Sunday, August 5, 2012

Bolt blazes to second Olympic 100m title...

LONDON--True to form, Jamaica's Usain Bolt (above/photo courtesy London2012.com) didn't disappoint the 80000 fans inside Olympic Stadium as he successfully defended his Olympic 100 meter title to end day 3 of track & field competition Sunday night.

The Jamaican, not known for his start, was slightly behind as 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin got out well on his inside, as well as 2007 world champ Tyson Gay, and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake, the reigning world champion from Daegu.

At the 60 meter mark, Bolt found another gear and pulled away from the trio to cross the line first in an Olympic record 9.62.

Blake rallied to clip Gatlin for second, with Blake running a personal-best 9.75 and Gatlin third in 9.79, the fastest ever by an American at the Games and a personal best. Gay was fourth in a season-best time of 9.80, and third American Ryan Bailey from Salem, Oregon tied his personal best in fifth (9.88).

Such was the depth of the race that seven of the eight finishers crossed the line under ten seconds, and the first seven runners ran the best times for place in Olympic history.

The folks in the stands knew something special was going to happen, when in the semifinals earlier in the evening, Gatlin ran 9.82, the fastest time ever run in a semi, while Bolt ran 9.87 to win semifinal #3.

University of Texas alum Sanya Richards-Ross, the 2009 world champion at 400 meters, finally got the Olympic title she longed for in three attempts, as she took the lead with about 40 meters to go to stave off the challenge of 2007 world champ and hometown favorite Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain, after DeeDee Trotter took the lead entering the home straight.

“It is very, very challenging to come to the Olympic stage and give your best performance and balance emotionally and physically. To come out here and be successful is my ultimate dream come true. It is a huge weight off my shoulders, I kept telling myself, ‘you are the champ, you are the champ,’ but to go out there and to actually accomplish it was really tough. I got out really well the first 50, then I kind of backed off a little too much down the backstretch."

"I got to the 100 meters and there was about four of us across the track, which I’m not used to. I just kept saying, ‘you can do this, you can do this’ and I dug really deep and I crossed the finish line first."

Richards-Ross ran 49.55, while Ohuruogu crossed the line in 49.70, with Trotter claiming the bronze in 49.72. The third American, Francena McCorory, was seventh in 50.33.

In other Sunday finals involving Americans, Evan Jager of Portland was sixth (8:23.87) and Donn Cabral (8:25.91) were sixth and eighth, respectively in the 3000m steeplechase, as reigning world champ Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya took the win in 8:18.56, running diagonally off the final hurdle and finishing in lane 7, much as he did in Daegu last year.

US Olympic Trials champ Kibwe Johnson, who trains in Kamloops, British Columbia, was ninth in the hammer with a best of 245-10 (74.95m), as Kristian Pars of Hungary won with a toss of 264-5 (80.59m).

All three Americans--reigning world champ Jesse Williams of Eugene, Erik Kynard, and Jamie Nieto, who was born in Seattle--qualified for Tuesday's finals in the men's high jump, as did Canada's Mike Mason of Nanoose Bay, BC, a frequent competitor indoors at the Dempsey.

In the men's 1500, Texas alum Leo Manzano, and world championships bronze medalist Matthew Centrowitz from Eugene advanced to Tuesday's finals.

In the men’s 400m semifinals, Florida's NCAA champ Tony McQuay was fourth in heat 2 in 45.31 and Bryshon Nellum from USC was third in heat 3 at 45.02 and did not advance. Except for 1980 when the U.S. boycotted the Games, this is the first time Team USA will not have a man in the 400m final in Olympic history.

In the women's marathon, held on the streets of London earlier in the day, Ethiopia's Tiki Gelana survived a fall approaching a water stop to take the gold medal in an Olympic record time of 2:23:07, defeating the deepest field of women marathoners ever put together.

Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya got the silver five seconds back, and Russian Tatyana Petrova Arkhipova, who missed a medal four years ago in the steeplechase, was the big surprise in third in 2:23:29, ahead of pre-race favorite Mary Keitany of Kenya who was fourth in 2:23:56.

Oregon residents Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher finished tenth and eleventh in 2:25:51, and 2:26:07, respectively. Third American Desi Davila, who wasn't expected to start due to an injury suffered a few weeks ago, dropped out after completing the small loop of 2.2 miles before the three lap course of eight miles.

The quality of this race was clearly evident, as 78 women ran under 2:40; 54 were under 2:35; 29 ran under 2:30; and the top six ducked under 2:25.

Monday, two athletes with Washington ties--Marysville native Jarred Rome, and former Husky Märt Israel will compete in the men's discus qualifying round.

Israel will throw in flight 1, which starts at 10 am London time (2:00 am in Seattle), while Rome goes in flight 2, which starts at 11:35 am (3:35 am in Seattle).

Finals Monday night include the women's pole vault, the women's shot put, the men's 400 hurdles, the women's 3000 steeple, and the men's 400.

Complete day 3 results are available here; the start lists for day 4 are available here.

NOTE:  The IAAF, USA Track & Field, and London2012.com contributed to this report.

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