Johnson out-leans rivals in 12.99 stunner - USATF Championships, DAY TWO
Saturday 25 June 2005
Carson, California, USA - It was the best of times, it was the worst of times - oh, you know, just another day at the USATF national championships, where almost anything can happen, and pretty much did today.

A sizzling 110m Hurdles battle

To give Dickens his due, we’ll start with the good stuff. In one of the best High Hurdles races anyone ever saw, 34-year-old Allen Johnson squeezed out a victory over Dominique Arnold and Terrence Trammell, 12.99 to 13.01 to 13.02.

Johnson, in Lane 2 after finishing third in his semi, had a one metre lead halfway through the race, but then Trammell and Arnold charged after him. They went over the tenth hurdle three abreast, and Johnson’s lean got him the win by inches.

Johnson said, “I was in Lane 2 away from the action. I didn’t know if I’d won until I saw it on the scoreboard.” It was his tenth visit to Sub-13 Land and of course the fastest in the world this summer.

The oft-injured Arnold, 31, whose PB coming into 2005 was a 13.11 in 2000, said, “I always knew I could run faster than 13.11, but the injuries hindered me. To run that fast now is great.”

Trammell, youngest of the three at 26, said, “To me finishing third is a victory, because I ran 13.02 (his previous PB was 13.09, last year). I got beat by big times, and that’s not bad.”

Alluding to Johnson, he added, “The old man just won’t go away - but I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Jones cites injury

It was the worst of times for Marion Jones. Seeded third thanks to a May 2004 clocking of 11.04 (her best this year is 11.28), she came out on the track for the third heat of the women’s 100 metres wearing black ski-style sweat pants and a bright red, long-sleeved pullover blouse. She took one practice start, running hard and smoothly for about 40 metres, walked back and forth in her lane a couple of times, and then walked off the track, citing a hip injury.

Later her agent, Charlie Wells, told reporters that she was withdrawing from the 200 as well.

Her companion and friend, Tim Montgomery, had earlier told officials that he was withdrawing from the men’s 100m heats, but they offered plenty of drama anyway.

Gatlin is out and then in – men’s 100m

In the first heat, Mark Jelks false started once. On the second start, the recall gun was again firedŠand after a long moment, it was announced that Justin Gatlin had been DQ’d. A large collective sigh - as if a soufflé were collapsing - came from the crowd as 10,000 people realized that the Olympic 100m champion was not going to run in the World Championship 100 metres.

Gatlin said, "I reacted to another athlete in the field, and I guess that wasn’t called and I was off with the first athlete that left the blocks. So I reacted to somebody else and that’s all I can really say.”

“I’m protesting it, and if it comes out my way, hopefully people (will) understand if it doesn’t, then I’ll go on and cross my fingers for the 200 metres.”

But after all five heats had been run, it was announced that Gatlin’s protest had been allowed by the referee, Ed Gorman, a former coach of wide experience. In part, the official statement said that Gorman “studied a print-out of the start of the race and determined that the runner in lane 5 (adjacent to Gatlin in lane 4) was not motionless prior to the start. Therefore, Gatlin’s protest was approved and he will compete in Saturday’s semifinal round.”

Since 18 runners had already been advanced to two 9-lane semis, they will be redrawn into three races, with the first two in each semi plus the next three fastest advancing to the final.

Oh - there were some races, too. The men’s 100 heats were won by DaBryan Blanton, Maurice Greene, Leonard Scott, Walter Dix and Shawn Crawford; the fastest were Crawford, at 10.10, and Greene, at 10.12. Several 100 runners said they thought the starter was holding them in the set position for too long.

More tranquil women’s dash

The women’s 100m was more tranquil, although in addition to Marion Jones, the next-two-most-well-known women - Chryste Gaines and Inger Miller – also withdrew from their respective heats; not, however, as dramatically as Jones.

The most important result was MeLisa Barber’s 11.04 heat victory (a PB) which confirmed her 11.05 win in New York at the Reebok Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Distance race produces Helsinki qualifiers

The distance races were excellent. In the men’s 5000m, Tim Broe, Ian Dobson and Ryan Hall broke away early and shared the lead until Broe kicked the last lap to win in 13:12.76. All three were well under the Helsinki “A” standard of 13:21.50.

Similarly, in the women’s 10,000m, Katie McGregor won with a long sprint to finish in 31:33.82 ahead of Blake Russell and Jen Rhines, with all three under the “A” standard of 31:40. Afterwards, McGregor, who finished fourth in last year’s Olympic Trials 10,000m, said, “Last year we were all struggling to make the (“A”]) standard, but now it seems easy.”

Does this make up for the Olympic Trials? someone asked. “No,” she said, “I wanted to go to Athens.” Next question.

Clay wins from first event to last - the Decathlon

In the field, facing difficult winds that ranged from 0.0m/s to 5.1, three women long jumpers came very close to a three-way tie, Grace Upshaw beating Tianna Madison on the countback after both jumped 6.70m, and Brianna Glenn taking third at 6.68.

The women’s Shot Put was won with two last puts of 18.62 and 18.68 that not only brought Kristen Heaston two PBs and her second national championship, but also surpassed the Helsinki “A” standard of 18.55.

