Classic women’s final in store
LONDON – Five of the fastest women in the world have made it to today’s final of the 200 metres, making it one of the headline events for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica is bidding for her third straight Olympic title, but she ranks at the bottom of that list, despite powering off the turn last night to win her semi-final in a season’s best 22.32 seconds.
Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 100 metres champion, ranks third with 22.10 and she qualified behind 400 metres champion Sanya Richard-Ross in 22.34. The American clocked 22.30 and is ranked second overall with 22.09.
World leader Allyson Felix has been a silver medallist for the past two Olympics. She clocked 22.31, but her personal best 21.69 ranks fourth on the all-time list and she will be fancying her chances. Fellow American Carmelita Jeter, the 100 metres silver medallist, advanced in 22.39 seconds, but she has a best of 22.11.
The surprise package in the field is Trinidad and Tobago’s Semoy Hackett who equalled her national record with 22.55 seconds. Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure and Myriam Soumare of France round out the field with times of 22.49 and 22.56 seconds, respectively.
That race will run at 4 p.m. local time and the men’s 110-metre hurdles will follow 15 minutes later.
The semi-finals saw the end of the line for Jamaican Sherone Simpson (22.71); Bahamian Anthonique Strachan (22.82); Kai Selvon (23.04) of Trinidad and Tobago; Grenada’s Janelle Redhead (23.51) and Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel with 23.28.
Tomorrow’s final in the men’s 800 metres is also shaping up to be a great run. World record holder and World champion David Rudisha of Kenya wasn’t even breathing hard after he posted 1 minute, 44.35 seconds to win his heat, but Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman also won his heat in a marginally faster 1:44.34.
However, the race of the night was the women’s 100-metre hurdles. The naked eye couldn’t separate the winners, but the photo finish cameras showed Australia’s Sally Pearson had deservedly won gold in a new Olympic record of 12.35 seconds, replacing American Joanna Hayes’ 12.37 from 2004.
The race was Pearson’s to lose. The World champion has lost only once in the last year, to American Kellie Wells, but the gauntlet was thrown down in the semis by defending champion Dawn Harper of the United States. She raced to a new personal best and United Kingdom All-Comers record of 12.46 seconds, only to see the Australian smash it with 12.39 in the very next race.
It was a three-woman race, with Pearson, Harper and Wells out evenly. But by the fifth hurdle, Wells, who took bronze in a personal best 12.48 seconds, was left behind.
The scoreboard flashed the winning time, but not the winner. Anxiety built before a relieved and delighted Pearson saw her name up first after a desperate lunge to the line to give Australia their first track gold. Harper, who did a second personal best of 12.37 seconds, was gracious in defeat.
No athletes from the Caribbean reached the final. Jamaica’s Shermaine Williams did 12.83 and Bahamian Ivanique Kemp 13.56 in the semis.
Bianca Stuart of The Bahamas was the lone Caribbean athlete in the first round of the women’s long jump. With a season’s best of 6.79 metres, she needed 6.70 to automatically qualify or rank among the top 12, but her best was 6.32 metres, 18th overall.