Posted by: Joe English | August 19, 2008

Olympics: Harper wins 100M hurdles, Richards takes bronze in 400M

BEIJING – A thrilling win for Dawn Harper, a bronze for Sanya Richards and a heartbreak for Lolo Jones made for a tumultuous Tuesday night at the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium.

The 2003 USA junior champion, Harper (Los Angeles) was considered by many to have a possible shot at a medal in the 100m hurdles final, but no one expected gold. It was teammate Lolo Jones who seemed destined for the top of the podium, owning the fastest time in the world and winning her races by large margins. Although a bit slow out of the blocks, Jones (Baton Rouge, La.) rallied quickly and was clear of the field by the eighth hurdle. The normally clean-hurdling Jones hit the ninth hurdle, made it over the 10th hurdle and ended in seventh place (12.72). Behind her, the field moved up, with Harper winning in a personal-best time of 12.54 seconds, with Sally McLellan of Australia second in 12.64 and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada third in 12.64. Team USA’s Damu Cherry (Winter Garden, Fla.) was fourth in 12.65.

In the 400, the heavily favored Richards ran her traditional, strong first 200 meters and hit the homestretch in the lead. But she very noticeably slowed with about 75 meters remaining. Her right hamstring had grabbed, causing her to lose form and forcing her to will herself to the finish line as she watched her gold-medal hopes slip. World champion Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain moved up from the middle of the field to first place, winning in 49.62. Shericka Williams of Jamaica was second in 49.69, with Richards third in 49.93. Despite her disappointment, Richards’ performance had historic significance: It was Team USA’s fourth Olympic medal ever in the event and the first since Valerie Brisco-Hooks and Chandra Cheeseborough went 1-2 in 1984.

More Americans sweep into finals
Full-roster qualifying runs were de rigueur for Team USA Tuesday night. In the men’s 200m semifinals, Walter Dix (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was third in heat 1 in 20.19, Shawn Crawford (Los Angeles) was second in heat 2 in 20.12, and Wallace Spearmon (Fayetteville, Ark.) third in the same heat in 20.14. The three will lock horns with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in Wednesday’s final.

It was more of the same in the men’s 400m semifinals. Defending gold medalist Jeremy Wariner (Waco, Texas) looked very strong in winning the first of three semis in 44.15, LaShawn Merritt (Suffolk, Va.) was equally strong in heat 3 (44.12), and David Neville (Hampton, Va.) was second in heat 2 in 44.91 as the trio moved to the final, slated for Thursday.

For the firs time, all three Americans will compete in Friday night’s final of the women’s 5,000m after strong showings Tuesday night. Competing in her third Olympics in her third different distance event, Jen Rhines (Mammoth Lakes) qualified automatically by running 15:15.12 to place sixth in heat 1. American record holder Shalane Flanagan (Pittsboro, N.C.) was sixth in heat 2 in 14:59.69 to automatically advance, and Olympic Trials champion Kara Goucher (Portland, Ore.) was seventh in 15:00.98, qualifying on time.

Quality quarterfinals
Runner-up runs were the theme for American women’s 200m runners in the quarterfinal round. Allyson Felix (Los Angeles, Calif.) was second in heat 1 in 22.74; Marshevet Hooker (Pfugerville, Texas) was second in heat 3 in 22.76, and Muna Lee (College Station, Texas) was second in heat 4 in 22.83 as all three moved on to the semifinals.

In the men’s 110m hurdles quarterfinal round, David Oliver (Kissimmee, Fla.) posted the fastest time of the round by winning heat 4 in 13.16. David Payne won heat 1 in 13.24 as both men head into the semifinals.

Running Advice and News


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