Gray had the look of dispair in her face. Who wouldn't? Laps from claiming a trip to the Olympics less than two years after she learned to race walk.
With one lap to go, neither Michta nor Melville made their move. Top two for teammates is great, but only one could go to London. They were fast, but over a minute above the Olympic A Standard time. Every rookie coach knows you don't wait till the end of the race to sprint. It's too risky. Would it come down to a final sprint or would someone burst out with 400m to go?
300 meters to go, they walked stride for stride. Surely someone would make a break. One would have thought that would be Melville as Michta is known for a wicked kick. 200 meters to go and they were neck and neck. Finally, Michta made her move and it was checkmate. She pulled away down the final straight.
Maria Michta crosses the line in 1:34: 53.33, in first and with the label Olympian.
I don't think anyone could ever be more proud of a 2nd place finish. A gutsy race with almost the perfect storybook ending Melville crossed the line in a huge PR of 1:34:56.92.
Competitors? Yes, but competition ends at the finish line and Michta and Melville are true friends happy for each other's accomplishments.
So close, the pain of proximity must have been worse than the sheer physical exhaustion for Erin Gray finishing third in 1:35:40.05.
The women's 20K story continues...