There were 80,000 people roaring inside London's Olympic Stadium Friday night, but Nate Brannen says he didn't hear them.
Cambridge-raised Brannen cruises to 1,500m semifinal.
LONDON -- Nathan Brannen, #4, qualifies for the next round of the 1500 metres during the athletic events at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London. August 3, 2012
The Cambridge-raised runner was just focused on one thing: Get past this heat. He did that, and made it look easy, qualifying for the semifinals with a time of 3:39.79 in the men's 1,500-metre race.
Brannen, with his mind set on finishing in the top six in his heat, was battling for third place in the last turn of the 15-man race, but took his foot off the gas in the final 100 metres once he realized he would advance.
He ran in the second 1,500-metre heat of the night, a race that started out wide open, but quickly became tightly bunched up with runners' elbows flaring.
But despite the jockeying, Brannen was able to avoid getting boxed in and worked his way to the front of the pack.
"I'm happy, I felt confident the whole way. I ran like I'm a finalist," he said, afterward. "I tried to move a bit, then relaxed to save some for the semi."
Brannen, the former Preston High School track star who ran in the 2008 Olympics, has waited a long time to feel this good. After moving his winter training to Arizona full-time, his fitness is the best it's ever been, after years sidetracked by nagging injuries, he said.
"I felt incredible because my fitness is good," he said.
"I haven't missed a day of running this year. That's my first time since my freshman year."
He's here in London with one goal - getting to an Olympic final - after he missed the final in Beijing four years ago following a string of sleepless nights.
Brannen now runs in Sunday's semifinal, in the second heat. Those races are set to start at 3:15 p.m. EDT. The top 12 runners from those races will advance to the final on Tuesday.
-- Torstar News Services