The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

Robles and Merritt Open Fast

May 2nd, 2012
9:39 am PDT

The “relay” season is over which means that the pattern of meets is about to change, as we move from domestic competitions to IAAF sanctioned international meets with the Diamond League at the core. So¬† instead of weekend meets running two or three days long we now move to single day competitions sometimes on the weekend, sometimes running mid week. That schedule started yesterday with several athletes starting their path to London at the Baie Mahault meet in Guadeloupe just outside France.

Lashawn MerrittWith the international season under way and literally weeks to go before the start of most country’s Olympic Trials we’ll start to get a rush of big name athletes making their debuts. Yesterday LaShawn Merritt (USA) and Dayron Robles (CUB) did just that with great success. Opening up against a field that included two time Olympic 400H gold medalist Angelo Taylor (USA), Merritt moved to the top of the world list at 44.73 ahead of Luguelin Santos (DOM, 45.29) and Taylor’s 45.31. The mark was nearly identical to his 44.74 opener last year in Stockholm – at the end of July. As a matter of fact, it’s also nearly identical to his 2008 opener of 44.72 – which lead to Olympic gold and a PR of 43.75. If past performance is any indication then Merritt’s race bodes well for 2012.

Similar results were turned in by Robles who opened his season with a 13.19 victory over Ronnie Ash (USA, 13.30) and Joel Brown (USA, 13.37). Robles’ mark was just off David Oliver’s 13.17 world leader. But like Merritt’s opener has some historical significance. Robles’ mark was also nearly identical to his ’08 opener of 13.20 – starting off a season that resulted in the WR (12.87) and the Olympic title! So other hurdlers out there may want to take note. And in case anyone is wondering Liu Xiang opened at 13.20 in ’04 when he won Olympic gold and set his first WR. So now I’m dying to see Liu’s opener.

Also of note were the results of the women’s 100 hurdles where defending Olympic champion Dawn Harper (USA) won in 12.71 – moving her to #3 on the current world list – finishing well up on Ginnie Crawford (USA, 12.87). The mark is Harper’s fastest ever opener, replacing her 12.74 from last year’s Baie Mahault meet. That opener lead to a 12.47 PR and silver at Worlds, so perhaps a prophetic debut for Harper. Of course she still has to face that buzzsaw named Sally Pearson.

The most significant of the remaining results could be the women’s 100 where Lashaunte’a Moore (USA, 11.11] defeated Jeneba Tarmoh (USA, 11.24) and Lauryn Williams (USA, 11.26). Significant because they are among several women fighting for 100 meter and 4×1 tickets to London for the US team. So all will be looking for any edge they can get over the others.

Results should start coming in quickly now. We’re supposed to get Usain Bolt’s opener at the Jamaica Invitational this weekend and the first Diamond League competition in Doha next week. USATF hired a CEO last week, and CAS just ruled on Britain’s lifetime Olympic bans. So there’s a ton to talk about. So I’ll be back shortly.

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