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

Worlds Day Six – USA Day (Sort Of)

Sep 1st, 2011
7:31 am PST

With three gold medals in five finals, one would have to say that it was a very good day for the United States. But in one event it was a good news, bad news day that left me a bit sad in spite of the gold medal.

That event was the final of the women’s 1500, where the field lined up twelve women of fairly equal ability. And they ran like it as no one seemed to want to set the pace as the field was still bunched with 2 laps to go. At that point Morgan Uceny was back in 9th and began was has been her standard move on the penultimate lap to gain position. But as the field was still closely packed suddenly Morgan went down to the track, and her dreams of gold went crashing on the Mondo. Then heading down the backstretch of the final lap several women finally began to fade slightly – among them defending champion Maryam Jamal (BRN) who seemed uncharacteristically tired. The field still remained tightly bunched however, and with 150 meters to go there were still seven women in contention. Coming off the final turn Natalia Rodriguez (ESP) went strong to the lead, and right behind her was Jenny Simpson (USA) and Hannah England (GBR). Some 50 meters out Simpson and England went by the Spaniard as Simpson sprinted to the win – and we had our first gold of the day! I’m ecstatic for Simpson who just two years ago was imagethe future of U.S. middle distance running, but has struggled a bit since with injury. Today was her rise back into the spotlight and a fulfillment of the potential she has shown. But I am just as sad for Uceny, who was enjoying her breakout year in the event. I want to see her get right back to it, because the silver lining in this joy/pain story is that we should have a great one two punch in 2012!

4:05.40 – Jenny Simpson (USA)

4:05.68 – Hannah England (GBR)

4:05.87 – Natalia Rodriguez (ESP)

 

Our second gold medal was won in an event where we haven’t medaled for TWENTY years, as Jesse Williams will be bringing the high jump gold back to the states! The last medal we won was gold in 1991 as Charles Austin leapt 2.38m/7’ 9.25” to defeat WR holder Javier Sotomayor. Today Jesse Williams was imagenearly flawless as he cleared every height on first attempt through 2.35m/7’ 8.5”. He missed three tries at 2.37m/7’ 9.25”, but it didn’t matter as he was already World Champion. His closest pursuer was Aleksey Dmitrik (RUS) who was as consistent as Williams as he cleared his final three heights on second attempt to secure the silver medal. No one else was close as these two dominated the competition.

2.35m – Jesse Williams (USA)

2.35 – Aleksey Dmitik (RUS)

2.32 – Trevor Barry (BAH)

 

The final U.S. gold of the day came in the women’s 400 hurdles, an event that had been promising fireworks all week. At the gun Kaliese Spencer (JAM) in lane2 and defending champion Melaine Walker (JAM) in lane eight went hard early with Spencer trying to make up ground on Lashinda Demus (USA) to her outside in lane three. This trio was clearly the best of the field as they stormed down the backstretch. With 200 to go Demus moved away from Spencer and took aim at Walker who was blazing on the outside.  And as they rounded the bend and hit the straight it was all Demus and Walker – Demus maintaining form and rolling down the stretch. imageWalker attempted to press her down the straight but Demus never faltered running through the line in 52.47 – a new AR and #3 all time. Walker crossed the line in 52.73, well up on the others as Natalya Antyukh (RUS) overtook Spencer to claim the bronze. The win finally got the silver monkey off Demus’ back having finished second in this meet in ’05 & ’09. It made for a great day for both Demus and the U.S.

52.47 – Lashinda Demus (USA)

52.73 – Melaine Walker (JAM)

53.85 – Natalya Antyukh (RUS)

 

I had hoped to see perhaps yet another gold medal in the next event, the men’s 400 hurdles, since we had won the last three straight titles – but that was not to be. The race started with a recall as everyone was waiting to see who was going to be disqualified – there was no qualification. Then after the reset, they were called up and Angelo Taylor (USA) given a warning – for what I’m still not sure. Finally they were off and Bershawn Jackson (USA) was out like a shot. It was Javier Culson (PUR) who went flying down the backstretch however with Taylor in hot pursuit. Coming off the turn it was Culson and Taylor but Taylor was showing fatigue from working so hard on the inside and Jackson trying to imagemake a move in the middle of the track. At that point the Americans began to fade, and David Greene (GBR) and L.J. van Zyl (RSA) shifted gears and began to go after Culson. Greene proved to be the strongest man in the stretch as he overhauled the Panamanian to win going away at the line. It was the first gold for Britain since David Hemery won in Mexico City in 1968 – and the first time we’ve failed to medal in this event since 2001.

48.26 – David Greene (GBR)

48.44 – Javier Culson (PUR)

48.80 – L.J. van Zyl (RSA)

 

So, like I said, it was a great day for the U.S. – sort of. With a bit of luck we’ll see more of the same tomorrow as there are some favorable finals on the docket. With the men’s shot put & 4×4 relay and the women’s 200 meters. The semis opening round and semis of that 200 were held today with all the major players advancing including defending champion Allyson Felix (USA), Carmelita Jeter (USA) and Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM). The race could end up being the meet’s ultimate U.S. v Jamaica showdown as both nations put three women through to the final. With Felix winning the last three World titles; Campbell Brown the last two Olympic titles; and Jeter on a roll this could be the race of the day – if not the meet!

Tomorrow will also mark the first time that we’ll have the 4×4 relay before the end of the meet – traditionally the meet’s final event. Today’s morning session took place with semi one BLAZING as the U.S. squad (2:58.82) lead Jamaica (2:59.13) and South Africa (2:59.21) under the3:00 barrier – sending five teams to tomorrow’s final. The men’s shot put final will also be on tap with all four Americans taking the field. But the most surmising development of today was the revival of defending men’s long jump champion Dwight Philips (USA) who led this morning’s qualifying at 8.32m/27’ 3.25” – his only jump of the qualifying round. Phillips looked fast and good off the board and suddenly capable of putting up a fight against early favorite Mitchell Watt (AUS) who was #2 in qualifying at 8.15m/26’ 9. With only three jumps between them, both are clearly saving it for tomorrow, which means we should have a very exciting competition. So Thursday is shaping up as another very good day for track and field.

Tomorrow’s Finals

  • Men’s Shot Put
  • Women’s Javelin
  • Men’s Long Jump
  • Women’s 5000
  • Women’s 200
  • Men’s 4×4 relay

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