OLYMPIC SPOTLIGHT: Alistair Cragg
Event: 1,500 Meters, 5,000 Meters
Date: 1,500M Prelims – Friday, August 15; 1,500M Semifinals – Sunday, August 17; 1,500M Finals – Tuesday, August 19; 5,000M Final – Saturday, August 23
Former Arkansas Razorback distance star Alistair Cragg will attempt to become the 21st Irish Summer Olympic medalist in history when he takes to the track next week in Beijing for the Olympic Games.
Cragg, who is a native of South Africa but competes for Ireland after changing his citizenship to that country in 2002, is slated to compete in the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter competitions. He will be looking for his first Olympic medal.
While at the University of Arkansas, Cragg took full advantage of the situation in which he found himself. A seven-time NCAA champion and nine-time SEC Champion in events ranging from 1,500 meters to 10,000 meters, Cragg had what many have deemed one of the best collegiate careers ever. He earned 13 All-America accolades as a Razorback and was twice named SEC Male Athlete of the Year.
In 2004, Cragg burst onto the international scene as a professional, capturing gold at 1,500 meters in the Irish National Championships. He went on to compete in the Olympics as a representative of Ireland where he advanced to the finals at 5,000 meters and finished 12th.
The 2005 season saw Cragg win gold at 3,000 meters at the European Indoor Championships but he was forced to watch most of the outdoor season, including the IAAF World Championships, from the sidelines due to an injury.
After recovering, he went on to place fourth in the 3,000 meters at the 2006 World Indoor Championships in Moscow. He was highly favored to earn a medal at 5,000 meters later that year at the European Championships but failed to finish the race due to an injury.
He wasted no time getting back to what he does best. Cragg reached Olympic qualifying standards at 1,500M, 5,000M and 10,000 meters early in 2007, breaking the Irish national record at 10,000 meters. That performance made Cragg the national record-holder in all three of the aforementioned events.
Cragg wooed a crowd of over 4,000 at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 15 as he ran away with the 5,000 meters, running 13.32.01, the best indoor time of 2008. He has run outdoor times of 3.39.12 (1,500 meters) and 13.16.12 (5,000 meters) so far in 2008.
Cragg will compete in the opening round of the 1,500 meters Friday, Aug. 15 and in the 5,000 meters Wednesday, Aug. 20. For complete results and details of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, visit http://www.iaaf.org/OLY08/index.html. For more information on the Razorbacks in Beijing, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Career Highlights: 13-time All-American and seven-time NCAA Champion; captured consecutive NCAA indoor 3,000 (2003-04) and 5,000 meter (2002-04) titles; won the 2003 NCAA outdoor 5,000 meter title and 2004 NCAA 10,000 meter crown; a nine-time SEC Champion—in 2004, he claimed the conference’s indoor 3,000 meter and 5,000 meter titles and the outdoor 1,500M, 5,000M and 10,000M runs; in 2003, he won the indoor mile and 3,000 meters and outdoor 5,000M and 10,000M; was a two-time SEC Male Athlete of the Year.