Justin Gatlin (pictured - left) and Ryan Bailey ran two of the fastest times ever run for the 100m in preliminary heats of the Olympic Games as they both crossed the line under ten seconds to lead nine Team USA athletes on to the next round of competition after Saturday’s morning session.
The U.S. men stormed through the 100m heats as Tyson Gay (Clermont, Fla.), Gatlin (Orlando, Fla.) and Bailey (Salem, Ore.) took first place in the initial three heats of the event. Gay looked smooth as he won the first heat in 10.08. Gatlin ran his sixth race of the year under 10 seconds as he won his heat in 9.97. In heat 3 Bailey ran the fastest time of the day as he equaled his personal best of 9.88. Bailey’s time is the fastest ever run in the first or second round of the 100m, and only five men have ever run faster in any round.
In the men’s 400m prelim, rookie Olympians Bryshon Nellum (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Tony McQuay (Gainesville, Fla.) both advanced with ease to the next round. Both men finished second in their heats with Nellum turning in a 45.29 performance and a 45.48 from McQuay. Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt (Suffolk, Va.) did not finish. Merritt got out to a slow start and pulled out of the race by the 200m mark.
In the women’s steeplechase prelims, Emma Coburn (Crested Butte, Colo.) and Bridget Franek (Eugene, Ore.) advanced to the next round. Coburn led the second heat through the penultimate water barrier and crossed the finish line third in 9:27.51. Franek ran in the fastest of the three heats and finished fifth in 9:29.86, but was able to advance to the semifinal from her time. Shalaya Kipp (Salt Lake City, Utah) did not advance as she finished 12th in the first heat in 9:48.33.
Olympic silver medalist Jenn Suhr (Churchville, N.Y.) only took one jump at 4.55m/14-11 in the women’s pole vault, and it was all she needed to tie for first with Yarisley Silva of Cuba and advance to the finals. Olympic newcomer Becky Holliday (Jonesboro, Ark.) came in with the bar at a height of 4.25m/13-11.25, and after a shaky go at 4.40m/14-5.25 where she didn’t clear the bar until the third try, she went on to clear 4.55m/14-11 to take 4th in group B. Lacy Janson (Sarasota, Fla.) cleared at 4.25/13-11.25 and 4.40m/14-5.25, but was unable to get over the bar at 4.50m/14-9 and did not advance to the finals.
Hyleas Fountain fell out of medal contention in the women’s heptathlon as she dropped from fifth place at the end of day one to 27th place midway through the second day of competition. After earning 865 points for her long jump of 6.05m/19-10.25, Fountain fouled two of her javelin throws and was only able to record a mark of 21.60m/70-10 in the javelin (319 points). Sharon Day sits in 17th place after jumping 5.85m/19-2.5 (804 points) and throwing 43.90m/144-0 (742 points), and Chantae McMillan is in 26th with her jump of 5.37m/17-7.5 (663 points) and throw of 49.78m/163-4 (856 points). The heptathlon concludes tonight with the 800m.
Bryshon Nellum, 400m: “I feel great. The main thing was to make it to the next round. It is like a dream come true, this is one of the best crowds I ever ran in. They keep me going, and I’m having fun.”
LaShawn Merritt, 400m: “Obviously this is the Olympic games, so you’re going to do all of the things to get healthy. It is feeling a lot better, a whole lot better. I feel like the strength is there. But when I really went for it, I could feel it. I thought I could get through the rounds not 100 percent, but I got out and I ran the curve and I started to feel it and I started to move a little bit more and i just still felt it, and I need more rest. It is very disappointing to want to have an undefeated season, and to come here and to be dealing with an issue and not be able to finish the race. But I’ll regroup. It’s not the end of the world, and the Olympics will come around again. Next year is the World Championship, and we have a track season every year. So now it is a matter of getting healthy and getting back to what I love to do.”
Tony McQuay, 400m: I could've executed a little bit better but I got the job done. I did my job and made it to the next round.
Shalaya Kipp, 3000m Steeplechase: “It was alright. You get out there and there are more elbows than you’ve ever seen, even though there is the same number of people. I kind of got shoved to the back early on and got boxed. The race was going by so fast, you just try to think of jumping over every barrier, then all of a sudden there are three laps to go and I find myself at the back of the pack. It’s not like anything I’ve ever really experienced before. I wish I could have been at the front of that pack.”
Emma Coburn, 3000m Steeplechase: "Leading wasn't plan A, but I knew it was possible because I'd done it in Daegu. The woman leading tripped and I suddenly was in the lead. I knew I had to lead to keep pace. I was kind of relieved when the two other women came up at about 600 meters and I just latched onto them and ran through. I'm confident I can run similarly tomorrow."
Bridget Franek, 3000m Steeplechase: “Advancing to the final was my goal coming in here. It was hard. Coming in, I had a sense of peace about it. It’s just so cool to make the final. I’m so excited. My USA teammates have inspired me. A final isn’t given to anyone, you have to go out and get it. When I was comfortable was when I was in the pack, I knew if I was going to make it, it was PR or bust and hopefully that would get me where I wanted to be. I couldn’t just give it to them.”
Tyson Gay, 100m: “I felt pretty good. I didn’t feel any pain. I did what I wanted to do. I gave it about 75 percent I think, at 60-70 meters I let up a little.”
Justin Gatlin, 100m: “Coach wanted me to go out there and work the first 30 meters, that’s what I did, dominated the race, and just brought it home. It’s all just technique the second half of the race. I think I had kind of a slow start, but I just want to go there and build the race each round.”
Ryan Bailey, 100m: “It is stupid fast, it is real fast. I wanted to just get through the rounds. My coach told me to come out and run relaxed, and that is what I did. The time just came, I wasn’t trying to run fast at all. There is no pressure on me at all. If I go out there and fail, no one is expecting me to medal anyways so, if I go out here and medal and steal that from someone, then good for me.”