Will Claye threatens the 18-metre barrier in Sacramento (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Sacramento, USA

Claye sails 17.91m to win at US Championships in Sacremento

Will Claye climbed to the ninth spot on the world all-time triple jump list to highlight the second day of the US Championships in Sacramento on Friday (23).

Claye, the two-time Olympic silver medallist, produced a superb series. Opening with 17.47m, the 26-year-old improved to 17.68m and 17.79m in the next two rounds, the latter just three centimetres shy of his personal best set at the Eugene leg of the IAAF Diamond League last month. He reached 17.76m in the fourth round before sailing 17.91m in the fifth to break into the world's all-time top 10, and fourth among US athletes.

Behind him, runner-up Chris Benard and Donald Scott, who was third, also set lifetime bests, reaching 17.48m and 17.25m respectively, to claim their spots on the London-bound national team.

Two-time Olympic champion Christian Taylor, the current world leader with 18.11m, intentionally fouled his only attempt. Taylor has a wild card for the IAAF World Championships London 2017, but USATF rules require him to participate at the US Championships to be chosen to the US team.

In the 100m, Justin Gatlin showed he's not ready to let Christian Coleman succeed him as the United States’ premier sprinter.

The 35-year-old Gatlin won in 9.95, handing Coleman his first loss at that distance this year. Coleman, 21, was second in 9.98.

Both Gatlin and Coleman were college sprinters at Tennessee. It seemed inevitable Coleman would overtake his elder this year after setting a collegiate record of 9.82, also a world lead, on 7 June. But Coleman said he was “reaching for the line” and said he must maintain composure.

Gatlin started evenly – his reaction time was 0.168 to Coleman’s 0.161 – and powered to victory in the closing stages against a slight headwind (-0.7m/s). Afterwards, Gatlin said he wanted to race Usain Bolt one more time.

Christoper Belcher, third at the NCAA Championships on 9 June, equalled that finish here, clocking 10.06.

Impressive wins for Bowie, Cunningham and Chelimo

Elsewhere, Tori Bowie won the women’s 100m, Vashti Cunningham set a North American U20 record of 1.99m in the women’s high jump, Paul Chelimo set a meeting record of 13:08.62 in the 5000m, and Clayton Murphy remained on track for a historic 800m/1500m double.

Bowie, who went home with three Olympic medals last year, dominated the women's 100m in 10.94, the second fastest of the season for the Olympic 100m silver medallist.

“The goal today was to finish top three, so finishing first is great," Bowie said. "I’m extremely excited and I still feel like I have a ton to work on before Worlds because I really hope to do well.”

Deajah Stevens edged Ariana Washington by 0.02 to finish second, clocking 11.08.

In the high jump, 19-year-old Cunningham had a clean sheet through 1.94m, then cleared 1.99m on her second attempt. It was the highest jump by an U20 jumper since 1989 and equalled her PB from the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016.

Brigetta Barrett, the 2012 Olympic silver medallist who retired at age 25 last year and unretired 14 months later, was fourth at 1.88m. 33-year-old Chaunte Lowe, the 2012 world indoor champion, tied for seventh at 1.80m. She had jumped 1.94m on 10 June.

Chelimo, silver medallist behind Mo Farah in the 5000m in Rio, knocked more than four seconds from the previous meeting record of 13:12.76 set by Tim Broe in 2005. It was a solitary run by Chelimo, whose opening lap was 61 seconds.

“I’m just trying to improve every year. I’m not looking at anybody,” said Chelimo, 26. “Tonight I was trying to test myself to the limit.”

The 22-year-old Murphy meanwhile is attempting to be the first to win an 800m/1500m double since Glenn Cunningham in 1933. (Rick Wolhluter won both at the 1976 Olympic Trials, but those were not considered the nationals.) The Olympic 800m bronze medallist was second in his semifinal in 1:45.70 to reach Sunday’s final. He meets Olympic gold medallist Matthew Centrowitz in Saturday’s 1500m final.

Hardee collects fourth national title

In the absence of the retired Ashton Eaton, the decathlon was won by two-time world champion Trey Hardee. It was Hardee’s fourth US title, eight years after his first – a record for most years between wins. Hardee, 33, finished with 8225 after a scare in the pole vault, in which he needed a third-attempt clearance at his opening height of 4.90m.

“Here is the thing: I never went anywhere, so I am not 'back',” Hardee said. “I am just old. A lot has happened, weird injuries. If they happen earlier in my career, maybe they are derailers and I never get off the ground.”

Fred Kerley leads 400m qualifiers with 44.11, Harrison clocks 12.54 world lead

Semifinals of the men’s 400m were such that Mylik Kerley ran 44.85 – and did not advance because he was fifth. Had he been in the other semifinal, he would have won and advanced to the final. His brother, world leader Fred Kerley, won the first semifinal in 44.11 over Gil Roberts’ PB of 44.33. World U20 200m champion Michael Norman was third in a PB of 44.60.

In her first race since breaking a bone in her hand on 5 May in Doha, world record-holder Kendra Harrison won her heat of the 100m hurdles in 12.54, fastest in the world this year.

In a Thursday final, Galen Rupp not only had his streak of eight consecutive titles in the 10,000m end, he finished fifth and did not make the World Championships team. Rupp had suggested this would be his final race on the track but backed away from that in comments to The Oregonian.

Samuel Chelanga threw in a series of surges to shake up the field after a 5:10 opening mile, but he could not hold on and finished seventh in a dash to the line. Hassan Mead closed in 55.22 to win in 29:01.44. Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir claimed the two other team spots in 29:01.68 and 29:02.64 respectively. Rupp’s time was 29:04.61.

World bronze medallist Trayvon Bromell and 2007 world champion Tyson Gay went out in the first round of the 100m. Bromell was third in his heat in 10.22 in his first race after an achilles injury. Gay, 34, was third in another heat in 10.17. He was racing eight months after the death of his 15-year-old daughter, Trinity.

Gabe Grunewald, a cancer survivor who is fighting cancer yet again, ran her 1500m heat and was slowest of 28 entries in 4:31.18. Runners surrounded her afterwards in a circle of prayer and support.

In the women’s 800m, Alysia Montano, due to deliver her second child in November, ran while pregnant at the US Championships for a second time. She was slowest of 30 in the first round in 2:21.40. She ran while eight months pregnant in 2014. Montano, 31, a six-time outdoor national champion, was fifth at the 2012 Olympics but missed out on Rio last year after being tripped in the closing 200 meters at the US Trials.

Casimir Loxsom and Nick Symmonds were first-round casualties of the 800m. Loxsom, who set a world indoor 600m best on 30 January, was fifth in his heat in 1:48.81. World silver medallist Symmonds was 32nd of 33 finishers in 1:51.52. The 33-year-old has said this would be his final elite track competition.

Stephanie Brown-Trafton, the 2008 Olympic discus champion, also announced her retirement. She was 10th with a distance of 52.23m.

Roy Jordan for the IAAF