Sun, Jun 24, 2012 - Page 18 News List

US sprinters make winning starts to their Games bids

AFP, EUGENE, OREGON

Carmelita Jeter crosses the finish line first in the women’s 100m qualifying heat at the US’ Olympic trials on Friday in Eugene, Oregon.

Photo: EPA

World 100m champion Carmelita Jeter and sprint stars Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix made winning starts to London Games double bids on Friday at the US Olympic track and field trials.

Ashton Eaton, last year’s runner-up at the world championships in the decathlon, outclassed reigning world champion Trey Hardee and 2008 Olympic champion Bryan Clay, winning four of the first five events.

The athletes performed in cold and showery conditions that left puddles on the track in a meet where only the top three in each final advance to next month’s London Olympics.

“When you are ready, you are ready, no matter what the conditions,” Richards-Ross said after winning her 400m qualifying heat in 51.69 seconds.

“I’m excited to start the journey to my third Olympic Games,” she said.

Richards-Ross, the Jamaican-born 2009 world 400m champion who became a US citizen in 2002, has the best 200m and 400m times in the world this year and ranked third-fastest among 16 qualifiers for yesterday’s 400m semi-finals.

In the opening round of the women’s 100m, Jeter won her heat in 11.2 seconds, well off the season’s world best of 10.81 seconds she set last month in Jamaica.

Felix, a two-time Olympic 200m runner-up who like Jeter is trying to qualify for London in both the 100m and 200m, won her heat in a wind-aided 11.19 seconds.

In the decathlon, Eaton won the 100m in 10.21 seconds, the long jump with a leap of 8.21m, the high jump by clearing 2.05m and the 400m in 46.70 to lead after day one with 4,728 points, 322 ahead of Hardee, with Clay third on 4,252.

The event was scheduled to conclude yesterday with the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500m.

Hardee, who won the shot put with a heave of 15.72m, said he felt good about his start: “I’m in one piece. Just a little tired.”

The first two Olympic qualifying finals at Hayward Field were staged in the men’s and women’s 10,000m, with favored Galen Rupp claiming the men’s crown in 27 minutes, 25.33 seconds and Amy Hastings taking an emotional women’s win in 31 minutes, 58.36 seconds.

Hastings placed fourth in the US Olympic marathon trials earlier this year, the fastest finisher not to earn a spot in London in that race at Houston.

Kellie Wells led 21 semi-final qualifiers in the women’s 100m hurdles, while Lolo Jones was 15th overall in 13.01 seconds with 2004 Olympic champion Joanna Hayes, making a comeback after having a baby, just behind her in 13.06 seconds.

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