2004 Olympic silver medalist Bryan Clay led the Decathlon from the first step of the 100 metres to the last step of the 1500, scoring 8506 points to runner-up Paul Terek’s 7976. Clay’s Discus Throw of 55.87 which is a Decathlon world best (previous best was 55.00m in 1980).

Williamson and Wariner on song for the final

And finally, in the men’s 400 metre semi-finals, two, and only two, men broke 45 seconds: Darold Williamson won the first semi in 44.83, and his training partner Jeremy Wariner won the second in 44.82!

James Dunaway for the IAAF

Updated: June 25, 2005, 1:37 AM ET
Jones leaves track moments before start of race.

CARSON, Calif. – Marion Jones grabbed her warmup clothes and walked off the track moments before the start of the 100-meter preliminaries at the U.S. track and field championships on Friday, a stunning exit for the woman who once dominated the event.

Moments later, Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin was disqualified from the men’s 100 for a false start. However, Gatlin protested and was reinstated into the semifinals on a referee’s decision.

Robert Galbraith/REUTERS
A hip flexor forced Marion Jones to withdraw from the race, her agent said.
It was a strange evening on Day 2 of the four-day meet that will determine the U.S. team at the world championships in Helsinki on Aug. 6-14.

There was some actual racing, though. Allen Johnson won his fifth U.S. 110-meter hurdle championship in 12.99 seconds, followed by Dominique Arnold in 13.01 and two-time Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell in 13.02.

They were the three fastest times in the world this year, and all three hurderlers were thinking sweep at the worlds.

“Get out the brooms for Helsinki,” Johnson said.

It was the 10th sub-13-second clocking of Johnson’s remarkable career.

“The old man just won’t go away,” Trammell said. “He’s going to run until he just can’t do it anymore.”

Jones was considered a long shot to qualify for the worlds, but she never even gave it a go.

Jones’ agent, Charles Wells, said that she had a hip flexor injury and would not compete in the 200 meters, either. The injury, he said, occurred two weeks ago during training.

“It was something that was very minor,” Wells said. “She worked out and thought she was ready to go. She got to the track and it started bothering her, and she decided not to risk it.”

Jones, a two-time world champion and 2000 Olympic gold medalist in the 100, was once the charismatic darling of the sport, winner of an unprecedented five track medals at the Sydney Games. She took 2003 off to have a baby, and never returned to her old form.

She needed only to have a better time than two of the 20 runners in the preliminaries at the U.S. championships to advance to Saturday’s semifinals.

Jones, running in the third and final heat, took one warmup run out of the blocks, then walked up and down her lane before going to pick up her clothes from a plastic bucket behind her starting blocks. She walked briskly off the track and left Home Depot Center.

“I looked around and she wasn’t there,” said Shalonda Solomon, also running in the heat. "And the officials were like ‘Marion’s gone.’ "

Jones’ abrupt departure came hours after her boyfriend, former world record holder Tim Montgomery, withdrew from the men’s 100, ending his chances of qualifying for Helsinki.

“Considering everything that’s going on, he just can’t concentrate on track and field,” Wells said.

Gatlin, who had talked at length about his budding rivalry with new world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica, was called for a false start based on computer readings of the pressure he puts on the blocks. The field gets one false start, but anyone who has one after that is eliminated.

After Gatlin’s protest, meet referee Ed Gorman ruled that computer printouts showed movement in the lane next to Gatlin, by Mark Jelks, which may have caused Gatlin to flinch and register a false start.

As a result of the ruling, there will be three 100-meter semifinal heats on Saturday.

Bernard Williams was disqualified for a false start in the second heat, but his disqualification stood.

Montgomery had no start at all.

He set the world 100 record at 9.78 seconds in 2002, and the mark stood until Powell ran 9.77 last week.

In competition on Friday, Olympic silver medalist Bryan Clay set a world decathlon discus record en route to winning the 10-event competition.

Clay, the heavy favorite with the absence of injured Tom Pappas, threw 183 feet, 3 inches to break the world mark of 180-5 set by Razvigor Yankov of Bulgaria in 1979. Clay won with 8,506 points, followed by Paul Terek with 7,976 and Phil McMullen with 7,795.

In the deep, talented 400-meter semifinals, Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner won his heat in 44.82 seconds. Wariner’s close friend and ex-Baylor teammate, Darold Williamson, won his heat in 44.83.

Breaux Greer, the American record holder in the javelin who competed at the Athens Olympics despite a torn knee ligament, won his sixth U.S. championship at 259-10.

Tim Broe won the 5,000 in 13:12.76, followed by Ian Dobson at 13:53.33 and Ryan Hall at 13:16.03. All three broke the meet record, set personal bests and met the worlds’ ‘A’ qualifying standard.

Katie McGregor won the women’s 10,000 in 32:51.20. Deena Kastor, the Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon, was fourth. She had been bothered by a stress reaction in her right foot.

Grace Upshaw repeated as U.S. long jump champion. She and Tennessee sophomore Tianna Madison both jumped 21-11¾, but Upshaw had a better No. 2 jump.