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For Berian, victory is a lot of burgers


TRIBUNE PHOTO: DAVID BLAIR - Boris Berian of the U.S. wins the 800-meter indoor championship Saturday night at the Oregon Convention Center.Less than two years ago, Boris Berian was earning $8 an hour at a McDonald’s in Colorado.

On Saturday, Berian ran a determined 800 meters on the Oregon Convention Center’s green track to earn a gold medal at the IAAF World Indoor.

Berian earned $40,000. Or, to put it another way, it took him 1 minute, 45.83 seconds of running to make what would have taken 5,000 hours at McDonald’s.

“Just don’t let go of your dreams,” Berian said. “I spent four years in high school with my coach convincing me I could be someone really good at track. He basically brainwashed me for four years, and I never let go of that. I just kept running and holding on to that dream, and it came to me.”

The Colorado Springs, Colo., native won wire-to-wire. After storming to a large early lead, Berian looked like he would be caught near the end.

But he fed off the energy of the sellout crowd of 7,173 and closed with a world championship kick.

After taking a quick peak behind him, Berian triumphantly crossed the finish line and repeatedly pounded his heart with his fist.

“Just making it exciting and keep the crowd on its toes and see how strong I am,” Berian said of his strategy. “It helps just naturally being fast. I’m a speed-based guy. … It was a quick pace, but I trusted my strength, and that’s what got me through it.”

The victory came less than two years from a summer spent in Colorado Springs. After dropping out of Adams State when ruled ineligible to compete, Berian began crashing on friends’ couches and finding time to train around flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

“Coming from nowhere a year ago to win an indoor world championship is going in the best direction I possibly can,” Berian said. “I was off the scene (for a year). I was just training by myself and wasn’t able to compete anywhere on my own and didn’t go to any meets.

“I was just staying positive and hoping this dream would happen on my own.”


In other finals on Day 3 of the four-day championships:

• Bin Dong of China won the men’s triple jump with a mark of 56-10 ¼.

Dong is coached by former U.S. coach Randy Huntington at a training center in Beijing.

Huntington, a University of Oregon graduate who was a volunteer assistant track and field coach under Bill Dellinger, is enjoying the challenge of training Dong and other Chinese jumpers in their home country.

“I want to leave a legacy and represent the United States in a positive way to the people of China,” Huntington said. “That’s the Eugene in me right there. I also want to leave these (athletes) the knowledge to go on and do what they need to do.”

• Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela won the women’s triple jump, going 47-3 ½. Of her six attempts Saturday, her winning mark came on the only jump that counted. She fouled on the other five.

“Just one jump needed to win today,” said Rojas, who described her mood as “happy, happy, happy.”

• Michelle Carter of USA added to her lengthy list of accomplishments with a victory in the women’s shot put. Carter achieved her world-leading and national indoor record mark of 66-3 ¾ on her sixth and final attempt.

“I’ve been in a lot of situations where that’s happened and a lot of situations where I just didn’t have it that day,” said Carter, a two-time Olympian. “Today it was there and it showed up and I’m glad it did.”

• Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy won a rousing men’s high jump competition that featured three competitors clearing 7-7 ¾.

Tamberi then broke the three-way tie with a clearance at 7-8 ¾ to claim the gold medal.

“Amazing,” he said.

Erik Kynard of the U.S., one of the three who cleared 7-7 ¾, took the bronze.

• Oluwakemi Adekoya of Bahrain won the women’s 400 in 51.45. And she did it all by herself.

“I am really proud of myself today,” Adekoya said. “Really, really proud. I am the only person to represent my county without a coach here.”

USA’s Ashley Spencer finished close behind in 51.72 to earn silver, and her teammate, Quanera Hayes, won the bronze in 51.76.

• Barbara Pierre of USA won a crowd-pleasing women's 60-meter final in a time of 7.02 seconds. Sifan Hassan of Netherlands won the women's 1,500 in 4:04.96 and Pavel Maslak of Czech Republic won gold in the men's 400 in 45.44.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.TRIBUNE PHOTO: DAVID BLAIR - Pavel Maslak (right) of the Czech Republic wins the 400 meters Saturday night at the IAAF World Indoor in the Oregon Convention Center.