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Kate Grace takes hard fall at finish of 800 semis, earns spot into finals at US Olympic trials

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Nobody said making the Olympics was easy.

Kate Grace darted to the inside near the finish line, took an accidental elbow and went flying off the track, before slamming into the clock sitting on the infield.

After taking second in her semifinal heat of the 800 meters on Sunday night at the U.S. track trials, Grace stayed down for a moment. When she picked herself up, there were scrapes along her arms, hip and knee. On Monday, she'll find out if all the pain paid off when she races in the final.

“She's a tough cookie,” said Michaela Rose, who delivered the accidental contact and finished 0.03 seconds behind Grace. The heat was won by reigning Olympic 800-meter champion Athing Mu.

Grace may have some abrasions from the track, but no hard feelings. Some contact comes with the territory in the two-lap event.

“Everything was honest,” said the 35-year-old Grace, who avoided hitting her head and felt ready to race in the final Monday. “A lot of us trying to get to the line. If it hadn't been the thing (rail) right there, maybe I wouldn't have fallen but there’s just a ton of stuff right there on the infield. So you kind of have nowhere to go.”

Rose said she had no inkling that Grace, who made the U.S. team for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, was charging hard on her left.

They had a brief conversation after the race.

“She seemed fine,” said Rose, who goes to LSU. “She’s like, ‘Good job. I hope you make the final.'”

Rose did, earning a spot into the final based on her time. Rose had the perfect game plan, too, jumping out to a huge lead. She ran out of steam along the home stretch as Mu and Grace began to accelerate. The crowd let Rose know what was going on.

“I know she’s a crowd favorite,” Rose said of Mu. “So when I heard them cheering, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re coming. They’re coming on me.’ So I just tried to dig deep.”

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

Pat Graham, The Associated Press