Carson, California, USA "Kerron finally ran his race!" shouted an exultant meet director, as Kerron Clement swept down the homestretch to win the 400m Hurdles in 47.24 at the USATF championships this afternoon (Sun 26) .
Clement opens fast
What Clement did was stay up with the pace for the first half of the race instead of lagging behind for most of the race and then coming with a rush in the final 100 metres. His reward was the fastest time in the world since 1998, and a jump to number 7 on the world all-time list.
Clement, who won't be 20 until 31 October, came into the homestretch within reach of Bennie Brazell and James Carter in the middle of the track and Bershawn Jackson in lane one. He passed Brazell and Carter at the ninth hurdle and Jackson just before the tenth, and then cantered away until easing visibly in the closing metres - a habit that drives statisticians crazy.
Still, he won by five metres over his chief American rival, Jackson, who had run a sloppy semifinal and drew the dreaded inside lane, yet managed 47.80. Behind him, Carter edged Brazell for the third spot on the U.S. team for Helsinki, 48.03 to 48.09.
Clement said, "I was confident I could go under my PB (47.56 – 11 June 2005). I charged every hurdle today. That's what I have to do to win every race."
Jackson said, "Lane One is tough to run in. I worked hard to stay in the race and thank God I made it."
Crawford is not fooling around
The other major men's race was the 200-metre final - with four sub-20-second men looking for three places on the U.S. team.In the semifinals, Shawn Crawford, leading with 10m to go, eased up so abruptly that he finished fourth. Luckily, he drew lane 9 in the final (it could have been lane 1, very tough for a sprinter).
Crawford didn't fool around in the final, but he still didn't have an easy time of it. He ran the turn hard and was slightly ahead of Tyson Gay and Wallace Spearmon. But Justin Gatlin charged up from fourth to edge Gay, 20.04 to 20.06 (wind -0.9), and faded Spearmon slightly more than Crawford, giving the Olympic champion a shot at winning the Worlds.
Felix is supreme
The women's 200 was totally dominated by Allyson Felix, who came off the turn in fifth place by strode placidly down the straight to win in a quick 22.13. Rachelle Smith (nee Boone) was a metre back in second (22.22) and LaTasha Colander another metre behind in 22.34.
Felix said, "Sub-22 is definitely the plan at Worlds. My trainings have been focused on strength on a 400m base. We haven't gotten to the speed work yet."
Perry beats Hayes by a metre
In the women's 100-metre hurdles, Michelle Perry continued to beat her training partner, Olympic champion Joanna Hayes. This time she won by a metre, 12,66 to 12.77, with NCAA champion Virginia Powell third in 12.87.
Khadevis Robinson raced to the front of the men's 800 from the gun, went through 400m in just over 50 seconds, and won by more than 10 metres from David Krummenaker in 1:45.27. "I ran the way my coach always ran," said Robinson, referring to perennial front-runner Johnny Gray, still the U.S. record holder at 1:42.60.
Hazel Clark won her second national championship, also pretty much from the and also easily, finishing in 1:59.74 to runner-up Kameisha Bennett's 2:00.59. It was the fifteen national championship won bya member of the Clark family since 1985. Hazel's sister-in law, 38-year-old Jearl Miles-Clark, who contributed eight of them, scratched from the final without explanation.
Cantwell – 21.64m
The men's shot put was effectively over when Christian Cantwell's third put hit went 21.64 - although Adam Nelson came close with a fifth-round effort of 21.52. John Godina, favoring an injury, took third with 20.99.
Cantwell, who finished fourth in last year's Olympic Trials, said, "I'm grateful to make the team." Actually, he added, "In training I've been throwing much better.
Elizabeth Jackson, who was the U.S. 3000m steeplechase champion in 1999 and 2002 before severe injuries to her right knee and hip, sidelined her for 2003, took charge half way through the race and held off late charges by Lisa Galaviz and Carrie Messner to win, 9:39.78 to 9:40.58 to 9:41.37 - all three comfortably under the Helsinki "A" standard of 9:50.
Close fought Heptathlon
And finally,, the Heptathlon was a close two-woman race between Hyleas Fountain, who stayed close enough to Gigi Miller in the closing 800 metres to make a slim lead hold up, 6200 to 6192.
James Dunaway for the IAAF
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