Track and field
Sheena Tosta (Chula Vista, Calif.) won the silver medal in the women's 400m hurdles, run Wednesday evening at the National Stadium. Her time of 53.70 was 1.06 behind Jamaica's Melaine Walker, who won in a world-record time of 52.64 seconds. Tasha Danvers of Great Britain won the bronze medal with a 53.84. Tiffany Ross-Williams (Orlando, Fla.) finished eighth with a 57.55 effort.
The confident young runner from Jamaica Usain Bolt won the 200 meters in world record time in 19.30. Unlike his finish in the 100 meters where he celebrated in the final 10 meters, Bolt ran hard the full race in a rout.
But the weird thing happened following the race, when American Wallace Spearman thought he had won the bronze medal. He was taking a victory lap with the American flag with Bolt.
He didn't find out he was disqualified for going into another lane until he was more than done with the victory lap.
The 2004 gold medalist in the event -- Shawn Crawford -- earned the bronze.
BEIJING- When Andrew Wheating stepped onto the track at the National Stadium tonight (local time), he just smiled in amazement. The 20-year-old never expected to be competing at the Olympics this early in his career. But when he finished his 800 meter preliminary heat in 1 minute 47.05 seconds and failed to advance to the semifinals, it wasn’t quite the ending he imagined to his first Olympic experience. Wheating placed 25th overall in the first qualifying round. The only American to reach the semifinals was Nick Symmonds, who won his heat in 1:46.01.
“I should have been able to react a little better," said Wheating. "The first quarter is usually pretty slow and I just wasn’t ready for it [to speed up],” said Wheating, “The heat went out slow and then they dropped the pace from like 53 [seconds per lap] to like 49 pace. It was a bit of a shock and hard to stay with. I let them creep forward and I had to catch them. When I finally caught them, they got away again. It’s a rookie mistake. Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t have to deal with it next time.”
Having just finished his sophomore year at the University of Oregon, Wheating could be a contender in the 800 at the 2012 London Olympics. Next time around, he will probably enter a few more races between the trials and the Olympics, so he will be sharper for the early rounds. He knows he still has a lot to learn about the sport and race experience helps. After all, he didn’t seriously pursue track until his senior year at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H. He has been rapidly rising through the ranks of US distance runners ever since, finishing second in the 800 at the US track and field trials in a personal best 1:45.03.
David Payne and David Oliver each qualified for the finals of the men's 110-meter hurdles.
Cuba's Dayron Robles, the favorite of the event, also qualified for the finals.
American Bernard Lagat, the reigning world champion, qualified for the finals of the men's 5000 meters.
Aksana Miankova, a tall, slender athlete from Belarus took the women's hammer throw with an Olympic record throw of 76.34 meters to capture the gold medal over Cuba's Yipsi Moreno (75.20) and China's Wenxiu Zhang (74.32).
American Nick Symmonds ran a 1:46.01 in the first round of the men's 800. He won his heat. The day's best time was turned in by Kenya's Wilfred Bungei with a mark of 1:44.90.
Angelo Taylor (Decatur, Ga.) led a 1-2-3 finish by the United States in the men's 400m hurdles Monday evening at the National Stadium. Taylor crossed the line with a personal-best 47.25 to claim the gold medal, followed by teammates Kerron Clement (Los Angeles, Calif.) with the silver in 47.98 and Bershawn Jackson (Raleigh, N.C.) with the bronze in 48.06. It was the first multiple-medal finish in the event for the U.S. since taking gold and bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and the first sweep in the event by the Americans since the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. The U.S. is the only country to sweep the medals in the event - 2008 is the fifth time it has been done.
Terrence Trammell a two-time Olympic silver medalist, was unable to finish heat five of the 100-meter hurdles Monday at the National Stadium in Beijing. According to USOC Medical Staff, Trammell suffered a moderate hamstring strain on his left leg. He was barely able to come out of the blocks, clearing the first hurdle and hobbling to a halt with the injury. The 100-meter hurdles was Trammell’s only event of the 2008 Olympic Games.
This knocks out two of the top contenders in the event as China's hope for the gold as 2004 gold medalist Liu Xiang is out with a hamstring injury.
“It was a freakish occurrence, such a freakish occurrence. All day yesterday I felt my hamstring twitch. It never cramped. I went and got treatment, and I hydrated very well. Today in warm-ups I didn’t feel bad at all. When it happened it was such a shock. It was the farthest thing from my mind. On my first run-through I felt good. I just needed to make an adjustment. Then on the second (run-through) it grabbed, and I felt it tightening up. I tried to see if I could just take the first hurdle, but I couldn’t. I felt like I was on the brink of something huge. I did everything I needed to do, and I couldn’t have done anything else. This is truly how it was supposed to be. This definitely answers my question about 2012 in London. You can guarantee I will be there. The only thing for the Davids (Oliver and Payne) to do now is to make the podium and shock the world.”
