Hansle Parchment

Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin runs fastest 100m of 2014 in Ostrava

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Justin Gatlin continued his unbeaten season by winning a 100m in a world-leading 9.86 seconds (video here) in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Tuesday.

Gatlin, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist and World silver medalist, bettered his previous season’s best of 9.87. Gatlin was put into the Ostrava field after Usain Bolt pulled out of the meet two weeks ago due to a lack of training after an early season foot injury. Bolt hasn’t raced since he went head to head with a bus in Buenos Aires on Dec. 14 and appears to be out into July, if not later.

Gatlin owns the four fastest 100m times in the world this season going into next week’s U.S. Championships. He may get his toughest test against Tyson Gay on July 3 in Lausanne, Switzerland, in Gay’s return from a doping suspension.

Also in Ostrava, Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton clocked a personal best 48.94 in the 400m hurdles (video here), a non-decathlon event. Eaton, who finished third, is focusing on the 400m hurdles this season, taking a break from the decathlon in a year without an Olympics or World Championships.

Eaton ranks No. 9 in the world in the event this year and third among Americans, behind only Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley and 2005 World champion Bershawn Jackson.

Allyson Felix held on to win a 200m in 22.75 by .04. Felix, coming back from a torn hamstring at the World Championships on Aug. 16, ran 22.44 on May 31 and 22.73 last Wednesday. The world leader is fellow American Tori Bowie, who has posted 22.18.

“Getting there, you know, gradually,” said Felix, who is putting more emphasis on the 400m this season. “I’m just trying to keep making steps.”

LaShawn Merritt won a 400m in 44.16 (video here). Merritt, the 2008 Olympic champion and reigning World champion, owns four of the five fastest times this season.

Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko, who made attempts at the high jump world record in New York on Saturday, wasn’t near the 20-year-old mark of 2.45m in Ostrava. He cleared 2.33m for the win but failed at three attempts at 2.40m.

Olympic pole vault champ Renaud Lavillenie of France cleared 5.83m for a victory.

Hansle Parchment won the 110m hurdles in 13.18, one tenth better than the fastest man this year, France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde. Beijing Olympic champ Dayron Robles was seventh in 13.76.

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Lolo Jones boosted by relay teammates in return to track

Lolo Jones
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Lolo Jones got off to a slow start in her first track event since competing in bobsled at the Sochi Olympics in February, but her shuttle hurdles relay team still won at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, on Friday night.

Jones, who said she has lost more than 20 pounds since Sochi, ran the second leg of a 4x100m shuttle hurdles relay on the USA Red team with 2013 world champion Brianna RollinsQueen Harrison and Vashti Thomas.

Rollins handed a lead to Jones, who lost it with a stuttering hop over her first hurdle, taking nine steps instead of the customary seven. Harrison and Thomas got it back to win in 50.93 seconds, beating a Jamaican team that ran 52.01.

“I made probably the biggest hurdle mistake you can make … for a 100m hurdle race, you’re pretty much sitting in a coffin like ‘the race is over,'” Jones said, according to The Associated Press. “So at that moment I crossed the line I was like, ‘All right, Queen! Let’s go team,’ because if it was individual, Lolo would be in last place.”

Nia Ali, the 2014 world indoor 60m hurdles champion, suffered an injury in warm-ups, which kept a USA White team from competing. It was set to include 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Kellie Wells.

In other events, 2013 world champion LaShawn Merritt edged rival and 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James in the 400m, 44.44 to 44.60. 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner was last in 46.90.

2012 Olympic bronze medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica won the 110m hurdles in a world-leading 13.14 seconds, beating a field that included Americans David Oliver and Ryan Wilson, who went one-two at the 2013 World Championships.

“I am surprised with that time,” said Parchment, who ran .12 faster than Oliver’s previous world lead for 2014, to Lewis Johnson for Universal Sports. “I didn’t expect to run that fast so quickly [early in the season].”

2012 Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley won the 400m hurdles in 48.57, ahead of Olympic bronze medalist Javier Culson (48.68). Olymipc champion Felix Sanchez was sixth in 49.84.

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U.S. could sweep men’s 110-meter hurdles at World Championships

Aries Merritt
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History may be in order, specifically a one-two-three-four order, in the men’s 110-meter hurdles at the World Track and Field Championships on Monday.

The U.S. sent all four of its men into the semifinals (11:05 a.m., Universal Sports), and all four are expected to make the final (1:30 p.m.) as well. The last time the U.S. swept the medals in an event at the World Championships came in 2007, when Jeremy WarinerLaShawn Merritt and Angelo Taylor led the 400 meters.

Once before, the U.S. went one-two-three-four in an event, the 200 meters at the 2005 World Championships (Justin GatlinWallace SpearmonJohn CapelTyson Gay). Usually, nations are allowed a maximum of three entries per event, but in recent years defending world champions and Diamond League winners have received byes, adding to that maximum in some cases.

Americans qualified first (David Oliver), fourth (Aries Merritt), fifth (Jason Richardson) and eighth (Ryan Wilson) into the semifinals. The top three from the two semifinal heats and the next two fastest overall will make the final.

“If all the Americans run like they’re capable, we’ll have four Americans in the final,” Merritt said in a phone interview before the World Championships. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to pull off the sweep, but we can show we’re the most dominant hurdles country.”

Merritt is the most recognizable of the four U.S. hurdlers. He was one of the most impressive athletes in the sport last year, winning the Olympic title and then breaking the world record. He broke 13 seconds eight times in 2012, but he hasn’t done it once this year. Nobody has.

A hamstring injury has slowed Merritt this season. He finished third at nationals behind Wilson and Oliver in 13.23 seconds and improved on that in July (13.09, 13.14). He’s confident going into the biggest meet of the year.

“The only title I’m missing,” Merritt said. “If I can gain this title, my medal count would be complete. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to try for the trifecta (Olympic title, world record, world title).”

Richardson is the defending champion, though he crossed the finish line second in 2011. In that race, 2008 Olympic champion Dayron Robles finished first, but he was disqualified for hitting 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang with his arm following each of the last two hurdles. Liu lost momentum but still finished third.

When Robles was disqualified, Richardson moved up to gold and Liu to silver. Richardson was in third place coming off the final hurdle.

“It was almost like a Christmas miracle how I definitely thought I had gotten third in the race,” Richardson said. “Then it was turned into silver, then turned into gold. The 2011 hurdles race kind of shows you what’s amazing about athletics.”

Oliver, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, shockingly failed to make the Olympic team last year. He bounced back to post the fastest time in the world this year (13.03) and the top time in the first round Sunday (13.05).

Wilson, the oldest of the quartet at age 32, made his first world or Olympic team by winning the national title in June.

The U.S. chances of a sweep are boosted by the absences of Liu (injury), Robles (dispute with Cuba) and Orlando Ortega, the second fastest non-American this year who failed to advance into the semifinals.

The major threat to the Americans is Jamaican Hansle Parchment, who won Olympic bronze in London. But Parchment suffered an ankle injury in late June and competed Sunday for the first time since June 1. His qualifying time, 13.43, was 13th best and behind the U.S. foursome.

Medal Picks
Gold: Oliver
Silver: Merritt
Bronze: Wilson

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