US CHAMPS: Day3 - Gatlin's 100, Coach Hart's double


Gatlin wins 100m but Hart’s athletes steal the day - 2005 USATF, Day Three
Sunday 26 June 2005
Carson, California, USA - The biggest winner on this exciting third day of the USATF championships (Sat 25) must surely be Clyde Hart, Michael Johnson’s coach, who added two more 400m national championships to the long list of successes achieved by his athletes.

Not only did Jeremy Wariner and Darold Williamson finish 1-2 in the men’s 400m in excellent times, but his newest charge, Sanya Richards, won the women’s 400 in even more convincing fashion.

Sanya Richards - USATF - 49.29 PB
(Getty Images)

Wariner makes it look easy

Just as in last year’s Olympic Trials and the Games proper, Wariner again made it look easy yesterday. Wariner stumbled coming out of the blocks, and arrived at 200 metres in a reported 21.6, slightly slower than called for in Hart’s schedule. Wariner made it up by running the curve extra hard and emerged the leader at 300, a couple of metres up on LaShawn Merritt and Derrick Brew, with Williamson well back in fourth.

Williamson came on hard to pass Merritt and Brew just metres from the finish, while Andrew Rock charged up on the outside to take third. The times speak for themselves: Wariner, 44.20; Williamson, 44.62; Rock, 44.70; Merritt, 44.73; Brew, 45.01.

Justin Gatlin takes dash - Greene pulls up, and Crawford and Scott fight it out
(Getty Images)

Williamson best described the result: “Jeremy wins the important ones. I’ve beaten him all year, but today he put his race together and executed. I didn’t work my 200-300 curve and he made his up on that curve. It’s all about putting together the 44 seconds that we run. If he puts it together, he wins. If I put it together, I win.”

Richards has arrived

Sanya Richards won USATF and the NCAA in 2003 at 18, and was marked as The Coming Thing. Today she emerged as The Thing: she has arrived. Her post-Olympic coaching switch to Hart was motivated as much by University of Texas coach Beverly Kearney’s need to concentrate on her college team as by discontent; nonetheless, Hart’s highly disciplined approach (vide Michael Johnson), fit Richards’ needs perfectly.

MeLisa Barber - women’s 100m winner at USATF
(Getty Images)

Like Wariner, she worked the curve hard, came into the homestretch clearly in front, and stayed there, finishing strongly in 49.28, a huge PB. DeDe Trotter came up fast to take second in 49.88(PB), but really made no dent on Richards’ margin. NCAA champion Monique Henderson also PB’d taking third in 49.96.

Richards said: “Three under 50 seconds. What more could you ask for?”

Reinstated Gatlin is supreme

LaShinda Demus takes the women’s 400m Hurdles title at USATF champs
(Getty Images)

In the men’s 100, Justin Gatlin took advantage of his reinstatement of yesterday to win the final by a metre from Shawn Crawford and Leonard Scott. Gatlin’s time, 10.08, was achieved despite a headwind of 2.3 m/s.

Gatlin definitely has another gear; at 60m he was fourth behind Maurice Greene, Crawford, and Scott. Then Greene’s left hamstring betrayed him and he crow hopped out of contention. Just as suddenly, Gatlin simply took off, and soon he was past the other two to win going away. That’s what ‘another gear’ can do for a sprinter who has it.

Greene said, “I had a good start. I was just going to start to accelerate and I felt my hamstring pop. There’s nothing you can do about it.”


Erin Gilreath (USA)
(Kirby Lee)

Barber cuts through the opposition in women’s 100m

After MeLisa Barber posted a windy (+3.0) 10.87 winning her semi, the suspicion grew that she would win the final. And she did, leading all the way. This time, the wind was against her (-1.6) and she ran 11.10, but the margin was impressive: Muna Lee was second in 11.28, and Olympic silver medalist Lauryn Williams was third in 11.29.

Alan Webb demonstrated his ability to beat American 1500m runners at any kind of race, winning with a fast final 200m off a moderate pace (3:41.97). In the mad dash of that last 200, Olympian Charlie Gruber got boxed and ended up fifth.

Treniere Clement, who trains with Webb in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., raced smartly to win the women’s 1500 in 4:06.73, just outside the Worlds “A” standard of 4:05.80.

Alan Webb - USATF
(Getty Images)

Demus clocks 53.35

LaShinda Demus won the women’s 400m Hurdles in a good 53.35, while 2004 NCAA and Olympic Trials winner Sheena Johnson faded to fourth. Fifth was Kim Batten, 1995 World Champion and still American record holder (52.61) was fifth in the second year of her comeback.

