Aside from Ashton Eaton and the men's 1500m runners, the United States dropped the proverbial ball on day 7 in Beijing. Most notably, the U.S. team was shut out of the podium in the women's 100m hurdles, a scenario that was almost unimaginable just two days ago.
American disappointment aside, this meet has produced some incredible times in the sprints and that continued today starting with Ashton Eaton's performance in the decathlon 400m. The women's 200m final was blazing as well with Dafne Schippers continuing her meteoric rise in the sprint hierarchy.
Ashton Eaton sent the message early that he is the man to beat in the decathlon. In the first event, the 100m, Eaton ran 10.23, the fastest time ever recorded in a championship decathlon. Then, he won the second event, the long jump by 17 centimeters. After a mid-pack finish in the shot put, Eaton remained in the lead at the end of the morning session.
Two events came in the afternoon, but the one worth mentioning for Ashton Eaton is the 400m. He ran a PR of 45.00, which just so happened to be the fastest 400m run in a decathlon, ever. Of course, the field wasn't even close to him there and he won by nearly two seconds over Kai Kazmirek.
Ashton Eaton is up by 173 points over Damian Warner after the first day of action.
Men's 1500m Semifinals:
Heat 1: When a semifinal in the 1500 goes out in 2:08 for 800, you better make sure to get into the top-5 to get into the final and that's exactly what Matt Centrowitz and Leo Manzano did. Kiprop started really picking it up, shortly after the field came through the bell at 2:51. On the back stretch, Matt Centrowitz was sitting mid-pack and Leo Manzano was a bit off the back of that pack and looked to be out of it. Over the final 200m, Centrowitz moved through the pack and, with 50m to go, it was clear he would advance automatically. The surprise was what Leo Manzano did over the last 100m. He must have passed at least 5 people to move up into the last automatic qualifying spot.
Heat 2: The pace of the second heat was more honest than the first. The first 800m were run in 1:59, so it was all but assured that the top 7 from this heat would advance to the final. Like the Americans in the heat before, Robby Andrews was sitting off the back of the pack through 1300m, but, coming around the final turn, he started moving up along the outside of the pack and moved solidly into the top-7 over the first half of the home straight. He was on the bubble coming in and it took a slow first heat that eliminated Gebremedhin and Ozbilen to get him through. With three strong kickers, the Americans will likely hope for a tactical race to medal on the final day of competition
Women's 200m Final:
Dafne Schippers has perhaps been the story of this meet. She took second in the 100m to SAFP and in the 200m final, she ran 21.63, which is not only a championship record, but the fourth-fastest time in history. Despite those accolades, she needed a expert lean to barely beat Elaine Thompson who ran 21.66.
The American disappointment continued as the Candyce McGrone, who was the world leader entering the meet, finished in 4th after fading a bit in the last 100m. She still ran a PB of 22.01, but in an event that suddenly got competitive--remember Allyson Felix chose the 400m to chase better competition--that effort is merely another instance of Americans coming up short in Beijing.
|1||Dafne Schippers (NED)||21.63|
|2||Elaine Thompson (JAM)||21.66|
|3||Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM)||21.97|
Men's 110m Hurdles Final
With another chance for an American gold, it was inevitable that something would go wrong for the Americans. David Oliver got out poorly, hit three of the first four hurdles, and was never able to recover. He finished 7th. Sergey Shubenkov won the race, outleaning Parchment to set a Russian national record and break 13 seconds for the first time in his career. Parchment in turn outleaned Aries Merritt, who estimated himself at 75% health prior to a scheduled kidney transplant. While that's impressive, this race reeks of American disappointment.
|1||Sergey Shubenkov (RUS)||12.98|
|2||Hansle Parchment (JAM)||13.03|
|3||Aries Merritt (USA)||13.04|
Women's 100m Hurdles
In the semifinals, the Americans continued their story of disappointment at these world championships. In the first heat, Dawn Harper-Nelson clipped the 2nd hurdle with her trail leg and went down. She did not finish. Sharika Nelvis provided some relief for the U.S. side by getting second to automatically advance to the final.
The second heat featured the Americans being even less competitive. Kendra Harrison false-started with a reaction-time of .071 seconds, just under the .1 second cut-off. Tiffany Porter (GBR) won the Harrison-less second heat easily.
With the possibility of a U.S. sweep discarded, Brianna Rollins comfortably won the third heat to join Nelvis as the only other American in the final. There's something in the water in Beijing that is disproportionately affecting the Americans as it feels that every event has featured a notable miscue by a U.S. athlete.
On to the final. The stench of the 110m hurdles hung over the U.S. women as they were shut out of medals in what was an incredibly tight race. Behind Danielle Williams and Roleder, three women were leaning for third, and, at first, I thought Rollins got it, but the results proved otherwise as Alina Talay was awarded the bronze medal. With the U.S. entering 4 of the 6 fastest women in the event based on season bests, they figured to get at least one medal out of the event, if not more. Instead, nothing.
This meet was billed to be a statement of arrival for the U.S. squad, instead, it has turned into a disappointment nearly across the board.
|1||Danielle Williams (JAM)||12.57|
|2||Cindy Roleder (GER)||12.59|
|3||Alina Talay (BLR)||12.66|
|4||Brianna Rollins (USA)||12.67|
|5||Tiffany Porter (GBR)||12.68|
Two days of competition remain with some opportunities for Americans to salvage a respectable performance in the relays and in the men's 1500m and 5000m if only they would stop drinking the Beijing water.