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Cal Grad Alysia Montano Doesn't Medal

Alysia Montano always has a flower in her hair and a spring in her step.

By Liza Meak and Lori Preuitt
|  Saturday, Aug 11, 2012  |  Updated 3:49 PM PDT
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Cal Grad Alysia Montano Will Run Olympic 800m

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Alysia Montano always wears a flower in her hair. It is her signature.

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Cal Grad Alysia Montano Will Run Olympic 800m

Cal grad will run the 800-meter at the London Games.
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On the final weekend of the London Olympics UC Berkeley graduate Alysia Montano failed to medal in the 800-meter final.

Mariya Savinova of Russia took the gold. Montano came in 5th.

Montano lead the field in the first lap, but lost steam in the final stretch. The opposite happened for silver medal winner Caster Semenya of South Africa. She was last with 250 meters to go, but had a  strong finish that kicked her to second place. Semenya is the athlete who was forced to undergo gender tests.

Savinova finished the race in a season's-best 1:56.19, beating Semenya by 1.04 seconds.

Russia also took the bronze with Ekaterina Poistogova.

Back to Montano and her Bay Area ties:

The road to the London Olympic Games for the UC Berkeley graduate took a medical detour in 2008. She was considered a shoe-in for the Bejing games before a broken foot nearly broke her Olympic dreams.

But at that level, athletes can't give up. And Montano didn't.

"I had a couple of doctors telling me I wasn't going to run again at the elite level, but I just left them behind and found other ones," Montano said.

The 26-year-old healed from her injury, and soon become the fastest woman in the 800-meter run in 2010.

Montano also finds strength and beauty in what has now become a staple in her hair. A flower. "It was my symbol of strength in femininity and not losing that part of me," Montano said.

Montano talks about qualifying for the women's 800m in London, and about the strength she draws from the ever-present hair decoration.  Watch that video here.

Montano's team also includes her husband of a little more than a year, Louis Montano. The two met in junior high in Santa Clarita and kept in touch as friends through college. A couple of years ago, that friendship turned into a romance. They now live in Canyon Country in Southern California.

"This sport at the end of the day can be very lonely," Alysia Montano said. "You become introverted in what you are doing, that the balance on the other side is very important. Louis really brings that balance for me."

To see uncut video of Alysia Montano talk about how she began running at an early age, click here:

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