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Morgan Uceny is an athlete competing in track and field at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for the USA. She will contend for a medal in the women's 1500m.

After a dominant season on the Diamond League circuit in 2011, her medal aspirations at the World Championships in Daegu were dashed by an untimely fall. Coming home with the hardware this time is Uceny's prime goal.

With one lap to go in the women's 1500m final at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Uceny took the lead in the race and never looked back. With a 60.14 final lap, Uceny won her second consecutive USA 1500m title in 4:40.59, and locked in her first Olympic team berth.

Two weeks after tripping and falling at the World Championships, arguably the lowest point in her career, Uceny bounced back stronger than ever at the Diamond League Memorial van Damme meeting in Brussels, where she won the 1500m season finale in a personal-best and world-leading 4:00.06, cementing her first Diamond League season title, a $50,000 pay day, and the final No. 1 world ranking for 2011 in the event.

The World Championships 1500m final in Daegu went out tactically, just the style of race Uceny had thrived in all season. As things got bunched with 550 meters to go, inexperienced Kenyan Hellen Obiri tripped and collided with Uceny, knocking her to the track and out of contention. In Uceny's absence, her teammate Jenny Simpson won the first gold by an American since 1983. Uceny picked herself up and finished the race 10th in 4:19.71. "Obviously I was super-disappointed to have had this golden opportunity taken away, which is what it felt like," Uceny said. "The first 24 hours after that were pretty rough"

For the better part of three months in the spring and summer of 2011, Uceny established herself as the top miler on the planet. She won her first national title, taking the 1500m at the USA Outdoor Championships, and posted five podium finishes on the Diamond League circuit, including victories in Lausanne and Birmingham that vaulted her near the top of everyone's list of medal contenders for the World Championships in Daeguuu.



After alternating between the 800m and 1500m during her first three professional seasons, Uceny came to the realization that her better chance for success was in the longer distance. "I knew deep down, I wanted the 1500m," Uceny told Sports Illustrated. "In the 800m, one mistake and you're done. The 800m puts more pressure on you. In the 1500m you have a little more time, I feel more in control. And also, from a training perspective, I was doing better at longer intervals."

With no major international championships on the 2010 calendar, Uceny was able to focus solely on running fast. And she did. At a low-key meet in Switzerland, she lowered her then-personal best in the 800m to 1:58.67, the 10th-fastest time in the world that season. At the Diamond League meet in Lausanne, Uceny dropped her PR in the 1500m to 4:02.40 in a fifth-place finish. She was disappointed in the finish, however, as she was coming off a block of 800m training and should have been faster.

After the 2009 season, Uceny realized that she needed a change of scenery, and decided to move to Mammoth Lakes to begin training with coach Terrence Mahon's group, which also included her good friend and former teammate in Michigan Anna Pierce, herself an Ivy League standout at Brown. "I knew we'd be good training partners and I wanted to take it to the next level, so it seemed like a good fit," Uceny said.

After graduating from Cornell, Uceny decided to explore her options as a professional runner. She signed a three-year contract with Reebok — she still needed to work side jobs as a personal trainer and in a pet store — and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where she worked with coach Mike McGuire. Her season was marked by improvement. She set a personal best indoors in the mile (4:38.87) and turned in solid performances at the Olympic Trials, finishing sixth in the 800m and fourth in the 1500m. After the Trials, Uceny competed extensively on the European circuit, establishing then-PRs of 2:00.01 in the 800m and 4:06.93 in the 1500m.

Uceny's years on the Cornell track team proved to be fruitful, as she captured six Ivy League championships, indoors and outdoors combined, in the 800m. In 2007, she finished sixth in the event at the NCAA Championships and then turned her attention to the USA Outdoor Championships. She finished fourth in the 800m, just missing out on a spot on the U.S. team for the World Championships in Osaka but earning a berth on the U.S. team for the Pan-American Games. "The NCAAs were the focus of my whole season, so I was really relaxed going into nationals," Uceny said. "There really wasn't a lot of pressure."

During Uceny's summers back home from college, running took a backseat to working for her father, carrying bricks, cutting bricks, and shoveling mortar for his masonry crew. "Every day I woke up and geared up for a day of hard work,'" Uceny told Sports Illustrated. "It was hot, and I had to wear pants and it was just really tough work." She would find the time and energy to complete her running workouts in the evening after she was done working.

In high school, Uceny spent her summers playing basketball, and was a point guard at the Plymouth High her junior and senior years. "That's really what I wanted to play in college," she said, "but I was definitely a much better runner." As a senior, Uceny won the Indiana state 800m title in 2:13 and was recruited by several Division 1 schools, including Kentucky and Illinois. But those schools wanted her to run both cross-country and track and Uceny had no love for cross-country. That complicated recruiting process led her to Cornell, an Ivy League school which does not offer athletic scholarships.

Growing up, Uceny was enrolled in the 4H Club by her parents and was charged with tending to seven goats and two steers that were kept on the family's property. The animals were kept for showing in fairs and the steers were slaughtered each year for their meat. Her morning chores including cleaning manure from the animals' stalls. "As I got older, there were times when I would want to go the movies, but I had to stay home and make sure the cows and goats were fed," Uceny told Sports Illustrated. "It was teaching me responsibility, but I hated it." Uceny learned other lessons as well. "Number one, know where your food comes from,'' she said, "and number two, don't get too attached to your pets."

Uceny credits her work ethic from her upbringing in a hard-working, middle-class Indiana family. Her father, Marty, is a former high school wrestler and now owns his own stone masonry business. Her mother, Brenda, was a school bus driver and is now a transportation administrator for the Plymouth school district. Neither went to college but placed an emphasis on education and hard work in raising Uceny and her older brothers, Alex and Matt.



MORGAN UCENY: FACTS

How tall is Morgan Uceny? How old is Morgan Uceny? Where does Morgan Uceny live? Find out here.

Age: 29 years old
Birthday: March 10, 1985
Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 115 lbs.
Birthplace: Plymouth, IN
Current Residence: San Diego, CA





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