American record and world lead Hammer mark

In the field events, Erin Gilreath set an American record in winning the women’s Hammer Throw with 73.87, and Stacy Dragila won her ninth U.S. outdoor Pole Vault championship with a 4.50 clearance, as vaulters had difficulties with the wind.

In the men’s Triple Jump, only Walter Davis could master the tricky, shifting winds well enough to better 17m. His 17.15 fourth-round winner was one of three tries longer than runner-up Kenta Bell’s best jump of 16.82.

The men’s 3000m steeplechase was won handily by Daniel Lincoln in 8:17.2, and Teresa Vaill, who continues to improve at age 42, won her second straight national championship with a PB 1:33:28.15 in the women’s 20 km walk.

James Dunaway for the IAAF

Sports Illustrated, on the men’s 100m

Emotional Greene denied

Seventy meters into the final of men’s 100 meters on Saturday, Maurice Greene was in a virtual dead heat with training partner Leonard Scott. Gatlin and Shawn Crawford were closing fast, but it seemed reasonable to assume that the remarkable Greene, a month shy of his 31st birthday, possessor of more sub-10-second 100s (52) than any man in history, possessor of more sub-9.90-second 100s (10), fighter in more high-level sprint battles than any active man, was headed for his fifth trip to the world championships.

Then his left hamstring betrayed him. Greene pulled up, lurching backward with his upper body in an attempt to stop his body, and then fell to the track in pain. "I felt like I was making my move,’’ Greene would say later. "I felt like I could have won it. Just as I started to make my move, my hamstring popped.’’

There were tears in Greene’s eyes as he spoke. It wasn’t just the injury, he said. "It’s the not going to Helsinki,’’ he said. "I can deal with injuries. I wanted to go and get my world championship title back.’’ (Greene won the worlds in 97, 99 and 2001 before getting hurt in the 2003 final in Paris).

A year ago, Michael Johnson told me that Greene was the best 100-meter runner in history, "hands down.’’ Carl Lewis might argue, but Greene is definitely in the discussion. The numbers cited above are impressive, as are his three world titles. He cruised to the Olympic 100 gold in Sydney in 2000 (and then stopped to get McDonald’s food afterward) and got a bronze in Athens, running 9.87 seconds in the fastest 100-meter race in history.

Given the number of hardcore 100s Greene has contested, given the number of times he’s started, sprinted and stopped, it’s stunning that he’s lasted long enough to take on the Gatlin Generation.

Something more: Greene has been a tireless promoter of his sport. Yes, he’s promoted himself along the way, but always with good humor and grace. A couple of weeks ago, I talked with British track meet promoter Ian Stewart, a former Olympian. Stewart complained about the problems he’s had through the years with some stars who sign "promotional contracts’’ with his meets and then don’t promote anything. "Maurice Greene signs a contract and he lives up to it,’’ Stewart told me. "He’ll come over and promote a July meet in November and he’ll do every interview you ask him to do. He’s been tremendous for us at a time when the sport really needs that.’’

Greene might come back. Linford Christie and Frankie Fredericks were running fast at 35, Lewis at 34. This is not yet the time for a career obituary. But it’s closer than ever. So just a reminder: When that time does come, Greene deserves a good one.

Webb improvises
In the men’s 1,500 meters, Alan Webb ad-libbed a lesson in race tactics. You’ll remember that last summer Webb earned his first Olympic berth by winning the Trials 1,500 in a tour de force, breaking the race open with nearly two laps remaining and winning by a wide margin. He was the best man in the race and he ran like it.

In Athens, he was eliminated in the opening round when he ran like a tactical rookie, getting caught in a series of starts and stops that left him without a useful kick. He vowed not to let it happen again.

On Saturday, Webb planned to blow the race open relatively early. "He was going to move on the lap after two-to-go,’’ said his coach, Scott Raczko. Except that Webb got tangled up in early traffic and couldn’t easily make a big push. "I went in with a specific race plan, then 300 meters in I was 10 yards back, so I completely changed the plan,’’ Webb said.

He gradually worked his way to the front and then unfurled a solid, conventional 200-meter kick, holding off a small army of pursuers at the line in a tactical 3:41.97 seconds. He did, however, run his last lap in 54.7 seconds. "I thought he did some pretty good racing in there,’’ Raczko said. "He did some good tactical things that he needed to work on and that he’ll need in the future. All good stuff.’’

Good practice for Helsinki. Of course, everybody in Helsinki will be capable of finishing in 54-point or much faster. But it’s a start and let’s not forget, Webb is still an international novice in many ways. In the 1,500, a win is a win and every race is another piece of experience.

