Stephanie Garcia faceplanted on the penultimate water jump in her 3000m steeplechase heat at the USATF Outdoor Championships on Thursday, bringing back painful memories of the Olympic Trials.
Garcia was battling for the lead when she stutter-stepped to the water jump and tripped over it, breaking the fall to the Sacramento track with her hands.
“It’s like when you have that nightmare that you’re going to school and you forgot your homework or you’re only wearing your underwear,” Garcia told media later.
She recovered to finish fourth in her heat, advancing to the final Saturday (5:24 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports Gold). She likely needs to finish in the top three Saturday to qualify for her third world championships team.
Garcia finished ninth at the 2015 Worlds, but she failed to make the 2016 Olympic team.
At the Olympic Trials, Garcia was in second place with 200 meters to go. But she was passed by two runners, falling out of Olympic qualifying position. She then fell over the final barrier and ended up fifth (video here).
“I think I have a little bit of some scars from that Trials race last year,” Garcia said. “I’m not going to let that bring me down.”
Garcia had to conquer the water jump one more time Thursday after her faceplant. She slowed to a near walk and stepped over the barrier to avoid another collapse.
“I kind of buried myself mentally a little bit, having to crawl out of it,” Garcia said. “I feel very confident in my fitness. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. Everyone has to deal with the hurdles and the water jump, and I do, too.”
If Serena Williams is to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, she may have to go through her older sister in the fourth round.
Williams, the sixth seed, could play Venus Williams in the round of 16 at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday.
Serena opens against countrywoman Kristie Ahn, whom she beat in the first round at the U.S. Open. Serena could then get her U.S. Open quarterfinal opponent, fellow mom Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, in the second round.
If Venus is to reach the fourth round, she must potentially get past U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Azarenka beat Serena in the U.S. Open semifinals, ending the American’s latest bid to tie Margaret Court‘s major titles record.
Venus lost in the French Open first round the last two years.
The French Open top seed is 2018 champion Simona Halep, who could play 2019 semifinalist Amanda Anisimova in the third round.
Coco Gauff, the rising 16-year-old American, gets 2019 semifinalist Jo Konta of Great Britain in the first round in the same quarter of the draw as Halep.
The field lacks defending champion Ash Barty of Australia, not traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also out: U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka, citing a sore hamstring and tight turnaround from prevailing in New York two weeks ago.
Rafael Nadal was put into the same half of the French Open draw as fellow 2018 and 2019 finalist Dominic Thiem of Austria, with top-ranked Novak Djokovic catching a break.
Nadal, trying to tie Roger Federer‘s male record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, could play sixth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals before a potential clash with Thiem, who just won the U.S. Open.
Djokovic, who is undefeated in 2020 save being defaulted out of the U.S. Open, could play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy in the quarterfinals before a possible semifinal with Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev is the fourth seed but is 0-3 at the French Open. Another possible Djokovic semifinal opponent is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached the fourth round last year.
The most anticipated first-round matchup is between three-time major champion Andy Murray and 2015 French Open champion Stan Wawrinka. In Murray’s most recent French Open match, he lost in five sets to Wawrinka in the 2017 semifinals.