Friday, July 11, 2008

Wariner Beats Merritt and Powells Pulls Up in Rome!

-Rome, Italy.

The ÅF Golden League 2008 resumed today with fireworks in Rome.

It has been a rough week for world-class sprinters in the crazy world of track and field. First Tyson Gay went down in the 200-meters after running four of the fastest 100-meter races ever recorded.

Now, Asafa Powell pulled up in his 100-meter heat after feeling something in his groin, which will certainly put a dent in his preparation to take on countrymen Usain Bolt in Beijing. Powell’s manager Paul Doyle talked to reporters afterward to explain the latest turn of events.
“It's nothing," Paul Doyle told reporters. "He just felt his groin cramp up. He'll be fine, but he's not going to take any chances in an Olympic year.” "He's had problems with his groin in the past and got over them every time."

Who said track lacks excitement? It was a quick role reversal in Rome today. Last week challenger LaShawn Merritt upset Jeremy Wariner at 400-meters to win the U.S. Olympic Trials.

This week Wariner beat Merritt by .01 seconds. Wariner (44.36) had a big lead before LaShawn Merritt (44.37) poured on his kick down the stretch, making it a close race. Merritt is a formidable opponent. Are we witnessing the beginning of a new rivalry since both of the runners will be around for a while?

Afterward, Merritt said, “He was ahead at 300; I knew how the race was going to play out. I feel good about the race and as you can see, the part of the race that I’ve been working on is coming, the finish. So when I put it together, there’s going to be problems.”

Allyson Felix (50.25) is making a strong case to be included on the U.S. 4x400-meter relay in Beijing. But the U.S. women had better pick up the pace or Sanya Richards will be the lone American contender to win an individual medal in Beijing. Mary Wineberg ran 51.27 and hopefully there is an reasonable explanation such as she was fatigued from the Oly Trials or there something ailing her. Otherwise 51 seconds at this point in the season is not close to being among the top runners in the world.

Running at the U.S. Olympic Trials combined with a flight across the pond did not deter 100 hurdler Candice Davis from placing third (12.72) against top end competition of Jamaica’s Brigitte Foster-Hylton and Delloreen Ennis-London. Even though Davis did not make the U.S. Olympic team, she is a young, talented runner with a lot of upside especially if she improves on the first three hurdles of her race.

In a change of events, Sanya Richards ran the 200-meters to continue working on her speed in the races leading up to the 400-meters at the Olympic Games. Richards ran a very respectable 22.49 against winner Kerron Stewart (22.34) of Jamaica.

The gloves have come off in the 400-meter hurdles, and the fight will continue all the way to Beijing. Last week Bershawn Jackson beat favorite Kerron Clement to win the U.S. Olympic Trials. After the race Clement was visibly shake and disappointed by the loss. This week Kerron Clement (48.23) narrowly beat Bershawn “Batman” Jackson (48.34) in the 400-meter hurdles.

Jennifer Stucyznski was named USA Track and Field Athlete of the Week for improving her own American record to 16 feet, 1.75 inches on Sunday at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Today, Russian, World, Olympic, and European pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva sent an international message to her rivals in just her first competition of the outdoor season. She improved her world record in the women’s pole vault at the IAAF Golden Gala meeting in Rome. Isinbayeva vaulted 16 feet, 5 inches. Stucynzski will certainly have her hands full in Beijing.

By Jay Hicks.

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