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Eugene, USAThe penultimate day of the US Olympic Trials saw world-leading times in two sprint events, plus deciding rounds in two field events in addition to the Heptathlon.
As a heavy mist descended over Hayward Field late in the programme, it was not expected that the semifinal times from earlier in the afternoon in the men’s 110m Hurdles (Jason Richardson 12.98 and Aries Merritt PB 13.01) would be matched. However, World indoor champion Merritt was not to be deterred as he led everyone from the start and recorded a world-leading 12.93 to claim the win and record his second career best in the space of just over two hours.
Current World champion Richardson equalled his PB 12.98 from the semifinal round to take second, while Jeff Porter lowered his lifetime best —from 13.26 to 13.19 (semifinal) to 13.08— to take the final team spot. Beijing bronze winner David Oliver never recovered from a sluggish start and finished fifth at 13.17 behind the 13.14 from fourth-place Antwon Hicks. With 13.24, Ryan Wilson had the dubious distinction of recording the fastest-ever time for seventh place.
Felix rockets up to No. 4 all-time
The hurdlers served to warm up the atmosphere for the finalists in the women’s 200m which followed. Allyson Felix didn’t have the best start of the elite eight, but by the end of the curve she had decimated the field on her way to a stunning 21.69 time. Aside from being Felix’s career best, it lifted her to the number-four position of all time. Not since 1998 has the event had such a fast clocking. It was also an Olympic Trials record, surpassing the 21.77 by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. It goes without saying that it was a world best for the year.
With all eyes on Felix, the rest of the field finished almost unnoticed. Carmelita Jeter (PB 22.11) and Sanya Richards-Ross (22.22), both of whom have team spots in other events, took the next places and completed the US roster in this event.
Lowe prevails in High Jump as Acuff makes fifth Olympic team
The three finalists in the women’s High Jump final in possession of the A-standard conveniently finished one-two-three, but a fourth jumper emerged to give the competition some drama. American record holder and current World indoor champion Chaunté Lowe jumped at the opening height of 1.79m, as did all of the finalists in view of the approaching moist weather. Seven consecutive clearances through a season-best 2.01m gave her the win on a countback over Daegu finalist Brigetta Barrett, whose only blemish at 1.95m dropped her to second but not before she had added two personal bests (1.98m and 2.01m). Both Lowe and Barrett exited at 2.04m, Barrett coming very close on her final attempt.
At 1.92m, Shanay Briscoe dramatically improved her PB from 1.90m with a third-jump success, as Amy Acuff matched her at that height to send the bar to the A-norm of 1.95m. That level was out of Briscoe’s reach, but not Acuff’s as the soon-to-be-37 jumper, after two seasons of inactivity, found herself going to her fifth Olympic Games.
Taylor over Claye in the Triple Jump
Seven of the 12 finalists in the men’s Triple Jump recorded their day’s best in the first round while the sun was shining and the wind was at their backs. After that, the weather disintegrated somewhat and the wind reversed. It was Daegu champion Christian Taylor emerging as the winner with a season-best 17.63m as his one-time Florida teammate Will Claye, the current World indoor champion, was right behind at 17.55m. As the only two competitors with an A-standard, that pair will constitute the US triple jump contingent in London.
Former World champion Walter Davis finished a distant third at 16.69m while yet another jumper with a University of Florida connection, Omar Craddock, was fourth with 16.55m.
U.S. 20km race walk record on the track for Barron
The men’s 20-kilometre race walk trials (on the track) were contested early Saturday morning. Nineteen-year-old Trevor Barron, who came to Eugene as the American junior record holder in the event, exited as the senior record holder as well with a 1:23:00.10 clocking. Barron won by more than four minutes over his coach, two-time Olympian Tim Seaman, who finished second with 1:27:29.48. For 12 years, Seaman had held the national record of 1:23:40.0 that Barron broke. Nick Christie was next across the finish line at 1:29:47.30. Barron (soon to be 20 and not a 'junior’) achieved the A-standard for London earlier this season and will be the lone Olympic representative.
The Heptathlon concluded as Beijing silver medallist Hyleas Fountain successfully defended her Olympic Trials title with 6419 points. Taking the next two places were Sharon Day (6343) and Chantae McMillan (6188), both personal bests. Both Fountain and McMillan obtained A-standards at the last moment to secure Olympic nominations so the US will have the full complement of heptathletes in London. [Click here for the Heptathlon Day 2 report.]
The ever-changing weather brought headwinds to the men’s 200m semifinals. NCAA champion Maurice Mitchell recorded the fastest time (20.45) as Isiah Young followed close behind in semi two (20.45). Other race winners were 2008 Olympic silver winner Shawn Crawford (20.48) and Wallace Spearmon (20.59). Beijing 100m finalist Darvis Patton also reached the final with 20.50 behind Mitchell and Young.