Olympics: Utah duo ready to compete in track and field
Track and field • Skyline grad Shalaya Kipp, SUU runner Cam Levins have high hopes.
Published: August 2, 2012 11:25PM
Updated: August 3, 2012 07:11PM
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Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune Southern Utah University senior Cam Levins poses for a portrait Tuesday May 29, 2012. Levins is an aspiring Olympic runner for Canada.

London • She has tried the meat pies, side-tripped to Ireland, raced a mile tune-up, and met up with her parents.

Now, Shalaya Kipp is ready to run.

The 21-year-old Skyline High School graduate from Salt Lake City is one of two Utahns whose experience at the London Olympics begins with the opening of the track and field competition this weekend. The other is Cam Levins, the recent Southern Utah University graduate competing for Canada.

Both runners will race on Saturday, the day after the track events begin, and Kipp said she’s ready to go.

“I am ready,” she said in an interview Thursday at a jam-packed shopping mall adjacent to the athletes village and the Olympic Park. “I feel like my fitness is there, and I’m kind of getting hungry to race again. That’s always good.”

Kipp will race a semifinal of the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in the morning, while Levins races the final of the men’s 10,000 in the evening. Levins owned the best time in the world at that distance early in the spring at 27 minutes and 27.96 seconds, but has watched a predictable wave of East Africans — including the incomparable Kenenisa Beele of Ethiopia — eclipse it in the months since.

The 23-year-old Levins arrived in London only on Wednesday, according to Canadian officials, after spending most of the Olympics so far at a training camp in Germany. The record-setting former Thunderbird who shocked the track world with his sudden emergence this year also plans to run the 5,000 meters next week.

Meanwhile, Kipp is here with her good friend and college teammate at Colorado, reigning national steeplechase champion Emma Coburn. The two have enjoyed some sight-seeing and culinary experimentation around the city — “try a meat pie when you’re in Great Britain,” she said — and Kipp traveled to a meet in Dublin last week to run the mile in a tune-up race.

“I’m not a miler,” she said, jokingly shaking her head.

Still, she ran a personal-best 4:40, some 21 seconds faster than her best high school time at Skyline. “It wasn’t great for me,” she said, “but it still was a PR. It was good to get the legs back into racing shape.”

Good thing, too.

She’s gonna need ’em.

Kipp has fairly modest goals here, hoping to simply reach the final and improve her personal-best time of 9:35.73 barely two years after running the steeplechase for the first time. She can achieve both if she can stay in the mix, but the fastest women — including defending champion Guinara Galkina of Russia — all are capable of running close to 9 minutes.

“It’s kind of exciting to know that, in four years from now, I could be doing a lot, lot better,” Kipp said, “and coming to the Olympics with a whole different goal in mind.”

mcl@sltrib.com

Twitter: @MCLTribune