Richard Peters made a brave but ultimately vain bid to win the US Collegiate mile title for the first time when the NCAA championships were staged at altitude in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The 23 year old Bristol and West runner, who is a senior student at Boston University, won his qualifying heat impressively and went into the final as one of the leading contenders. Even so he was only ranked fifth, with the finalists headed by the US Collegiate mile record holder Lawi Lalang, who set his mark of 3:52.88 last month, fellow Kenyan Anthony Rotich and NCAA cross-country champion Mac Fleet.
The anticipation of a tactical race due to the altitude effect was blown apart by the hot favourite Lalang blazing away from the gun in a bid to run the opposition ragged. Determined to make his presence felt Rich threw caution to the thin air and tracked Lalang from the off, providing the meat in the sandwich for the two Kenyans. Together the three of them pulled well away from the rest of the field headed by Fleet, and despite the over ambitious early pace in the conditions Rich was still on Lalang’s heels at the bell. He was in a perfect position to strike, but when the Kenyan pair launched their finishing kicks Peters had no answer as the early pace took its toll. He fought desperately to hold on and still finished less than a second behind the winner Rotich, but was cruelly robbed of the bronze medal almost on the line by the fast-finishing Fleet
“When I tried to kick on the last lap, my legs just seemed to freeze. It must have been due to the effects of the altitude as I have never raced at this height before,” said a disconsolate Peters. “I am really gutted since I feel as if I am in the shape of my life. Perhaps I should have respected the conditions more and been more cautious early on, but I really thought I could win it.”
Rich must now put the disappointment behind him and prepare for the outdoor season when his main target is a place in England’s Commonwealth Games team.