Molly Huddle Shatters American record in 10,000m
In a sport typically dominated by East African nations, Molly Huddle raced close in the Olympic 10,000m, falling just short of the podium, shattering the American record on the way.
The race in Rio was easily the fastest ever run in the history, with the 23 year old world record being smashed by Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana, by over 14 seconds. An unprecedented four runners finished under the 30 minute mark, in a race that saw Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot get silver, and Tiruesh Dibaba of Eithiopia taking home the bronze.
Huddle, of Elmira, NY, vaulted the other worldly pace into a new American record, shattering the old one by over six seconds. The previous record was set eight years ago by Shalane Flanaga, who competed in Rio this Olympics as part of the marathon team. Huddle had previously described the national record as “ridiculous”, implying that it was probably unreachable for her. She ended up finishing sixth, but did finish a whole 20 seconds off of the podium.
However, Huddle can’t be too upset about the results, considering the first, third and fifth fastest times in history were all in that competition. She wasn’t expected to medal in the event, but her showing was incredibly encouraging for the United States, which has shown a slight rebirth in the distance and middle distance races as of late on the international stage.
What made her record setting performance even more impressive was that the 10,000m isn’t even Huddle’s preferred race. She is normally a 5,000m specialist, being so strong that she not only won the race at the U.S. Olympic Trials, but she also holds the American record there as well. However, leading up to the games, she opted to withdraw from the 5,000m hoping to only focus on her other race. She and her coaches reasoned that running a 30:20 would probably get her a medal. She surpassed that goal with flying colors, running a 30:13, but it still wasn’t nearly enough. Her original target would have placed her in the same position, sixth, after all was said and done.
American teammate Emily Infeld finished in eleventh place in the event, which was another strong showing for Team USA. Infeld was the runner that passed Huddle up in the 5,000m in the world championships last year, when Huddle celebrated her potential bronze medal finish early, ceding the position to Infeld.