RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - UC Davis alum Kim Conley was among the leaders for most of her heat of the 5,000-meter run at Olympic Stadium at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday morning before eventually finishing 12th in her race and coming up short in her bid to reach Friday's final.
Conley, who was a standout runner for the Aggies' cross country and track & field teams before graduating in 2009 and eventually becoming an assistant coach with the program, was timed in 15:36.00. She finished 23rd overall.
"Competing on the Olympic stage represents a milestone achievement in and of itself, and the goal for Kim's return to this level was to compete in the final round," said former UC Davis head track coach Drew Wartenburg, who also serves as her current coach. "The desired outcome did not play out today, but Kim remains aware of both the honor and privilege that comes with representing Team USA, New Balance and UC Davis Track & Field. Kim has exciting opportunities awaiting, and after digesting this experience we will remain forward focused for what's ahead."
The two-time Olympian remained with the pack for most of her race as it chased Miyuki Uehara who raced to a big lead early. Uehara held the lead through the first 3,000 meters before being reeled in by the field. Yasemin Can (15:19.50) of Turkey took over the lead at the 4k mark before being edged by winner Hellen Onsando Obiri of Kenya (15:19.38).
The top five finishers all finished within less than a second of each other and automatically qualified for the final. Three others, including Uehara, qualified from the first heat by having one of the next five fastest times among the two heats overall.
For Conley, her race brought to an end her appearance in the Olympics but was another incredible achievement which added to her presence on the international stage. She was an amazing qualifier for the 2012 London Games when her stirring third-place finish in the U.S. Olympic Trials - after coming back from a huge last-lap deficit - was one of the event's noted highlights.
Qualifying for the IAAF World Championships and winning a national championship in the 10,000 a year ago are among her other many highlights as one of the country's elite distance runners.