Rachel Schneider did not advance to the final of the Olympic women’s 5,000 meters on the opening day of track and field competition in Tokyo, finishing a half-second shy of qualifying based on time.

Competing in her first Olympic Games, Schneider, 30, finished seventh in the second semifinal with a time of 15 minutes, 0.07 seconds at Tokyo Olympic Stadium. The top five finishers in both heats, plus the women with the next five fastest times over both semifinals, qualified for Monday’s final, which will be run at 6:40 a.m. Eastern time.

The five runners who made it in on time all came from the first heat, with the final spot going to Andrea Seccafien of Canada with a time of 14:59.55. Overall, Schneider was 17th among the 38 runners.

“I didn’t realize I was that close to making it in on time until after I saw the results,” Schneider wrote in an email. “It’s heartbreaking to be so close, but I know I gave it my all and there’s not much I would have done differently in that section. Missing out (and sometimes making it) by fractions of a second is just a brutal (and beautiful) part of the sport.”

Schneider’s U.S. teammates, Olympic trials winner Elise Cranny and runner-up Karissa Schweizer, did make the final. Cranny finished fourth in the second heat, running with Schneider for most of the race and then staying with the lead group over the final 600 meters as Schneider fell just off the pace. Schweizer was seventh in the first heat and advanced on time with a season-best run of 14:51.34.

Schneider qualified for her first Olympic team by placing third at the Olympic trials in June in Eugene, Oregon, closely behind Cranny and Schweizer, a pair of 25-year-olds who train together with the Bowerman Track Club in Oregon.


A high school standout at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover, New Hampshire, Schneider was a seven-time All-American at Georgetown University before turning pro in 2014. She narrowly missed making the U.S. team for the 2015 world championships and failed to reach the final in the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials. She did compete in the 2019 world championships, placing 19th in the 5,000.

The first heat was won by Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands in a time of 14:47.89, with 10 runners finishing under 15 minutes and the top eight all under 14:54. That put Schneider in a position of likely needing to run close to her personal-best time of 14:52.04.

Competing on an evening when temperatures were in the mid-80s with high humidity, Schneider tucked into second place for the first few laps, then was between fifth and seventh for several laps in the middle of the race, which was at a slower pace than the first heat.

“My plan regardless of what paces the heats ran was to put myself up towards the front, run as relaxed as possible, cover all the moves, and finish hard,” Schneider wrote. “I did exactly that and am proud of the race I ran. Unfortunately that ended up being seventh in my heat and just a fraction of a second off from making the final.”

Schneider was still in position to make the final with about 600 meters to go. Then, 2017 and 2019 world champion Hellen Obiri of Kenya (second, 14:55.77) and heat winner Guduf Tsegay of Ethiopia (14:55.74), the fastest woman in the world this season, began to pick up the tempo. Cranny ran past Schneider to stick with the leaders while Schneider slipped to eighth as the final lap began. With 200 meters to go, Schneider had lost contact with the top six runners, which included Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, the 2016 silver medalist at 800 meters. Niyonsaba finished fourth, just ahead of Cranny, but was disqualified shortly after the race for running inside the first lane.

Over the final 100 meters, Schneider tried but was unable to get past Japan’s Nozomi Tanaka to move up one additional spot. Tanaka finished in 14:59.93, 16th overall.

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