Brian Sell returned from the Beijing Olympics thrilled with the experience and happy about his performance in the marathon.
''I can't complain about being 22nd in the world,'' Sell said, ''but my goal was top 20.''
Sell ran the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 16 minutes and 7 seconds, slower than his goal of 2 hours, 12 minutes.
''I felt like I went out at the pace I wanted to but sort of hit the wall at 20 miles,'' the 30-year-old Woodbury native said. ''I dropped my focus for a minute or two and lost the group I was running with, most of whom went on to run 2:13, 2:14.''
The marathon was won in blistering pace by Kenya's Samuel Wansiru, who obliterated the Olympic record by nearly three minutes with a time of 2:06:32.
Sell said the pace of the frontrunners ''didn't affect me at all.''
''I knew the Africans would go out hard and most would die off, but I didn't think that the winner would run 2:06,'' Sell said. ''I thought - and my coaches thought - that a 2:10 or so would win, and if I ran a 2:12 I would be in the hunt for a medal.''
There were concerns about several components of Beijing hosting the Games, including the country's history of humanitarian problems and poor environment. Sell, however, had no complaints about his time in China.
''It was great,'' he said. ''Beijing did a great job, and none of the worries going in came to pass. The air was clean, the food was good and the weather and race course were fine.
''I wish I could have represented the U.S. better, but I did the best I could at the time.''
Cory Giger is at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.