Lashinda Demus celebrates her win at the US champs (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Eugene, USA

World season leads for Demus and Merritt as team takes shape in Eugene - USA Champs, Day 3

David Payne is planning in advance this year. Payne flew to Osaka on short notice to go from alternate to bronze medallist in 2007, with apparently no trace of jet lag, giving rise to jokes about "Payne off the Plane" and "David Payne Standard Time."

Saturday afternoon (27 June), Payne booked his ticket for the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Berlin, Germany (15– 23 Aug), in advance by beating Terrence Trammell to the line in the men's 110m hurdle final.

Both Payne and Trammell were credited with 13.12 clockings, Payne finishing with a .003-second advantage over Trammell. Aries Merrit in 13.15 snagged the third team spot, with the rest of the field out of contention.

"This means that I am someone to be reckoned with," Payne said, "and now I don’t have to find out at the last minute whether or not I'm going to Berlin. I think I can definitely win in Berlin. The question before this meet was whether or not I could win here, and I did it."

53.78 world season lead for Demus

Lashinda Demus was the class of the field in the women's 400m Hurdles, getting a strong start and leading through the second curve, where she was challenged by Sheena Tosta. Tosta led briefly coming in to the homestretch but Demus produced a perfect drive through the last two hurdles to finish in a world season leading 53.78 sec, a facility record at Hayward Field. Tosta was second in 54.45 with Tiffany Williams claiming the third team spot.

"It feels a lot better than not making the team," said Demus, who faded to fourth on the homestretch at last year's Olympic Trials.

Richards, Merritt dominate 400m

LaShawn Merritt equalled his own world season leading mark in the men's 400m final, powering down the homestretch to another 44.50sec and a chance to add a World Championships gold to his Olympic medal.

Collegian Gil Roberts of Texas Tech was the closest challenger with a 44.93 in second; Kerron Clement, already on the team as the defending World champion in the 400m Hurdles, earned a second spot by finishing third in the flat race with a 45.14.

"I played it smart," said Merritt. "I didn't want to race hard the whole way." Merritt noted the winds which, while blowing sprinters in shorter events to fast times, bedeviled the longer races on the backstretch. "Because I knew the wind, I ran in it these past two days. I got through it, got to the curve, worked it and finished up strong."

Merritt's main rival, Jeremy Wariner, ensured his own spot in Berlin by running the first round of the 200m earlier in the afternoon, running 20.77 to advance to tomorrow's semi-finals. As the defending World champion, Wariner is guaranteed a spot in Berlin.

Sanya Richards showed no signs of weakness in the women's 400m final, but she also faced no serious challenge. Richards posted a 50.05sec clocking to win ahead of Debbie Dunn's 50.79. Jessica Beard was third in 50.81.

"I don’t think this was one of my best races," said Richards. "The wind has been tough at Hayward all week. I just wanted to run smart and make sure I brought it home to win. I haven't run a 48 in two or three seasons," she continued, explaining her seasonal goals, "but my number one goal is still to win in Berlin."

Men's vault picks four

Brad Walker, also a defending World champion, didn't need to win the men's Pole Vault to go to Berlin, but win he did, with the best record of four vaulters clearing 5.75m.

"I thought everyone would clear 5.70m," said Walker, "but I thought I had a good chance to win at 5.75. I was coming off a short approach so I wasn't close to being at 100 percent of what I can actually jump. I know I can jump higher, but I didn't want to push the approach."

Walker will be joined in Berlin by Jeremy Scott and Derek Miles, tied for second with identical vault sheets, and Toby Stevenson, who finished fourth.

Other finals winners

Shannon Rowbury defended her national title by chasing down Christin Wurth-Thomas in the homestretch of the women's 1500m. Rowbury ran 4:05.07, noting that "If I race well, the time will take care of itself."

Current world leader Dwight Phillips capitalized on a 2.2m/s tailwind to record a 8.57m Long Jump for the win in that event. His second-best jump, a 8.49m with a 2.4 tailwind, would also have won; Brian Johnson in second had 8.26m with a whopping 4.0m/s draft behind him.

Kara Patterson threw 63.95m to win the women's Javelin Throw over Rachel Yurkovich (59.31m) and Kim Kreiner (58.00m). A.G. Kruger flung the Hammer 75.31m to win that event.

Josh McAdams won the 3000m Steeplechase in 8:29.91, with Daniel Huling
(8:32.86) and Kyle Alcorn (8:34.65) joining him on the team for Berlin. Early on Saturday morning, Tim Seaman bested Patrick Stroupe to win the men's 20,000m Race Walk, 1:26:14 to 1:26:41.

Qualifying action

In other qualifying action for Sunday's finale, Damu Cherry and Lolo Jones advanced from the rounds of the women's 100m Hurdles, and defending 200m World champion Allyson Felix advanced in that event.

Olympic 400m Hurdles gold medallist Angelo Taylor was among those advancing to the final in that event.

Parker Morse for the IAAF

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