Day Three of the senior events at the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships produced several excellent performances and two stunning upsets on Saturday (23).
The composition of the USA team for the 11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Osaka, Japan (25 Aug to 2 Sep) is decided by the top three positions in each final, subject of course to each athlete holding a qualification mark.
Hope of 200m slot in Osaka remains
De’Hashia ‘DeeDee’ Trotter, fourth at the 200 metre mark, swept past World Athlete of the Year Sanya Richards at the top of the homestretch of the women’s 400m and pulled away to win in a world leading 49.64 PB. Behind her, Richards was also passed by Natasha Hastings (49.84 PB) and Mary Wineberg (50.24 PB) as she struggled in fourth in 50.68 – 1.98 seconds off her American record of 48.70.
“I was hoping for the win,” confirmed Trotter. “I've been struggling through a hamstring injury, so I've been going through some stuff lately. The important part is to make the team. I just wanted to be in the top 3 and get through this. The victory was a blessing to me. It was a dream. I didn't think I was ready for a PR. I just put it out there. It came as a surprise to me.”
Not counting indoor races it was Richards’ first defeat at 400 metres - after 18 straight victories - since her second-place finish at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki. Even more striking, it is the first time she has failed to make a U.S. national team as an individual since she became a U.S. citizen in May, 2002.
"I lost my thinking,” confirmed Richards. “I thought I was already on the team. I didn't fight for that third spot. I'm really, really disappointed. I've still got the 200. I'm going to come out and win that.”
Two hours later, Richards was back running in a 200m heat, in which she finished second in 23.47. Having won last year’s World Cup 200, she hopes to gain a place in an individual race in Osaka, in addition to her assured place on the 4x400 team.
Hoffa pummels 21 metres…Cantwell misses out
In the men’s Shot Put, Reese Hoffa was the victor, and Christian Cantwell the upset victim. All five of Hoffa’s fair puts were 21-metres efforts, the best being 21.47. Cantwell, who leads the 2007 world list with 21.96, could only manage 20.10 today, good enough for no better than fifth place.
“I got some good throws off. Today was my day,” said Hoffa modestly.
Joining Hoffa on the U.S. team for Osaka are Dan Taylor (21.00), defending world champion Adam Nelson (20.54, with four passes), and Noah Bryant, recently graduated from the University of Southern California, who edged Cantwell with 20.14.
Carter takes third 400m Hurdles title
The men’s one-lap races were both outstanding. In the final of the 400-metre hurdles, James Carter won his third national championship as he edged Kerron Clement , 47.72 to 47.80. Clement led through the first seven hurdles, but Carter passed him at the eighth and built a four metre lead over the tenth. But Clement’s foot speed (a 44.57 400m PB), cut the margin to less than a metre at the finish.
Perhaps Carter’s and Clement‘s task was made easier by the absence of 2005 World champion Bershawn Jackson and 2000 Olympic champion Angelo Taylor, both of whom opted for the 400 metres sans barrières.
Taylor slashes 400 PB
And the two made a huge difference in the flat 400. In fact, Taylor ran by far the fastest 400 of his life to finish 0.01 in front of favourite LaShawn Merritt, 44.05 to 44.06, times which moved them to ninth and tenth on the world all-time list – fast company, indeed.
Well behind them, Lionel Larry, a Southern California undergraduate, closed well to take third in 44.84 ahead of Darold Williamson’s 44.97, while Bershawn Jackson was fifth in 45.55.
Of course, 2005 winners Jackson and Jeremy Wariner will be added to the U.S. team for Osaka, Jackson in the 400m Hurdles and Wariner, who is running only the 200 metres here, in the 400m.
The decathlon was won by veteran Tom Pappas. Pappas, the World Championships gold medailist in 2003, scored 8352 today, nearly 300 better than runner-up Paul Terek.
Powell over Perry
Virginia Powell, Michelle Perry and Lolo Jones finished in the expected 1-2-3 order in the 100-metre hurdles, the strength of Powell prevailing in 12.63 despite a 1.3 headwind. Since Perry is an automatic qualifier, fourth-placer Nichole Denby, who ran a quite respectable 12.82, will also have a place on the Osaka team. Olympic champion Joanna Hayes went out in the semi-finals with cramps.
“This means everything to me,” confirmed Powell. “I think it's definitely a reflection of the hard work I've been putting in. It's both a thrill and a satisfaction. Now I know I'm definitely going to the World Championships and I have a chance at the gold medal.
At the other end of the women’s hurdling spectrum, Jennifer Barringer recovered from her seventh place in the NCAA two weeks ago to post the second-fastest 3000m Steeplechase time ever, outracing NCAA winner Anna Willard down the final straight, 9:34.66 to Willard’s 9:34.72.
Of the rest…Hyleas Fountain won the women's Heptathlon with 6090 points; Grace Upshaw took her third national Long Jump crown with a last round 6.74m (+2.5); Amy Acuff won her sixth USA outdoor title in the women's High Jump (1.89m); Treniere Clement won her third straight national 1500m title in the event in 4:07.04.
Varying winds caused some surprise eliminations in the first round of the men’s 110m Hurdles, where Ron Bramlett and Robby Hughes, who have run 13.39 and 13.26 respectively, could manage only 13.81 and 13.96 while running into a 3.5 m/s wind.
Also in the day's qualifying heats, Tyson Gay posted the fastest time in the men's 200m (20.66, -2.4m/s).
James Dunaway for the IAAF
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