Hyleas Fountain showed no loss of momentum on the second day (28) of the US Olympic Trials Heptathlon, as she registered two more personal bests (for a total of five during the seven-event competition) and ended with a world season leading 6667 points score to win the Olympic Trials title. It was the third national title for the 27-year-old Fountain.
The competition is part of the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge 2008.
Charging forward from the very first moment, the first day leader leaped a personal best 6.88m on her first attempt in the Long Jump, her fourth career topper in five events, surpassing her previous best of 6.67.
The 1132 garnered from this event pushed Fountain’s total to 5121 points and extended her lead to 413 over Jacquelyn Johnson, who jumped 6.45, an outdoor PB, to produce a 4708 five-event tally.
With jumps of 6.42 and 6.24, respectively, Gi-Gi Johnson and Diana Pickler moved into a tight race for the third spot as Pickler held a 22-point advantage, 4674 to 4652.
Fountain’s juggernaut continued into the Javelin Throw, where her first effort produced yet another personal best of 48.15m, up from the 46.90 she recorded in Götzis in 2005. Fountain was fortunate to be in the first section of the Javelin, which allowed her extra recovery time for the concluding 800 metres in the extremely warm conditions which reached 36C during the middle of the afternoon.
Jacquelyn Johnson’s 47.71 added a few more points to Fountain’s advantage, as the two front-runners ended the sixth event 421 points apart, 5945 to 5524.
The race for the final Olympic spot remained tight, as Pickler’s 42.40 gave her an aggregate 5387 and kept her 20 points ahead of Gi-Gi Johnson who threw 42.46.
One could forgive Fountain for relaxing during the 800 metres at the end of two long days. With the temperature still at 36C, despite an increasing cloud cover, she just played it safe, crossing the finish line last with a 2:27.69 to capture her first Olympic team spot. Her final total of 6667, a personal best by 165 points, is the best in the world for this season.
Jacquelyn Johnson easily held on to second with a 2:20.07 and ended her two days of work with a PB 6347. The close race for the third position was won by Pickler with a narrow ten-point margin. Both Pickler and Gi-Gi Johnson were running together for much of the two laps, and at the end Johnson sprinted ahead, attempting to create the needed gap between herself and Pickler. But Pickler had some life left, too, and Johnson was only able to cut the 20-point deficit by half. Pickler, whose twin sister Julie also competed in this event, ended in third with a PB 6257 while Johnson’s 6247 placed fourth.
“This was the meet of my life,” said Fountain later. “I'd never have guessed to have the highest score in the world. It's amazing. I had to calm myself down after each event because I get really excited. I just sat down and tried to rethink each event. I took each one for what it's worth."
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
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