American runner Molly Huddle had a once-in-a-lifetime moment. When she celebrated it too soon, she lost it.
As Huddle, 30, approached the finish line at the 10,000 meters Monday at the World Championships in Beijing, she watched Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya and Gelete Burka of Ethiopia finish in first and second place, respectively. Huddle thought she was in the clear for third.
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Molly Huddle celebrates too early, then nipped for bronze medal by Emily Infeld in 10,000m by .09 pic.twitter.com/i8PMNWclUQ
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When Huddle threw up her hands to celebrate the bronze, fellow American Emily Infield slid past her on the inside. Infield, with a time of 31:43:49, claimed the bronze by .09 seconds. Huddle saw no trouble on her right and thought she did not have to worry about a threat on her left.
"It's painful to watch,” Huddle said. "Emily slipped on the inside as I eased up a little bit. She had this once-in-a-lifetime moment. I feel like it kind of slipped through my fingers. … The Olympics are typically a hard race, not a tactical one, so this probably won’t ever come around again.”
After more than a half hour of running, Huddle's subtle two-arm raise cost her a spot on the podium. Infield, who was running just her third 10,000 meters ever, got bittersweet glory.
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"I just tried to run all the way through the line,” Infeld said. "I don’t think [Huddle] knew I was there. I hate to take a medal away from a teammate and fellow American. … I don't mean to snipe someone or do that. I feel like that’s kind of like a [expletive] way to get it, so I feel kind of bad now."
The bronze medal was Infield's first major medal. Huddle won a bronze in the 5,000 meters at the 2010 Continental Cup.
At least Huddle didn't gesture to the crowd for cheers like this Oregon runner in a steeplechase event in April:
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