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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 6: What Happened

IAAF recap

What happened? The impossible.

Men's 800 heats: Symmonds wins his heat, Reed only came through on time. All the other favorites--Kaki Khamis, Bungei, Borzakovskiy, Mulaudzi, Lopez, Yego, Laalou--qualified on place.

Men's 5k heats: Buster Mottram got suckered into a slow pace for the final heat, and when they finally started running at the bell he didn't have the wheels to stay in the top four and has been eliminated. A very good sign for an otherwise dismal U.S. team performance was the Yanks winning two out of the three heats. Both Lagat and Tegenkamp outsprinted their competitors and this bodes very well for Saturday's final.

Men's Pole Vault q-round: Another bomb for the USA, as national record holder Brad Walker apparently went brain-dead and no-heighted. I feared he might--his only losses this year were in the most important meets--but I didn't figure it would be this early. He was not alone in his troubles, as Hartwig, Mazuryk and Lobinger also didn't make it.

Women's Hammer Throw: Aksana Miankova took the lead from the first round and never let go. Eventual bronze medalist Zhang Wenxiu gave the crowd a momentary thrill when she came close in the second round, but that was it.

Mens' 110m Hurdles semis: The final is set up as expected, a Robles versus Oliver showdown. Robles has appeared nigh on invincible all season and today was no different.

Women's 200 meters semis
: NBC's "Show Americans Stars Winning" strategy is crumbling all around them in track & field, and they're probably doing everything short of a rain dance hoping for Allyson Felix to pull out the first successful U.S. defense of an '07 World Championship. Since June began she has not shown her dominant form of a year ago, and while she won her semi without too much trouble she still appears quite vulnerable to Veronica Campbell-Brown, who won hers in more convincing fashion.

Main Event...
Men's 200 meter final: There is nothing for me to write except 19.30. Bolt: "I knew the track was a fast track but I didn't think this was possible." Note: Spearmon and Martina were DQ'd for running out of their lanes.

Don't head for the exits yet...
Women's 400m Hurdles final: You really had to feel for these women. How do you follow an act like that? Sheena Tosta went for it and ran a good race, but Melaine Walker was in a different class once they turned onto the homestretch. The time was an Olympic Record and #4 all-time.

The question will naturally arise after the medals are counted: In the sprints and hurdles, what is Jamaica doing right and America doing wrong? It may not be the whole story, but it would be foolish to ignore the fact that Jamaica has no out-of-competition dope-testing program.

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