Fire on the Track: Justin Gatlin (9.80), LaShawn Merritt (43.97) and Allyson Felix (49.68) All Crush World Leaders

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By LetsRun.com
July 3, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. — The U.S.’s top sprinters set the Hayward Field track on fire on Sunday afternoon in the 100 and 400 finals at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. By the time the dust settled after four sprint races, there were three new world leaders (well four; Justin Gatlin set the 100 world leader twice) and history in the women’s 100. Allyson Felix got things started by blasting a 49.68 400 before LaShawn Merritt went 43.97 in the men’s race and Justin Gatlin clocked 9.80 (after 9.83 in the semis) in the men’s 100. The only sprint race not to see a world leader was the women’s 100, which may have been the best of them all: for the first time, three women broke 10.80 (wind-legal) in the same race. English Gardner was fastest of them all in 10.74, with Tianna Bartoletta (10.78) and Tori Bowie (10.78) joining her as Olympians. Gardner’s time was the fastest by an American since 2011 puts her fourth on the all-time U.S. list — only Florence Griffith-Joyner, Carmelita Jeter and Marion Jones have gone faster. Bartoletta and Bowie are now tied for sixth.

Men’s 100: Justin Gatlin Sends A Message With A World-Leading 9.80; Trayvon Bromell Ties PB at 9.84

Justin Gatlin entered the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials unbeaten by anyone other than Usain Bolt since 2013, but his times in 2016 paled in comparison to the string of 9.7’s he put up early in 2015. At this point last year, Gatlin had already run 9.74 and 9.75; his 2016 bests before today were 9.93 and 9.94 (twice).

He ran a lot faster than that today, setting two world leaders in the span of two hours, clocking 9.83 in the semis before running 9.80 to hold off Trayvon Bromell and earn his third U.S. 100 title. The 20-year-old Bromell was able to overcome an Achilles injury that caused him to withdraw from two Diamond League meets in June and tied his 9.84 pb set at USAs last year.

While Gatlin and Bromell were obvious picks to make this team at the start of the year, third-placer Marvin Bracy was not. The 22-year-old Bracy has always been a tremendous 60-meter man, winning the last three U.S. titles. But until today, he had never even made a U.S. final outdoors, let alone made the team. Yet he did just that, edging out Mike Rodgers, 9.98 to 10.00, for the final spot in the individual 100. Bracy has been in good form this year — he ran 9.94 on June 11, just .01 of his PR, and beat Yohan Blake at the adidas Boost Boston Games street meet on June 18. But today’s accomplishment dwarfs everything else: he can call himself an Olympian, now and forever.

WIND: 1.6 M/S
PLACE ATHLETE RESULT REACT LN/POS
1 Justin Gatlin

Nike
9.80 0.160 3
2 Trayvon Bromell

New Balance
9.84 0.147 6
3 Marvin Bracy

adidas
9.98 0.146 2
4 Michael Rodgers

Nike
10.00 0.158 5
5 Tyson Gay

Unattached
10.03 0.170 7
6 Christian Coleman

Tennessee
10.06 0.163 4
7 Jarrion Lawson

ASICS
10.07 0.164 1
8 Dentarius Locke

Nike
10.34 0.169 8

Quick Take: Gatlin showed today that he remains Usain Bolt’s closest challenger, but Trayvon Bromell is in his rearview mirror
Gatlin loses in Rio to a 100-percent healthy Bolt, and probably even loses to an 85-percent healthy Bolt. But we won’t know until the London Diamond League on July 22-23 (where Bolt will have a chance to show fitness) how healthy Bolt is. In recent years, Bolt has always come around in time for the championships, and the safe bet is that he does the same for Rio. But if Bolt’s injury proves to be serious, Gatlin showed once again today that, even at age 34, he’s ready to step in as top dog.

Gatlin’s not a lock for silver in Rio, however. Bromell pushed him today, and closed the gap from the first time they raced in Beijing last year (where Gatlin beat Bromell, 9.80 to 9.92). Can he close the gap further at the Olympics?

