LOS ANGELES, August 5, 2012 – A great day of running for Jamaica and a Jamaican-born runner who runs for the U.S., Sanya Richards-Ross.
Usain Bolt’s win secures his place as one of the great sprinters of all time, but he had to work for his gold medal this time, as opposed to his cakewalk in Beijing. And American Justin Gatlin completed a remarkable comeback by becoming only the 10th athlete (including Bolt) to win two Olympic medals in the 100 meters (no, I don’t count Archie Hahn’s win in 1906).
In the team scoring, the U.S. team continues to pile up a lead, but the men will need it as no American will compete in the 400-meter final, the first time the U.S. won’t win a medal in a Games it competed in since 1920, and the first time ever it won’t have a finalist on the starting line in this event.
For those who want to know if I am completely insane, no, I didn’t stay up until 3 a.m. Pacific to watch the women’s marathon . . . and see the fourth-place finisher in the 2010 Honda L.A. Marathon become Olympic champion!
[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.
Thanks to John Blackburn for spotting an error in the women’s team projections total, thanks to a bad formula, now corrected!]
Evening/Men’s 100 m: If anyone actually cares, Justin Gatlin’s 9.82 is the second-fastest time in Olympic history and fastest ever in a non-final round. Everyone who was supposed to make it through is in the final.
Evening/Men’s 1500 m:
Three Kenyans, two Americans and one Ethiopian in the final, as expected. This is a big chance for U.S. points, as they are doped for zilch.
Evening/Men’s 400 m:
What has been the most dependable American stronghold on the track in recent years is now a total debacle. LaShawn Merritt went out in the heats and both Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum failed to qualify for the finals. Score zero for the U.S. where 12 points were projected.
It’s the first time since 1920 that the U.S. won’t win a medal in this event (excepting the boycott year of 1980) and an American had won seven Olympic golds in a row and 12 of the last 13 Games (ignoring 1980), going back to Charlie Jenkins in 1956.
As far as I can research, this will be the first Games in which the U.S. has competed that it has not had a 400 m finalist. All three Americans were disqualified or protested the London 1908 race, but there were three Americans on the line when the gun went off. Not this time.
And let’s not even think about the 4×400 m relay . . .
Tiki Gelana’s win was certainly not expected, but continues a strong meet for the Ethiopians. The U.S. was doped for five points, but Shalane Flanahan and Kara Goucher were out of the medals and out of the scoring in 10th and 11th place, respectively. Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova was picked for silver, but didn’t finish; Tatyana Arkhipova covered nicely, however, to win bronze. Even so, the Russians lost a point to the dope sheet.
Women’s Triple Jump:
More disappointment for the Russians, doped for five points in fourth, but only able to score an eighth-place finish by Victoria Valyukevich (one point). Surprise scorers of five points in sixth and seventh were the Jamaican duo of Kim Williams and Trecia Smith, where they were not expected to score.
More Russian tears: expected to score nine points, Kirill Ikonnikov got fifth (four points) and that was it. T&FN had American Kibwe Johnson ninth and he finished . . . ninth.
Women’s 400 m:
Sanya Richards-Ross led a U.S. renaissance in the event, passing a game Dee Dee Trotter in the final meters to win gold and bronze, with Francena McCorory seventh for 16 points, +7 against the dope sheet!
Russia’s Antonina Krivoshapka looked like a medalist coming around the final turn, but faded to sixth, capping a major loss of points – 8 – in the event, continuing a growing pattern of underachievement on the track so far.
Well, the Kenyans didn’t sweep, going gold-bronze and losing three points to the dope sheet. The American duo of Evan Jager and Donn Cabral showed some inexperience – no real surprise there – but finished 6-8 for four points, +3 against the dope sheet and hope for a bright future in this event for the U.S.
Men’s 100 m:
Bolt and Blake were best, but even so the Jamaicans lost points on the dope sheet with a 1-2-8 finish for 16 points vs. 19 on the projections. The American trio ran 9.79 (Gatlin, PR), 9.80 (Gay, season best) and 9.88 (Bailey, =PR) and scored 15 points, +2 against the dope sheet.
Bolt’s 9.63 is an Olympic record and Blake equaled his PR of 9.75, but Gatlin now joins Maurice Greene as the second-fastest American ever (9.79); Gay ran his eighth 100 meters at 9.80 or better, the most in American history and tied with Asafa Powell as second only to Bolt (10). Pretty impressive.
It’s the fourth straight Olympics in which U.S. men have won a medal, after getting shut out in Atlanta.
Where are we?
Men: After three days and with 7 of 24 events scored, the U.S. is already running away with the team scoring with 43 points (+7 vs. the dope sheet), compared to 22 for Kenya and 19 each for China and Great Britain.
The U.S. men have four medals, with no other country with more than two.
Women: After three days and with 7 of 23 events scored, the American women are having a good meet with 33 points, leading Ethiopia and Kenya (25 each), with Jamaica and Russia (24) tied for fourth.
Looking at the dope sheet, however, Russia is -19 from its expected three-day total and even the Kenyans are -11. The host Brits are showing well, at +9 against the dope and Ethiopia is +10 so far. The U.S. is even against the projections at 33.
The U.S. women have four medals, one mor than expected at this time (thanks, Dee Dee), and no other women’s team has more than two medals.
More each day after the close of competition; stay tuned!
(You can stay current with Rich’s technology, sports and Olympic commentaries by following him at www.twitter.com/RichPerelman.)