LOS ANGELES, August 4, 2012 – A memorable day for Great Britain, with wins from Mo Farah in the men’s 10,000 m (expected), Greg Rutherford in the long jump (what?) and Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon.
The U.S. had a mixed day, with only a silver in the women’s 100 from Carmelita Jeter but a brilliant silver in the men’s 10,000 from Galen Rupp and a surprise bronze from Will Claye in the long jump. Downer: LaShawn Merritt was not able to go in the men’s 400 and is likely out of the 4×400 m relay.
But all three of the men’s 400 m hurdles and women’s 400 m runners, and two women’s steeplers made it through. Tomorrow: the men’s 100, with Jamaica up 1-0 after the women’s century.
[Before we get going, please note (1) we’re using the Track & Field News Olympic previews as our form charts, and (2) we’re using the IAAF’s points-scoring system of 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for eight places.]
The carnage has begun:
Morning/Men’s 400 m: Defending 400 m champ LaShawn Merritt of the U.S. pulled up in the heats and not only didn’t finish (he was picked for second), but told NBC that he’s “probably” out for the 4 x 400 m relay as well. Given the modest results for remaining Americans Tony McQuay (2nd in heat 5) and Bryshon Nellum (2nd in heat 4), it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the U.S. could miss the medals in this event for the first time since 1980 (when the U.S. boycotted) and since 1920 in Games in which it has competed. Oy.
Morning/Women’s Pole Vault: Russia’s Svetlana Feofanova, doped for fifth (4 points) did not qualify in the women’s pole vault. The other favorites made it through.
Evening/Men’s 400 m Hurdles: This is going to be a wild final, with Felix Sanchez (DOM) running the fastest qualifying-round time (47.76) since 1996. All three Americans made it through and British favorite Dai Greene was the last qualifier and will be in a disfavored lane in the final two days from now. Jamaica’s Leford Green made it into the final and will pick up some unexpected points for the green-and-yellow.
Evening/Women’s 100 m: The fastest qualifying rounds since Seoul! Carmelita Jeter’s 10.83 (sf1 – fastest semi ever), Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s 10.85 (sf2) and Veronica Campbell-Brown’s 10.89 (sf1) are 2-3-4 in Olympic qualifying history; Only FloJo (10.62 ‘88) is faster. One casualty for the Jamaicans: Kerron Stewart (11.04 in sf3; only doped for eighth) didn’t make it through; she now holds the record for the fastest mark ever not to make a final.
Evening/Women’s 400 m: All three Americans made it through in excellent form, but only one Russian – Antonina Krivoshapka – made it into the final, albeit with the fastest time of the day (49.81). Three Russians were expected to score 11 points, so they’ll lose ground to the U.S. in this event, which is doped for nine points (1st & 8th).
Men’s 20 km Walk:
Big day for China, with a 1-3-4 finish and two medals. For a team with limited scoring opportunities, the 19 points here is a bonanza, +11 vs. the dope sheet. The Russians, expected to do well (1-3-4), finished with no points as their highest finisher was 37th, with one disqualification and one DNF. Ouch; even Dr. Scholls can’t make that feel better!
A three-point pick-up for Russia, as Darya Pishchalnikova won the silver (projected 4th) and Yanfeng Li won bronze for China as projected. American Stephanie Brown-Trafton lost two points against the chart, in eighth instead of a projected sixth.
Men’s Long Jump:
Gator Nation arisen! The U.S. was doped for nothing and Trials champ Marquise Goodwin ended up a poor 10th. But ex-Florida star Will Claye bounded out to 26-7 3/4 in round four and hung on for a bronze medal! The U.S. had been shut out of the medals in two of the prior three Games.
Greg Rutherford of Great Britain won (8.31 m/27-3 1/4), one place better than predicted and projected winner Mitchell Watt of Australia took a disappointing silver (26-9 1/4). Russia lost five points against the dope sheet as Aleksandr Menkov finished 11th instead of fourth and Germany lost two points as Sebastian Bayer finished fifth instead of third.
The winning mark was the worst since Randy Williams’s win in Munich in 1972 (8.24 m/27-0 1/2).
Glory for Britain’s Jessica Ennis, who won with a national record in front of a delirious home crowd, but a shutout for the U.S. and slightly disappointing results for Russia.
Beijing silver medalist Hyleas Fountain of the U.S. had a terrible second day and fell from medal contention to 27th after a poor long jump and terrible javelin throw, then did not start in the 800 m; she had been doped for sixth (three points). Russia’s Tatyana Chernova was picked for second and had a furious finish in the final two events to earn the bronze while Kristina Savitskaya (picked for 4th) finished seventh; the two scored seven vs. the projected 12. Germany’s Lilli Schwarzkopf, not expected to score at all, was finally allocated the silver after some delay on the IAAF results site.
Men’s 10,000 m:
Stunning 1-2 for Britain’s Mo Farah (1st British medalist in the event since 1984) and American Galen Rupp (1st American medalist since 1964), the first non-African medal-winners in this event since 1988!
Farah was doped to win, but Rupp picked up a point with the silver. Ethiopia was doped for 12 points . . . and scored 12 with three in the top eight, and the bronze medal.
Women’s 100 m:
T&FN nailed it on the head: Jamaica, 1-3, with Carmelita Jeter getting the silver. Small consolation for the U.S.: three places in the top five scored 16 points, a little better than predicted.
Fraser-Pryce’s mark of 10.75 is the second-fastest ever (and fastest winning time ever) in Olympic history. Jeter’s 10.78 equals Fraser-Pryce’s winning mark in Beijing in 2008 and is the fastest-non-winning time in Olympic history, and second-fastest non-winning time ever (10.75 by Kerron Stewart of Jamaica in 2009 is the fastest second-place time ever).
The U.S. hasn’t won this race since 2000 and discounting Marion Jones’s vacated win from that year, since Gail Devers won in 1996. Round one to Jamaica.
Where are we?
Men: After two days and with 4 of 24 events scored, the U.S. leads the team parade with 24 points (+2 vs. the dope), with China at 19 (+11 !!) and Great Britain at 19 (+3). Russia was projected for 26 points thus far and has ZERO.
The U.S. has three medals, one better than projected, thanks to Claye.
Women: After two days and with 4 of 23 events scored, Ethiopia and the U.S. lead Russia and Jamaica, 17-14, with the Americans -2 off the dope sheet and the Russians, -6. The Ethiopian women, off the strong 10,000 m showing, are +4 against the form chart.
No women’s team has more than two medals so far.
The much-awaited men’s 100 semis and finals. Tyson Gay is now sleeping peacefully, perhaps thinking of the 1954 classic “Mr. Sandman,” with updated lyrics:
Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream . . .
Make me the fastest that you’ve ever seen . . .
Give me two strides before the others can motor . . .
And my goal of Olympic gold will be over! Sandman . . .
More each day after the close of competition; stay tuned!
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