Justin Gatlin gave a thumbs-up when asked what he’d say to Usain Bolt

Travyon Bromell was pumped after equaling his lifetime pb despite battling an Achilles injury
Bromell gave lots of credit to his Mom and God for the win.

Marvin Bracy After Making The Team

Tyson Gay knows at age 33 that this was likely his last chance to make it to the Olympics and he’s certainly willing to run on the relay if called upon

Bromell and Bracy Look Up to Gatlin
Gatlin and Bracy were both full of praise of Gatlin and say they look up to him and he serves as a mentor. They have studied videos of his races and his incredible starts:

All of them have high hopes for the relay in Rio:

And Bromell went into great length on how to start well in the 100 and what you should be looking for as a fan:

Gatlin makes a joke about Bromell selling his starting video for $9.99. Gatlin’s got a funny personality and is starting to show it a bit more. Bringing his son to the press conference was a good move because it softens his image.

Men’s 400: LaShawn Merritt Puts On A Show with the First Sub-44 of 2016

Merritt has dominated the 400 in the U.S. for years, but this was actually his first U.S. title since 2013 (he was second last year and did not compete in ’14). And what a race it was, with Merritt, in typical fashion, destroying the field over the final 100 to win in 43.97, a world leader and the fastest time at USAs since Michael Johnson’s 43.68 in 2000.

The runner-up was Gil Roberts, who was disqualified for a false start in yesterday’s semifinals but later reinstated after running the race under protest. Roberts got out very hard and started tying up badly over the final 50 meters, but he was able to muscle through and cross second in 44.73. 2015 U.S. champ David Verburg was third in 44.82.

Tony McQuay, who led all qualifiers after running a PR of 44.24 in yesterday’s semis, could only manage sixth in the final 45.30. McQuay and the others in semifinal 1 may have paid for their fast race yesterday, as three of the top four finishers came from semifinal 2. McQuay, Roberts, Najee Glass, Kyle Clemons and even Michael Cherry (who didn’t even make the final) all ran faster than Verburg’s 44.82 in the semis, but only Roberts will be going to Rio in the individual 400.

But this was Merritt’s day, and his 43.97 sent a message to his rivals — reigning Olympic champ Kirani James of Grenada and reigning world champ Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa — that he will be ready to roll in Rio.

PLACE ATHLETE RESULT REACT LN/POS
1

LaShawn Merritt

Nike

43.97 0.210 5
2

Gil Roberts

Nike

44.73 0.171 6
3

David Verburg

adidas

44.82 0.203 4
4

Arman Hall

Florida

45.09 0.174 3
5

Tony McQuay

adidas

45.30 0.203 7
6

Kyle Clemons

adidas

45.39 0.206 2
7

Najee Glass

Florida

45.48 0.190 8
8

Michael Berry

Nike

45.90 0.249 1

Arman Hall was pleased to be in the relay pool but knows that the U.S. is a tough team to make in the individual 400
Hall, the NCAA champ for Florida, said he felt he was moving well toward the end, but it just wasn’t good enough. “These guys are amazing,” Hall said.

Tony McQuay: “I just didn’t show up”

8th placer Mike Berry
Berry trains with LaShawn Merritt and said he was really excited to see him run so well here.

Women’s 400: Allyson Felix Wins With World Leader

Throughout the first two rounds of the women’s 400, star Allyson Felix said she didn’t feel great. You certainly wouldn’t have known that watching today’s final as Felix won with a world-leading 49.68. Former Oregon Duck Phyllyis Francis ran a huge pb of 49.94 (previous pb of 50.46 indoors) to grab the second Olympic spot as Natasha Hastings placed third in 50.17, to qualify for her first individual event at an Olympics.

The world leader coming into the race at 49.71, NCAA champion Courtney Okolo, didn’t do well as she was just 6th in 50.39.

