Bernard Lagat wins men's 5,000-meter final at U.S. Olympic trials

EUGENE, Ore. --  A few more kids are on their way to Brazil after Saturday's racing at the U.S. Track and Field Trials.

In this case, they are 41-year-old Bernard Lagat's son and daughter, Miika and Gianna.

The American record-holder flipped the script on a youth-filled trials Saturday, running his final lap of the 5,000 meters in 52 seconds to charge from sixth to first and earn his fifth, and most surprising, trip to the Olympics.

Lagat, who won in 13 minutes, 35.50 seconds, will have his wife, Gladys, and kids in tow on the way to Rio.

Joining them there will be 34-year-old Justin Gatlin, who won the 200-meter final to advance to his third Olympics. He held off LaShawn Merritt and two high schoolers, Michael Norman and Noah Lyles, who stood as the latest examples of the growing youth movement in American track.

Already, there are three 20-and-under track-and-field athletes heading to Rio -- Vashti Cunningham, Keturah Orji and Trayvon Bromell -- with 16-year-old Sydney McLaughlin trying for a 400-hurdles spot Sunday.

But some of these old guys can run, too. And Lagat was determined to show he's not near finished.

"They were saying I'm done and cannot make the team," he said. "That didn't sound right to me."

That talk picked up last year, when the Kenyan-born runner missed his first worlds or Olympics team since he became an American citizen in 2005 -- a failure he said "crushed him," in large part because his kids were pushing hard for him to make the trip. The murmurs came back after he dropped out of the 5,000 earlier this season at the Prefontaine Classic and only got louder when he pulled out of the 10K earlier in trials.

Turns out, Lagat has plenty of gas in the tank.

"We know Bernard Lagat will be done," said third-place finisher Paul Chelimo, "when he's not running anymore."

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Bernard Lagat, 41, finished the 5,000 meters in 13 minutes, 35.50 seconds to earn a spot in his fifth Olympic Games.

Galen Rupp, who pulled into a wide lead with two laps to go, fell behind during the final lap and finished ninth overall. He had previously qualified for Rio in the 10,000 meters and the marathon.

The 200-meter final turned into quite a showdown along the stretch, with Gatlin finishing in 19.75 seconds and edging Merritt -- the 400-meter specialist who's pretty good at 200, too -- by a mere .04 seconds. 

"I said, 'You know what, if Lagat had the guts to go out there and do what he needs to do at his age, I can go out there and do what I need to do, especially from Lane 8,' " Gatlin said.

Like Merritt, Allyson Felix remains in the mix for the 200-400 double; she made it easily through her semifinal round. Like Merritt, Felix turned 30 in the past year. And like Merritt, she is an expert at pacing herself through the rounds in multiple races.

"Experience means a lot," Merritt said. "It's being comfortable once you get out there. Being able to use the nerves as positive energy. And knowing you've been there before and know how to handle it, it gives you a chip on your shoulder."

Lagat certainly had one.

Along with another incentive.

"My daughter said, 'I want you to win,' " Lagat said, " 'so I can go see gymnastics.' "

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. 

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