LOS ANGELES, August 7, 2012 – What could be the start of an onslaught of U.S. track & field medals started on a rainy Tuesday in London, with American medals in the men’s 1,500 m and high jump and two medals in the women’s 100 m hurdles.
Who would have taken odds on the U.S. outscoring Ethiopia and Kenya 12-3-2 in the men’s 1,500? After five of the nine days on the track, the American points lead is now 77-29 over Britain in the men (U.S.: +11 vs. the dope) and 62-44 over Russia, against the projected score (at this point) of 64-73. Combined, the Americans are up, 139-58 over Ethiopia and have a total of 13 medals (+1) to seven for the Russians.
The schedule is also promising for tomorrow, with U.S. scoring opportunities in the women’s long jump, 400 m hurdles and 200 m, and the men’s 110 m hurdles. And the decathlon, with the U.S. men favored for gold-silver, also starts.
One more thing: I’m not an NBC basher, as the track is live online, but today tried my patience. Irritating 15-second commercials were inserted between the introduction of competitors and the start of both the second and third semis of the women’s 200 meters. If there had been a false start, it would have been missed. No need for that; there was plenty of down time to show the same Chevrolet commercial over and over again.
[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.]
China suffered a major loss with Xiang Liu’s failure to qualify in the 100 m hurdles in the morning; he had been picked for silver and continues his Olympic miseries after his injury-fueled withdrawal in 2008.
American hearts almost stopped as Brittney Reese fouled on her first two long jumps in qualifying, but she managed 21-6 3/4 on her final attempt to get through to the final with teammate Janay DeLoach.
In the 800 m, Nick Symmonds and Duane Solomon ran 1:44.87 and 1:44.93 and only made it in as the fastest non-auto qualifiers, but they’ll take it. Symmonds uncharacteristically ran near the front to keep contact during his semi, but Solomon ran from the front as usual and was passed in the final straightaway to land in third.
In the women’s 200 m, all three Americans made it through, but Allyson Felix’s 22.31 looked almost effortless in semi two after an indifferent start, and much better than Veronica Campbell-Brown’s 22.32 in semi one. Sanya Richards-Ross and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also looked good in the third semi, with R-R winning in 22.31.
Men’s High Jump:
T&FN stamped Russia’s Ivan Ukhov as the favorite and he won easily, but even so the luckless Russians fell back on the dope sheet, as Andrey Silnov finished 12th and Aleksandr Shustov didn’t qualify, a loss of 10 points against the form chart.
Defending world champion Jesse Williams just didn’t have it, going out at 7-6, but Jamie Nieto and Erik Kynard were terrific, both clearing 7-6 and Kynard clearing 7-7 3/4 for silver. Score 10 points for the U.S., +4 against the dope.
This event was not significant in the team scoring, but the final was a terrific confrontation between Germany’s all-conquering Robert Harting and Iranian Ehsan Hadadi. It looked like Hadidi won the gold with a magnificent throw in the fifth round, but his heel was shown to have touched the top of the circle and was properly called a foul.
Women’s 100 m Hurdles:
Brilliant running by all three Americans, UCLA alum Dawn Harper (silver), Kellie Wells (bronze) and Lolo Jones (fourth), with Harper barely losing to Australia’s Sally Pearson at the tape.
Pearson got out best and Wells was chasing, but Harper was fastest over the last three hurdles and lost by just 0.01. The U.S. picked up one point against the dope sheet in this race.
Men’s 1,500 m:
After last year’s surprise World Champs bronze from Matthew Centrowitz, could he do it again? How could he lose to Leo Manzano in the Trials? Well, they ran near-perfect races to finish second (Manzano) and fourth (Centrowitz) and score an unexpected 12 points for the U.S. and grab a medal almost no one expected.
Given their finishing speed, Centrowitz and Manzano could have been expected to challenge off a slow pace, but the 3:34.08-3:34.79-3:35.13-3:35.17 final times were pretty quick. A great pick-up for the U.S., which is certainly the world’s no. 3 distance nation and no. 1 outside Africa.
Where are we?
Men: After five days and with 12 of 24 events scored, the U.S. has stormed to a commanding lead, scoring 77 points (+11) against 29 for Britain (+1) and 24 for Kenya, which is having a bad meet, down 23 from the form charts. Don’t tell that to the Russians, who are now -41 on the men’s side.
The U.S. men now have seven medals, +1 against the dope and have made up for the failure in the 400 m; the British are next best with three.
Women: After five days and with 11 of 23 events scored, the U.S. women now lead Russia, 62-44, where the projected score had been Russia 73, U.S. 64 at this point. The U.S. now has a real shot to be the top women’s team – on points – in Olympic competition for the first time since 1968 (in a non-boycotted Games).
The U.S. and Russian women have both won six medals in total, as expected for the Russians and +1 for the U.S.
Overall: The U.S. has a combined total of 139 points, well ahead of Ethiopia (58) and Russia (56).
[Some sharp-eyed readers have noted that our team scores for Britain and Germany are different than shown by the IAAF. This is due to the women’s pole vault, which had a three-way tie for sixth, including a British and German vaulter. Since all three women were sixth, the IAAF’s computerized scoring system gave each three points, instead of combining the points for places 6-7-8 and dividing them evenly – two points each – which is what we show. Same situation in the men’s high jump, where Rob Grabarz of Britain finished in a three-way for third.]
More each day after the close of competition; stay tuned!
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