CARSON, Californya - The young burst through to victory and one of the greatest sprinters of the past decade pulled up lame on an emotional afternoon at the U.S. track and field championships Saturday.

Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin won the 100 meters in a stiff head wind and Maurice Greene went down with a hamstring injury 30 meters from the finish.

Another winner of Olympic gold, Jeremy Wariner, surged ahead of close friend Darold Williamson to win an exceedingly fast 400.

The 21-year-old Texan won in 44.20 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year. Williamson, the NCAA champion and Wariner’s former Baylor teammate, was second in 44.62. Andrew Rock came on at the finish to edge 19-year-old LaShawn Merritt for third and the final spot on the U.S. team. Rock ran 44.70, Merritt 44.73.

Gatlin, who gained a reprieve after being disqualified for a false start in the first round Friday, battled the wind for a victory in 10.08. Shawn Crawford was second in 10.17 and Leonard Scott third in 10.18.

Greene, a month shy of his 31st birthday, was in contention but pulled up with an obvious left hamstring injury. He hopped on his right leg, then fell to the track. The three-time world 100 champion, 2000 gold medalist and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist had to be helped off the track, deprived of a shot at a fourth world crown.

“It’s not going to Helsinki,” said Greene, in tears after the race. “I wanted to get my world championship title back. That hurts the most.”

Greene gave a long hug to a sobbing Scott, his training partner.

“I taught him everything I know,” Greene said. Scott whispered, “I love you man.”

The usually boastful and smiling Greene was devastated.

“I felt I got off to a good start, and as I started accelerating, I felt my hamstring pop,” Greene said. “You can never tell how bad it is until the next day. I knew I was in a good position. I felt I could have won it.”

Wariner won, but knew he could have run faster.

“I stumbled out of the blocks, and that probably knocked a couple of tenths off,” he said.

The speed events were center stage on Day 3 of the four-day competition in sunny, breezy conditions at Home Depot Center. The top three finishers in each event make the U.S. team for the world championships Aug. 6-14 in Helsinki, providing they meet the world qualifying standards.

It was a big day for the emerging young stars of the sport.

Sanya Richards, just 20, led three runners under 50 seconds in the women’s 400. Richards’ winning time of 49.28 was a meet record and the world’s fastest time this year by more than a half-second. She was followed by Dee Dee Trotter at 49.88 and Monique Henderson at 49.96.

“With three women under 50, what more can you ask for?” Richards said. “With the three of us being only 20, 21 (actually Trotter and Henderson are 22), the sky is the limit.”

Me’Lisa Barber, also running into a head wind, cruised ahead of the competition to win the women’s 100 in 11.10. Conspicuously absent from the women’s 100 was Marion Jones. Once the charismatic star of U.S. track, Jones walked off the track at the starting blocks before Friday’s first round. Her agent Charles Wells said she had a hip flexor injury.

Barber, 24, has bolted from relative obscurity to international prominence this year.

Muna Lee was second in 11.28, with Olympic silver medalist Lauryn Williams barely making the U.S. team in third at 11.29. Barber had run a sizzling, wind-aided 10.87 in the semifinals.

Lashinda Demus, 22, won the 400 hurdles in a personal-best 53.35, second-fastest in the world this year.

“I know what I’m capable of, and that’s medaling at the worlds,” Demus said.

Alan Webb, 22, repeated as 1,500 champion, edging his training partner Christopher Lukezic. Webb ran 3:41.97, Lukezic 3:42.06.

One old-timer came through.

Stacy Dragila won her 17th U.S. pole vault championship, ninth outdoors, clearing 14 feet, 71/4 inches. The 34-year-old Dragila, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist, was more than a foot below her career best of 15-10 set last year. Recovering from an ankle injury, Dragila missed two tries at her first height of 13-91/4.

“I was just happy I got off the ground and made some bars,” she said. “I relied on my past experience.”

Crawford ran 9.99 in his 100 semifinal heat. Only new world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica has run faster.

Gatlin almost was an early casualty in the 100. He was disqualified by a false start Friday, but filed a protest and was reinstated when meet referee Ed Gorman ruled that motion by the runner next to him could have caused Gatlin’s early start, which was barely ahead of the allowable standard.

Early Saturday, Teresa Vaill shattered the American record by more than five minutes in the 20-kilometer walk, winning in 1:33.28. The old mark was 1:38.19, set by Danielle Kirk in 2000.

Wow! I had no idea that Sanya Richards was training with Coach Hart.

Wariner was very impressive. He runs the race with total confidence and composure. Look at his splits, 21.6/22.6, very similar to MJ, and rigth out of Hart’s book. Hard to believe that he’s just 21.