BEIJING-Tyson Gay failed to qualify for the men’s 100 meter dash final, finishing fifth in his semifinal heat with a time of 10.05 seconds. As a result, there will be no dream 100 final with Gay and Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell. What was hyped as a race to close to call now appears to favor Bolt, who won his semifinal in 9.85. And he still wasn’t anywhere close to pushing his body. Americans Water Dix (9.95) and Darvis Patton (10.03) both advanced to the final.
“I got tight a little bit because I was trying to make it to the finals,” said Gay, who started in lane 9. “I really couldn’t see anybody, then toward the end I saw everybody and I was like, ‘Dang.’ I tried to relax, but I think it was too late.”
Gay said his hamstring felt fine and did not affect his performance, though it did derail his training enough to make a difference. With time to train more and race once or twice before the Olympics, Gay figured there might have been a better result in the semifinal.
BEIJING-There was no suspense for the US entries in Round 1 of the women’s 100 meter dash late last night (ET). All three Americans easily advanced with Torri Edwards leading all qualifiers, clocking 11.26 seconds in the first heat. Muna Lee won Heat 3 in 11.33 and Lauryn Williams finished second in Heat 2 in 11.37. There may be no better runner than Williams when it comes to building momentum through qualifying rounds. She always rises to the occasion and, usually, the medal podium in major championship meets with multiple rounds.
“The rounds make a difference,” said Williams. “You work your kinks out, play it smart and go full force in the final.”
Meanwhile, Muna Lee’s coached asked her to take a slightly different approach running from Lane 8 in Round 1.
“It was hard being in the eighth, but, whatever, it doesn’t really matter what lane you’re in,” said Lee. “Coach just wanted me to go out and blast the beginning and it worked. If I had gone out too easy, it would have been hard to finish. I just wanted to get my body used to [going fast].”
Muna Lee should benefit from more experience than she had competing in the 200 at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“I’m not as nervous as the last time, or as star struck,” said Lee. “Running all the rounds in college, that prepared me for this.”
In other qualifying heats, steeplechaser Anthony Famiglietti advanced to the final running a personal best 8:17.34 and the third fastest time of the day. Americans Josh McAdams (8:33.26) and Billy Nelson (8:36.66) failed to reach the final.
“There is always someone that goes down under the pressure,” said Famiglietti. “In Athens, that was me. This time, I got it out of my way and ran my personal best. I had more in the tank, but I just didn’t want to run the last few meters hard.”
In the first round of the women’s 400, Sanya Richards looked incredibly comfortable running 50.54, which was easily the fastest qualifying time to come out of the 400 heats. In fact, she looked like she might be ready to run 49. Fellow Americans Mary Wineberg qualified in 51.46 by finishing second in Heat 3 and Deedee Trotter qualified on time running 51.41 in the first heat.
“I felt pretty good,” said Richards. “I ran the first 200 well, which is what I wanted to do…I never care about time. I wanted to run as easy as possible. I thought I was right around 51 [seconds]. So, I was surprised to see 50. That’s great. [The next round] is going to be tough.”
In the women’s pole vault, there were some strange demands made during the warm-ups. Chinese officials limited the competitors to one jump at 13-feet-1-inch. Normally, pole vaulters take a handful of practice jumps at a height they choose. For US champion and gold medal contender Jennifer Stuczynski, a normal warm-up consists of five jumps at 15-feet-1-inch. Many of the pole vaulters were thrown off by the warm-up system dictated by the officials, and communication difficulties meant they could not clear up the issue in time.
“It wasn’t pretty, but that’s all it took,” said Stuczynski of the 4.50 meter (14.8 feet) jump that qualified her for the Final. “It started out in warm-ups. They had a strategic way they wanted to run it. It was a battle out there to get warmed up with one bar height and one jump.”
Stuczynski added that she will look at her performance in the qualifier on tape and decide what adjustments she needs to make for the finals to compete with world record holder Elena Isinbaeva. Just how good is Isinabaeva? She had no problem taking a nap before she jumped to qualify with the top mark of 4.60 meters (15.1 feet).
“I had to,” said Isinbaeva of the power nap. “Otherwise, there is nothing to do.”
Finally, while race walkers don’t get much attention, silver medalist in the men’s 20K Jefferson Perez caused a frenzy when he collapsed in the mixed zone. He was taken for medical attention and reappeared looking fine. American Kevin Eastler of Farmington, Maine finished 43 out of 51 in the 20K walk in 1:28.44.
