Chumbawamba, in all its corniness, captures Bailey Roth’s experience at the USA Outdoor Junior Championships quite nicely.
As the band said in its late-’90s hit, still overplayed at sporting events across the country to this day, “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”
Roth was knocked down — or he fell — in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in Eugene, Oregon, on July 6. But he, well, got back up and still came out on top, garnering a first-place finish in the event. Now he’ll compete at the IAAF World Junior Championships, which take place July 22-27 in Eugene.
Here’s what happened to Roth, an incoming UA freshman for the Wildcats track and field team:
By the turn of the fifth lap, he had amassed a 25- to 30-meter lead. Then he hit one of the barriers and fell down, but he got up quickly. His recovery, and eventual win, surprised even himself.
Roth trailed with about 250 meters remaining before rallying.
“Coming around the last barrier, I started catching up to him,” Roth said. “And by the time we were on the home stretch, we were pretty much even, so the last barrier is where I kind of made my move, and got that last kick to get into first.”
He finished with a time of 9 minutes 3.92 seconds.
“We are ecstatic. He was so composed the whole race,” UA head coach Fred Harvey said. “Am I excited about a guy like that? Yeah, I definitely am.”
Roth, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, wanted a better time but won’t complain about a first-place finish.
“With the circumstances of the race, it was definitely a relief to win,” Roth said. “It definitely wasn’t the ideal race for me, but it was still great. At the end of the day me and my coach talked, and he asked how I felt about it. I was actually pretty happy. I didn’t get the time I wanted, but I still came out with the win.”
It’s certainly not the first time he’s won a race in impressive fashion, either.
In June, Roth broke a 23-year-old national high school record at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor 2014 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Monday, the Star spoke with Roth about what’s to come as he begins his career as a Wildcat.
On what was going through his head after he fell: “Well, going on the ground, I had to totally change my game from time to just getting though the standard, so I could make the team. I started getting really tired and was thinking, ‘Man, I hope you guys don’t catch me.’ ”
On if he was surprised at how he was able to recover: “Yeah, I was surprised. I asked my coach how I was able to come back like that with the kick when I was so tired, and he was saying he felt confident because from the training that we’d been doing, this is when it really applies, when I needed it the most and he was just happy that it came though.”
On why he chose the UA, and if other schools were in contention: “I think definitely the climate all year is good for training. In Colorado it snows. Being that I can train all year long is pretty exciting, and I think that honestly the weather and Coach (James) Li were huge. And there wasn’t one thing I didn’t like on my visit. …
“When I visited, my host was Lawi (Lalang) and he really represented the school well and got me excited for training with Coach Li and it’s just, I look up to him a lot and with him being comfy with Coach Li, it makes me feel even better about my decision. … It came down to the U of A and Oklahoma.”