June 27, 2012
• Canadian Olympic Trials Results
MADISON, Wis. -- Winning a national championship would rarely be considered a formality.
Even though the result was largely a forgone conclusion for Mohammed Ahmed on Wednesday, that formality meant a formal invitation to the Olympic Games.
The University of Wisconsin junior made his final step to London by winning the national championship in the 10,000 meters at the 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials in Calgary. Ahmed won comfortably in a time of 30 minutes, 49.13 seconds to officially earn a spot on the Canadian national team for the upcoming Olympics in London.
“It’s taken awhile for me to soak it in,” Ahmed said of qualifying for the Games. “Running in the NCAA season, I didn’t have the opportunity to sit down and try to make the idea that I’m an Olympian feel normal.
“The last three weeks, I’ve tried to soak it in and make it feel normal.”
The bigger hurdle for Ahmed was achieving the time standard necessary to qualify for the Games, which he cleared with his time of 27:34.64 at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in April.
Wednesday, he checked off the final piece required to make Team Canada by scoring a top-three finish at the trials. In winning the race, Ahmed joined former Badger Simon Bairu as a Canadian national champion. When he competes in London, Ahmed also will be the second UW athlete to represent Canada at the Olympics, joining 1984 qualifier Bruce Roberts.
“I just told myself, to make the team, I just need to be in the top thee,” Ahmed said. “Without the ‘A’ standard I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go,
“I knew all I needed was top three. I just wanted to jog it and take it easy.”
And that’s what Ahmed did. His margin of victory was 1 minute, 18 seconds. Not that Calgary’s 3,500-foot elevation or the gusting winds made it easy, however.
“I’ve never been at altitude and I was breathing hard,” Ahmed said. “And it was windy. It wasn’t easy at all.”
The performance came on the heels of Ahmed’s seventh-place finish and All-America effort in the 5000 meters at the NCAA outdoor championships earlier this month. His training for that event was limited by a lingering injury, which Ahmed says he’s now shaken completely.
“After NCAAs, with the fact that I’d been injured and not really training, I felt fresh. I wasn’t burnt out yet,” Ahmed said. “I started training hard with a lot of volume the last couple of weeks.
“This is definitely an opportunity to train through it.”
Ahmed becomes the 15th Olympian in the history of the Wisconsin men’s track and field program and will join former Badger Matt Tegenkamp, who will compete for the U.S., in the 10,000 meters in London. The duo will be the first-ever pair of Badgers to compete in the same track event at the Olympics.
Only once has UW boasted a pair of qualifiers in men's track events at the same Olympics, when Roberts and Steve Lacy both competed in Los Angeles.
Ahmed will stay in Calgary through the weekend to take part in Athletics Canada’s official introduction of its Olympic team on Sunday. Then it’s back to Madison to continue training before he departs for London in late June.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet," Ahmed said. "I feel like I'm dreaming."