— When the finalists for the 3,000-meter steeplechase emerged from under the grandstand at Hayward Field and onto the historic track Thursday at the Olympic trials, Glastonbury's Donn Cabral was hard to miss.
Not because of his flashy shoes or his newly minted Nike jersey, which he was wearing for the first time. No, those were spotted seconds later.
Instead, Cabral grabbed attention for what he wasn't wearing — a jacket or some sort of pull-over.
With the rain steadily coming down in Eugene and the temperature having dropped nearly 10 degrees from the start of the afternoon, Cabral strolled comfortably out onto the track wearing just his singlet and shorts and a cold, intense stare.
Cabral was ready.
This was the moment he had been waiting for, and with less than 10 minutes left before the start of the race, Cabral was savoring every part of it — rain included.
"Cabral is the man," yelled Gonzaga runner Willie Milam from the stands just past the starting line for all to hear.
On Thursday, he continued to prove it in front of a crowd of 22,602.
After running in fourth place for most of the race, Cabral finally made his move with about 300 meters to go and crossed the finish line in second place to earn a trip to London for the 2012 Olympics barely four years after graduating from Glastonbury High School.
Cabral ran 8:19.81 to finish second behind Evan Jager of Oregon Track Club (8:17.40), and he beat Kyle Alcorn of Nike (8.22.17) for silver.
"It was just the coolest thing once I had the final barrier cleared and even the water barrier cleared and I knew it was going to happen," Cabral said in post-race interviews. "It was really cool."
The time was just .67 seconds off Cabral's personal best and nearly 16 seconds faster than the time he ran to win the NCAA Championship earlier this month.
But for Cabral, who ran the American college record back in April for Princeton with a time of 8:19.14, the race wasn't about time. It was about place.
And with four laps to go, Cabral was in fourth place and one spot out of the Olympics.
Still, Cabral didn't flinch. In the final 400 meters, he used the kick he has been working on with Princeton coach Steve Dolan to secure a trip to London.
"That was something I've been waiting for a year and a half for," Cabral said. "All of a sudden, it was just like a giant weight off my shoulders. My fate was set at that point, and I could kind of sit back, finish it strong and enjoy everything that was going on."
Alcorn started to close in on Cabral a bit, but Cabral kicked it into a higher gear on the final straightaway.
For Cabral, the race is the culmination of a long journey. At Glastonbury High School, Cabral was a back-to-back State Open winner, a New England cross country champion and a two-mile record holder in track and field.
Then at Princeton, he added to his legacy even more. Cabral was an All-American in cross country his junior and senior seasons and the NCAA champion in the steeplechase after finishing second two years in a rwo.
After realizing his potential in the steeplechase more than two years ago, Cabral committed to the goal of getting to London. He trained in Park City, Utah, and he pushed his body further than it had ever been in workouts, making sure he was as mentally prepared as possible.
Cabral saw wearing the U.S. colors in London as a realistic objective. And Thursday night, he got his chance as he jogged around the track with the other recently qualified athletes for one grand victory lap.Copyright © 2015, CT Now