On a sunny, action-filled Day 3 (Fri 23 June) at 2006 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships (21 – 25 June), a near-record crowd of 9267 saw Justin Gatlin and Marion Jones score convincing 100 metres victories, Bernard Lagat become an American champion for the first time, and Adam Nelson and Brian Johnson win exciting Shot Put and Long Jump competitions.
Gatlin, Jones breeze through three rounds to win short dash titles
Thursday's rain-out made it necessary to run all three rounds of the 100 metres races on the same day - a test of psychological as well as physical strength. Gatlin and Jones handled it with ease and were clearly dominant.
After a false start in his heat, Gatlin was off slowly, but he put in a burst and won by more than 2m in 10.02. In his semi he ran 9.99 into a 1.2m/s headwind and left Shawn Crawford 3 metres back. In the final he ran a picture-perfect 9.93, again into a 1.2 m/s headwind, and only Tyson Gay, at 10.07, was within shouting distance.
He was almost apologetic for not running faster: "Running three rounds was a big factor, and maybe why I wasn't able to produce a faster time."
Jones and Gatlin each turned in the fastest times in all three rounds. Jones won her heat in 11.17 and cruised to 11.22 in her semi. In the final she came out low, built a metre lead by 60m, and then held off finishing charges by Lauryn Williams and Torri Edwards to win in 11.10 into a 0.9 headwind.
Jones said, "It's a satisfying feeling. It was a challenging three rounds, and experience plays a big part."
Nelson muscles back to Shot Put victory over Cantwell, Hoffa
The men's shot was a thriller, with all eight finalists over 20 metres.
World champion Adam Nelson took the early lead with an opening put of 21.46, but lost it to defending champion Christian Cantwell's third-round 21.89. Nelson came close with a 21.86 fourth-rounder, and re-took the lead in Round five with 22.04. Cantwell's final put was a massive foul close to 23 metres, but a foul's a foul, and Nelson's 22.04 was the winner. Reese Hoffa, always close, muscled the shot 21.96 on his last try to edge past Cantwell for second.
"I felt very good, like I was going to be able to respond to anything," said an elated Nelson. "We had all the makings for the best competition ever. The U.S. is so deep in the Shot Put. Anybody can do it. We dominate in this event."
Johnson upsets Phillips in the Long Jump
The men's long jump was another three-way battle - among world and Olympic champion Dwight Phillips, defending U.S. champion Miguel Pate, and Brian Johnson - but the marks weren't as dazzling because the jumpers were facing a headwind. Johnson third-round jump of 8.10 (-1.7) proved just enough to edge Phillips 8.08 (-2.5), with Pate's 7.96 (-0.2). The location of the runway and pit, just a couple of metres from the grandstand, made it especially exciting for the fans.
Bernard Lagat also had a busy early summer day. With the late-afternoon sun still high in the sky and the temperature a humid 33-34 C, he won his heat of the 1500 as cheaply as possible in 3:44.46. Three hours later he won a hotly contested 5000m (a one-off final) in 13:14.32, outkicking Matt Tegenkamp with a 56.7 last 400 metres.
"Today was a crazy day for sure," said Lagat. "I've been planning for this for a long time, and I felt good after the 1500 metres. This win came and it wasn't easy, but, I'm really pleased with it. I had to do this one today."
Third national Javelin record of the season for Kreiner
Kim Kreiner bettered her own American record for the women's Javelin Throw, raising it from 62.12m to 62.43. It was her fourth national record this year.60.88m, Wilson Davis CA 22 Apr
61.79m, Fortaleza BRA 17 May
62.12m, San Mateo CA 28 May
62.43m, Indianapolis IN 23 Jun
In the women's triple jump, Shani Marks improved her PB to 13.89 to upset two-time champion Tiombe Hurd by three centimetres.
In qualifying rounds, the men's 400 semifinals were won by Andrew Rock's 44.68 and Darold Williamson's 45.11, with Angelo Taylor's 45.24 failing to qualify for Saturday's final. The semis for the men's 400 hurdles continued to presage a classic three-way war in the final, as the three fastest qualifiers were Bershawn Jackson (48.63), Kerron Clement (48.70) and James Carter (48.89). Nobody else was close.
Halfway through the Decathlon, World champion Brian Clay was facing a strong challenge from Tom Pappas, the three-time U.S champion who took 2005 off to let his injuries heal. Clay's five-event total is 4394, Pappas' is 4342, with new collegiate record holder Trey Hardee third at 4,162.
After the first four events of the Heptathlon, Gigi Johnson leads Defending champion Hyleas Fountain, 3765 to 3639.
James Dunaway for the IAAFClick here for Schedule and RESULTS