LOS ANGELES, August 6, 2012 – Jenn Suhr made her early jumps count and that was good enough to win her the gold medal in the pole vault tonight in London, on a good night for the U.S.
Of special note was 400 m hurdler Michael Tinsley, who proved his win at the Olympic Trials was no fluke, winning a silver in a lifetime best of 47.91. In addition, the U.S. women’s sprint corps breezed through their heats and semis, setting up a major medal haul later in the week.
Even with a goose egg in the men’s 400 m, the combined American team has nearly doubled the score (99-55) over second-place Ethiopia after four of the nine days of competition on the track. Tomorrow should be a good day, with finals in the men’s high jump, women’s 100 m hurdles and men’s 1,500 meters.
[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.]
All three U.S. women in the 1500 m, 100 m hurdles, 400 m hurdles and 200 m made it through their heats/semis without incident.
The Russians took another hit in the women’s 400 m hurdles, as Irina Davydova, tipped for fourth, did not qualify out of the semifinals. Natalya Antyukh, however, looked like the favorite with the fastest qualifier (53.33), while American Lashinda Demus won her semi in 54.08.
Jamaica’s defending Olympic 400 m hurdles champ Melaine Walker was a shocking non-qualifier, finishing sixth in semi three; she was considered – along with Antyukh and Demus – to be the class of the field.
Among the men, Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon ripped through the 800 m heats in good style, but Khadevis Robinson didn’t make it. No American men made the discus final, with Jason Young was the best thrower at just 204-0 (62.18 m); it took 208-6 (63.55 m) to advance.
Given the U.S. weakness in the javelin, it is likely that American men will have only one finalist – Kibwe Johnson (9th in the hammer) – among the three long-throw events, now the worst sector of American men’s track & field.
Women’s Pole Vault:
Jenn Suhr cleared 15-7 (4.75 m) in what appeared to be a crosswind-battered competition, but managed to outlast Yarisley Silva of Cuba, who cleared the same height. Suhr was doped for second, so she picks up an extra point for the U.S.
Russia’s Yelena Isinbaeva settled for bronze, as the Russian fortunes continued to sag in this meet; that’s a loss of two more points vs. the dope sheet.
New Zealand’s Valerie Adams saw her 24-meet win streak end, but the final-round dramatics belonged to Yevgeniya Kolodko of Russia, who lept into third place for a bronze (as T&FN predicted).
Even with the loss of the bronze, China’s Lijiao Gong, Ling Li and Xiangrong Liu earned 11 points (+7 vs. the form chart) with a 4-5-7 finish. American Michelle Carter earned three points for sixth, but the U.S. lost four points against the dope as Jillian Camarena-Williams didn’t make it out of qualifying.
Men’s 400 m Hurdles:
Astonishing win for the old USC Trojan Felix Sanchez, who won in Athens in 2004 and now in 2012, matching Edwin Moses (1976, 1984) and Angelo Taylor with non-consecutive wins (2000, 2008). Only Glenn Davis of the U.S. won consecutive titles, in 1956 and 1960 (thanks to George Grenier for the correction!).
Sanchez’s time was 47.63; those of us of a certain age remember Moses, who ran a then-world record 47.63 . . . in 1976. American silver medalist Michael Tinsley becomes the =14th performer all-time U.S. with a lifetime best (first since 2007!) of 47.91.
The U.S. was expected to score 12 points in the event and scored exactly that.
Yuliya Zaripova of Russia won as predicted, but even so the Russians lost a point to the dope sheet as defending champ Gulnara Galkina did not finish. Ethiopia picked up three points against the form chart with a 3-5-6 finish, and American Emma Coburn just missed picking up a point in ninth.
Men’s 400 m:
Chalk up a zero for the U.S. for the first time in Olympic history; 12 points were expected.
However, the event had a distinctly U.S. flavor if you count in the six finalists (out of eight) who attended American colleges:
Jon and Kevin Borlee, Belgium (Florida State);
Chris Brown, Bahamas (Norfolk State);
Lalonde Gordon, Trinidad (Mohawk Valley CC);
Kirani James, Grenada (Alabama);
Demetrius Pinder, Bahamas (Texas A&M).
Only two finalists: Luquelin Santos (Dominican Republic) and Steven Solomon (Australia) did not compete as U.S. collegians.
(Credit to Tom Lewis of the USTFCCCA for his great work in compiling lists of Olympic tracksters with U.S. collegiate ties; check the site for more great stats.)
Where are we?
Men: After four days and with 9 of 24 events scored, the U.S. continues to pile up the points, standing at 55 against 24 for the Brits, 22 for Kenya, 19 for China and 18 for Jamaica. The Americans are down a little against the dope sheet (-5), but the Russians are mired in a major slump at -31!
The U.S. men have five medals, just as projected at this point, with no other country with more than two.
Women: After four days and with 10 of 23 events scored, the top teams are going in different directions: Russia 44 (but -28 against the form charts), U.S. 44 (only -3), Ethiopia 38 (+13) and Kenya 30 (-15). The winner, expected to be the Russians, is too close to call.
The U.S. women have four medals, one more than expected at this point, but trails Russia – with three medals today – which has six (as projected).
Overall: The U.S. has a combined total of 99 points, well ahead of Ethiopia (55), Kenya (52) and Britain and Russia (48 each).
More each day after the close of competition; stay tuned!
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