Tori Bowie after winning the 200m at the US Olympic Trials (© Getty Images)
For the first time since 2000, the 200m at the Olympic Games will not feature Allyson Felix.
Day 10 of a tumultuous US Olympic Trials closed on Sunday (10) at Eugene, Oregon, with agony for one of athletics’ old stars and ecstasy for one of its new ones. Felix missed the Olympic team in the 200 by .01, while 16-year-old Sydney McLaughlin made it by setting a world U20 record* in the 400-meter hurdles.
Tori Bowie continued her fine season, winning the 200m in 22.25 (-0.6m/s). Deajah Stevens and Jenna Prandini, both products of the hometown University of Oregon, claimed the second and third spots in 22.30 and 22.53, respectively. Prandini tumbled as she crossed the finish line ahead of Felix.
Felix, 30, has often stated the 200m is her favourite event. She won Olympic gold in 2012, silvers in 2008 and 2004, plus three golds in the event at the IAAF World Championships. She was aiming for a 200m/400m double in Rio but will now be confined to the longer event.
“All year I planned for this race, and for it to end here, it’s disappointing,” said Felix, who had been impaired by an ankle injury. “But when I look back and see everything that happened, I still think it’s quite amazing that I was able to make this team. I feel like everything was against me.”
World bronze medallist Bowie could only watch the 2012 Olympics because she was not at the US Trials. The erstwhile long jumper was waylaid by a broken jaw when hit by a bottle at a Mississippi nightclub.
“I try not to think about 2012. I get teary-eyed,” said Bowie, who will contest both sprints in Rio after finishing third in the 100m at the US Trials. “I was sitting at home watching on television. Now I’m here and my dreams have finally become a reality.”
World lead for Muhammad, world U20 record for McLaughlin
Dalilah Muhammad dominated the 400m hurdles to win in 52.88, a US Trials record and the fastest time in the world since the 2013 IAAF World Championships. She earned the silver medal at the 2013 World Championships but said she had personal problems in 2014 and was injured in 2015.
Ashley Spencer, after running fewer than five 400m hurdles races before this year, surprisingly finished second in 54.01 out of lane eight. She made it out of the first round as the last of 16 qualifiers. She is the only woman ever to compete in finals of the flat 400m and 400m hurdles at the same US Trials. Spencer’s coach is 1996 Olympic bronze medallist Tonja Buford-Bailey.
McLaughlin was third in 54.15, breaking the world U20 record of 54.40 set by China’s Wang Xing in 2005 and her own world U18 best of 54.46 from earlier this year. McLaughlin, who will turn 17 on 7 August, will be the youngest athlete to represent the United States in athletics at an Olympics since 1972 when 15-year-old Cindy Gilbert competed in the high jump.
“It’s been a very long year, and the trials is stressful,” McLaughlin said. “My mind was on finishing the race and eating a cheeseburger.”
The race was without the fastest two Americans this year: previous world leader Shamier Little, eliminated in the semifinals, and Georgeanne Moline, sidelined by a back injury.
Sunday’s other trials record was set by world indoor champion Matthew Centrowitz, whose time of 3:34.09 in the 1500m broke Steve Scott’s 1980 record of 3:35.15. Also under the record was Robby Andrews in 3:34.88. Ben Blankenship held off Olympic silver medallist Leo Manzano for the third spot, 3:36.18 to 3:36.62.
Centrowitz ran the final 400m in 53.95 in a race that wasn’t as slow and tactical as so many championship 1500m races. His father, Matt, was also an Olympian in the 1500m.
“I knew that the guys with the standard would be the hardest guys, so had I finished fourth today, I wasn’t going to go because those guys with the standard would have beat me,” Centrowitz said. “When I finished and saw how fast it was, I was pretty stoked because I knew what the trials record was. It’s neat now that for the rest of the trials everyone will see me until it’s taken down.”
Top trio forms the 1500m team
The United States is sending its most decorated team ever in the women’s 1500m: Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury and Brenda Martinez have all won IAAF World Championships medals.
Simpson, featuring a rare ability to run from the front and sprint from the pack, ran the closing 400m in 59.97 to finish in 4:04.74. Rowbury was second in 4:05.39, and Martinez’s kick brought her to third in 4:06.16, diving over the line to hold off Amanda Eccleston by 0.03. Martinez was involved in a collision in the 800m, ending her chance in that event. Morgan Uceny, a 2012 Olympic finalist who was tripped at the start of the last lap in London, faded from second to fifth down the stretch.
“I felt like this was a very powerful run for me, not about the time, but about my confidence level,” said Simpson. “I’m as confident as I ever have been in my professional career.”
World leader Johnny Dutch was on his way to Brazil. Then he wasn’t. Kerron Clement won the 400m hurdles in 48.50, making his third Olympic team. Dutch led coming off the 10th hurdle but lost his momentum and was passed by four men. Byron Robinson (also coached by Buford-Bailey) was second in 48.79 and Olympic silver medallist Michael Tinsley was third in 48.82. Dutch was fifth in 48.92. Robinson was the slowest qualifier for the final (50.26), making it by .01.
Molly Huddle became the first woman to win a 10,000m/5000m double at the US Trials, winning the latter in 15:05.01. Shelby Houlihan was second in 15:06.14 and Kim Conley third in 15:10.62. Huddle said she was “almost positive” she would skip the 5000m in Rio so she could begin preparing for her marathon debut in New York in November.
Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr will be joined by Arkansas training partners Sandi Morris and Lexi Weeks, 19. Suhr was third through 4.70m, needing three attempts, but she then cleared 4.75m and 4.80m on her first to move into the lead. Morris was second at 4.75m and Weeks third at 4.70m. Six women vaulted 4.60m, the most ever for any national championship in any country.
Olympic silver medallist and world indoor bronze medallist Erik Kynard won his fourth successive national high jump title, clearing 2.29m on a drizzly afternoon.
Roy Jordan for the IAAF
*Subject to the usual ratification procedures