Results

PLACE ATHLETE RESULT REACT LN/POS
1

Allyson Felix

Nike

49.68 0.206 6
2

Phyllis Francis

Nike

49.94 0.190 2
3

Natasha Hastings

Under Armour / NYAC

50.17 0.225 7
4

Taylor Ellis-Watson

adidas

50.25 0.602 3
5

Francena McCorory

adidas

50.37 0.368 5
6

Courtney Okolo

Nike

50.39 0.271 4
7

Ashley Spencer

Nike

51.09 0.614 8
8

Quanera Hayes

Nike

51.80 0.357 1

QT: Felix was magnificent

Post-race we asked Felix if she’d been playing possum on the field by not looking dominant in the early rounds (failing to win either of the first two rounds) and talking about how she wasn’t feeling good and Felix said that it certainly wasn’t an act. She said in the past she’s felt much more confident as she’s known she’s done a lot of work whereas this year she’s coming back to fitness after an injury.

QT:  It’s extremely hard to make the team in women’s 400 as an American.

Coming into the competition today , the world’s top 5 was as follows:

2016 Women’s Fastest 400 Runners Before Today
1 49.69 Shaunae Miller BAH
2 49.71 Courtney Okolo USA
3 49.91 Quanera Hayes USA
4 50.23 Francena McCorory USA
5 50.31 Stephenie Ann McPherson JAM

Okolo, Hayes and McCorory – the 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-fastest women in the world before tonight, all failed to make the team.

As a result, third-placer Natasha Hastings was obviously pleased to have made the team. She said her first individual event Olympic competition was a nice early 30th birthday present for herself (30th is July 23rd).

QT: Courtney Okolo In Shock After Not Making Olympic Team

Okolo was clearly heartbroken after coming in as a favorite to make the team, but finishing back in 6th. Asked what went wrong she said she just “didn’t execute.”

QT: Taylor Ellis-Watson Happy With 4th Place Finish

Recent University of Arkansas alum Taylor Ellis-Watson seemed happy with her 4th place finish as she will likely go to Rio in the 4×400 relay. Ellis-Watson talked about being excited to go with fellow Razorbacks Dominique Scott and Sandi Morris.

Women’s 100:  English Gardner Breaks Through In A Historically Fast and Deep Final

In a race worthy of an Olympic final, the women’s 100 final at the US Olympic Trials saw five women break 11 seconds in an impressive demonstration of both the quality and depth of American women’s sprinting. And four years after the infamous third-place tie controversy involving Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, this time there was no doubt who the United States 100 team would be as the top three, while very close to each other, were well clear of the rest of the field.

English Gardner, the 2013 U.S. champion, returned to the top of the podium by blazing to the win in 10.74, a performance that is the second-best in the world this year.  

Tianna Bartoletta, twice the world champion in the long jump, was a strong second in 10.78 while 2015 World Championships bronze medalist Tori Bowie was third, also in 10.78. Bowie’s time is the fastest third place performance in history.

And the quality did not stop there as two more dipped under 11, although fourth and fifth were well back of the top three: Morolake Akinosun was fourth in 10.95 and Jenna Prandini (who looked impressive in dominating her semi-final heat in a wind-aided 10.86) was a slightly disappointing fifth in 10.96.

Results

WIND: 1.0 M/S
PLACE ATHLETE RESULT REACT LN/POS
1

English Gardner

Nike

10.74 0.151 5
2

Tianna Bartoletta

Nike

10.78

10.776

0.190 4
3

Tori Bowie

adidas

10.78

10.779

0.181 3
4

Morolake Akinosun

Texas

10.95 0.185 7
5

Jenna Prandini

Puma

10.96 0.161 6
6

Ariana Washington

Oregon

11.01 0.183 2
7

Barbara Pierre

Nike

11.10 0.188 8
8

Tiffany Townsend

adidas

11.11 0.174 1

Women’s 100 press conference: Gardner, Bartoletta and Bowie made clear that they’re friends off the track and desperately want to win gold in the 4×100 in Rio — Gardner called their team “nasty”

MB: Millennial Jenna Prandini goes home DEVASTATED!

NBC’s Live Extra has live streaming of the Olympic Trials here: http://liveextra.nbcsports.com.


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