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Cornellians at the London games

While it appeared to Olympic viewers that Morgan Uceny '07 was down and out after a devastating tumble to the track in the finals of the 1,500-meter race Aug. 10, she was already making peace with her disappointment by the closing ceremonies two nights later.

Morgan Uceny

Morgan Uceny '07.

"I still don't know what happened," Uceny told the Associated Press. "I've heard a few different things from people but can't say definitively what or who caused the fall."

Her disappointment was undoubtedly amplified by familiarity: Uceny suffered a similar fate in the 2011 World Championships -- the biggest race of a non-Olympic year.

Uceny's run for an Olympic medal began well. Entering 2012 as the world's No. 1 runner in the 1,500, she qualified at the U.S. Olympic trials in June, easily winning the race with a time of 4:04.59 and punching her ticket to London.

Once she arrived in England for the games, Uceny had a terrific showing in the preliminary race and the semifinals. Coasting through and saving her energy for the final laps, Uceny paced herself to a 4:06.87 in the third heat of the semifinals, good for second in that race. Two days later in the Aug. 8 semis, Uceny trimmed her time by one second and finished third across the line at 4:05.34, setting her up for a run at Olympic gold.

But all that was forgotten with her shocking fall in the final in front of a stadium packed with more than 60,000 people. After the fall, she lay on the track for minutes without getting up.

Still image from Nathan Taylor's video interview with Muhammad Halim

While in London, Cornell men's track coach Nathan Taylor took video of some of the Olympic events, narrated a tour of the Olympic Village and also interviewed Muhammad Halim '08, seen here. Go to Cornell Athletics' YouTube page to see some of the videos Taylor posted.

"I've never experienced such a heartbreaking moment," Uceny wrote on her Facebook page after the race. "As soon as it happened I knew it was over, and I couldn't control the emotions."

Two other Big Red alums made an impact in London.

Muhammad Halim '08 delivered his best performance of the year with a long jump of 16.39 meters, earning him an 18th-place finish in the triple jump semifinals while representing the U.S. Virgin Islands. Coached by Cornell men's track coach Nathan Taylor, Halim just missed qualifying for the event finals by 23 centimeters -- less than a foot.

Nathan Taylor

Coach Nathan Taylor.

After his first attempt of 15.54 meters, Halim improved by nearly a full meter in his second jump to leap from what would have been a last-place jump all the way to 18th.

Throughout the Olympics, Taylor provided video updates and blog posts for His insights made for a thrilling way for Cornell fans to live the Olympic experience through the eyes of a coach.

Ken Jurkowski

Ken Jurkowski '03.

In rowing single sculls, Ken Jurkowski '03 started off well by placing third in his heat to advance to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals three days later, he placed fifth in his group, knocking him out of medal contention but putting him in a lower semifinal. Once in the semis, Jurkowski crossed the finish line sixth, and he did not compete in the finals.

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