LONDON - Lisa (Koll) Uhl saved her best for the biggest stage of all.
The Fort Dodge Senior High graduate clocked a personal-best time of 31:12.80 to place 13th for the United States in the women's 10,000-meter race at the Olympic Games Friday night.
Uhl, a former Iowa State All-American and the NCAA's all-time record holder in the event, finished just behind fellow Americans Amy Hastings (personal-best 31:10.69) and Janet Cherobon-Bawcom (personal-best 31:12.68).
Lisa (Koll)?Uhl runs right behind fellow American Janet Cherobon-Bawcom on Friday night during the women’s 10,000-meter run at the Olympic Games in London.
"It was an amazing experience," Uhl said in an exclusive interview with The Messenger on Friday night. "This entire trip has been unbelievable. I can't even use words to justify how special everything has been.
"I felt great for the majority of the race, but didn't have as fast of a final mile as I had hoped. I am very happy to have set my first personal best in the 10k in over two years, though."
Uhl's previous best time in the event was 31:18.07, which came in 2010 while running for the Cyclones.
"I was aiming to be in the Top-10, and although I fell short of that goal, I feel that I executed my race as planned and I wouldn't change the decisions I made."
Uhl, who graduated from FDSH in 2005, was humbled by the outpouring of support on the local and state front.
"I feel blessed to share this opportunity with my family, friends and fans. I want to send a huge thank you to everyone in Fort Dodge and the state of Iowa for all of their support and encouragement - without it, this dream would never have come true."
Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia pulled away with 600 meters to go and won the 10,000 meters at the London Games on Friday to defend her Olympic title.
Dibaba, who clinched the first women's long-distance Olympic double in Beijing four years ago by winning the 5,000 and 10,000, collected the first track gold of the London Games in 30 minutes, 20.75 seconds.
Kenyans won silver and bronze, with Sally Kipyego finishing second in 30:26.37 and world champion Vivian Cheruiyot placing third in 30:30.44.
Dibaba, who missed the 2011 season with an injury, tucked in behind the leading pack until forcing the pace with three laps to go. The Kenyan pair went with her and Werknesh Kidane until Dibaba kicked again.
"I have never been happier like today," Dibaba said, adding that it was a better feeling than winning at Beijing. "It's very special. I have worked very hard for this. No one has ever done what I did today. I won (back-to-back) 10,000 gold medals and one 5,000."