Marblehead's Shalane Flanagan celebrates with the US flag after capturing the bronze in the 10,000 meters. (AP)
BEIJING -- When Marblehead’s Shalane Flanagan crossed the finish line in the women’s 10,000 earlier this morning (ET) at the National Stadium, she thought she won a bronze medal. She knew she had a new American record with a time of 30:22.22, but she wasn’t sure if she had captured third or fourth place. She needed a spectator to confirm it.
Once Flanagan got the word, she was overjoyed.
“I thought maybe I was third but I can’t celebrate until I really know,” said Flanagan. “I feel fortunate to have it all come together.”
To understand the historical accomplishment, you need to look back at past Olympic medal winners. In track races longer than 800 meters, Flanagan’s bronze medal is only the second US Olympic medal since 1984. That goes for men’s and women’s competition. The other medal was Lynn Jenning’s bronze in the 10,000 in 1992.
Shalane Flanagan (Marblehead, Mass.) won the bronze medal in the women's 10,000m run, competed Friday night in Beijing's National Stadium. Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia earned the gold medal with an Olympic record time of 29:54.66. Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey claimed the silver in 29:56.34. Flanagan's time of 30:22.22 sets the American record. Americans Kara Goucher (Duluth, Minn.) placed 10th 30:55.16 and Amy Begley-Yoder (Beaverton, Ore.) was 26th in a time of 32:38.28.
BEIJING -- Trying to avoid reporters’ questions after the second round of the men’s 100, Tyson Gay hurdled over a three-and-a-half-foot high barrier in the media mixed zone. Not exactly what you expect from a sprinter returning from a hamstring strain. A representative from USA track and field chased after Gay and compelled him to make a few comments.
“I feel pretty good,” said Gay, after advancing to the men’s 100 semifinals tomorrow with a time of 10.09 seconds. “I felt pretty relaxed. I just wanted to make it through.”
Gay was actually the third fastest American qualifier in the second round. Darvis Patton led the US contingent, clocking 10.04. Walter Dix followed in 10.08. Patton’s fast time came in the fastest heat of the second round with Usain Bolt leading the way in 9.92.
Despite a typically awkward start, Bolt was clear of the field about 30 meters into the race. And he looked like he was jogging for the final 20 meters. If Bolt wasn’t the clear-cut favorite entering the race, he certainly earned that distinction after Round 2. He also seems ready to set another world record. Bolt’s countryman Asafa Powell finished his heat easily with a time of 10.02.
The Jamaicans walked through the media mixed zone together, but they did not talk to reporters. Instead, the two of them smiled and joked with each other, generally appearing laid-back and happy with their performances. Bolt walked through the mixed zone barefoot and it was hard not to notice that the spike plate on the bottom of his shoes was a shiny gold. Obviously, Puma designed the shoes that way on purpose. …
All three American entrants in the men’s 1,500 meter race made the semifinals. Gold-medal contender Bernard Lagat finished fourth in Heat 2 with a time of 3 minutes 41.98 second. It was the second-slowest of the semifinal qualifying times, which is just want Lagat planned.
“I just wanted to make sure that I have enough for the semifinal,” said Lagat. “I did what I wanted to do. Top five. Nothing crazy.”
Lopez Lomong qualified in 3:36.70 and Leonel Manzano finished in 3:36.67.
BEIJING -- At a press conference, Tyson Gay said he was fully recovered from a left hamstring strain suffered in July at the US track and field trials. He is ready to run in the men’s 100 meter competition, which starts with qualifying on Friday and continues with the finals on Saturday at the National Stadium. Gay is a medal favorite in the event along with Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt.
“The hamstring is 100 percent now,” said Gay. “It took about four weeks to get fully recovered and things like that. But I’ve basically been getting rehab on it and doing some light training during the process.”
When asked if had any concern about not racing since suffering the injury, Gay added: “Not at all. I’d rather be 100 percent coming to the Olympics, than risk being 85 percent and going to a meet just to see where I’m at. I had a few chances in practice to see where I’m at and that gave me a confidence booster.”
Dara Torres of the U.S. attends practice at the National Aquatics Centre. (Reuters)
Before departing for Beijing, the Globe's John Powers previewed the US Track & Field and Swimming teams, both of which are expected to bring home plenty of gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
Look for contributions from the following Globe Staffers in Beijing:
- John Powers
- Shira Springer
- Bob Ryan
- Marc J. Spears
- Gregory Lee
- Scott LaPierre
- Patricia Wen