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She used words like “awesome” and “happy” and said her “dreams have come true.”


Not exactly what you’d expect to hear from someone who placed fourth at a world championship track and field meet — and thus came oh-so-close to leaving with a coveted medal.

“I know, I know, usually placing fourth just means you’re the first loser,” Laura Roesler said, laughing. “But I’m really proud to say I made a final in a world championship meet.”

Roesler, who competed for the University of Oregon from 2010-14, spent most of 2015 recuperating from a partially torn right Achilles tendon.

“Last year, I was sitting on the couch watching the world champs outdoor,” Roesler said. “It was like, ‘Oh, I can do that. I can be there, and now I am.’”

That perspective had Roesler appreciating each moment of the four-day IAAF World Indoor that concluded Sunday at the Oregon Convention Center.

Roesler, who won an NCAA outdoors title in the 800 in 2014 with the Ducks, placed fourth in Sunday’s women’s 800 final in 2:00.80.

As Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi (gold, 2:00.01), Ajee Wilson of USA (silver, 2:00.27) and Margaret Nyairera Wambui of USA (bronze, 2:00.44) celebrated their respective medals, Roesler reveled in her turnaround tale.

“I think I’m a little bit of a comeback story and now it’s turned into a story of motivation,” Roesler said. “I can’t wait for the outdoor season. I don’t want to be the first loser next time.”

Roesler didn’t feel like at all like a loser on Sunday as she reflected on her past year of rehabilitation from injury.

“I know fourth is the spot that nobody wants to be, but I really can’t say I’m on the verge of tears or disappointed,” Roesler said. “After the year I had last year, making this final, all my dreams have come true.”

• The lone female to win an individual gold medal for Team USA on Sunday was 18-year-old high school phenom Vashti Cunningham.

After earning a wild-card entry into the world indoor meet, Cunningham proved her worth with a world championship performance in the high jump.

Cunningham, whose father and coach is former NFL star quarterback Randall Cunningham, became the youngest American to ever win a medal at the world indoors, clearing 6-5 and taking the gold on fewer misses.

It wasn’t the height she was shooting for after winning the USATF national crown a week earlier at 6-6 1/4, but she found it tough to feel disappointed with a gold medal.

“I’m excited on the inside, keeping it calm on the outside,” said Cunningham, who said she “probably” will turn professional this week. “It means a lot to be a world champion this young. … I did not think I would be here right now at 18 years old.”

Cunningham is headed back to her hometown of Las Vegas to finish her senior year of high school, enjoy the senior prom and then turn her focus to the Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene.

“My dad is coming up with a schedule for me for the summer,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully I’ll make the (Olympic) team.”

• Shannon Rowbury, who lives in Beaverton and trains at Nike, also has Olympic aspirations in the distance races. Rowbury elected not to run the 1,500 in the indoor championship meet and focused on the 3,000.

Rowbury’s decision paid off Sunday, when she earned the bronze medal with a third-place time of 8:55.55. Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia won gold in 8:47.43.

The bronze marked the first world medal Rowbury has earned since 2009.

“I’ve had good races and been performing well, but you only get so many opportunities at a championship and you get this once-in-a-lifetime (opportunity) to have worlds at home,” Rowbury said. “So I really just wanted to take advantage of that.”

• The United States women also picked up a gold medal from the 4x400 relay team Sunday. The foursome of Natasha Hastings, Quanera Hayes, Courtney Okolo and Ashley Spencer ran a world-leading 3:26.38 in the final.

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