Mary Cain showed veteran savvy to notch the biggest international victory of her young career, sprinting past two Kenyans to win the 3000m at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Ore., on Thursday night.
Cain, 18 and the youngest American to make a senior World Championships team last summer, appeared boxed in with 200m to go but found an opening with about 120m left and sprinted to win in a personal best 8 minutes, 58.48 seconds. She won by 2.05 seconds.
“That was just such an amazing finish,” Cain told reporters while holding a fun size Twix bar. “That last 50 [meters], I just felt so good. I know you’re not really supposed to look up at the screen, but I was still looking up like, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope I’m in the lead.’ That last 50 was amazing with the crowd. There was nowhere else that they would have been that loud for me.”
Cain, a professional with the Nike Oregon Project, is the home headliner of the meet, evidenced by roars from an announced crowd of 8,112 at Hayward Field.
The recent Bronxville, N.Y., high school graduate overcame a physical race to better her winning time from the U.S. Junior Championships by 17 seconds.
“There was a lot of jostling,” Cain said, according to The Associated Press. “I know I’m supposed to keep running, but I kept saying, ‘I’m sorry!'”
Cain, who is entering her freshman year in the University of Portland honors program, has said she will race on the Diamond League circuit later when it picks up again in August.