane 12 - Laura Weightman (Great Britain). Personal best time: 4:02.99
Lane 13 - Lisa Dobriskey (Great Britain). Personal best time: 3:59.50
Olympic track and field: Uceny, Huddle take shot at history
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