Beijing Diary, August 21, 2008-Evening Nightmares-US Drops Batons in both 4x100m relays, Felix takes silver, US Sweep in 400 meters, Rowbury makes 1,500 meter final!

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What a night of yin and yang. US drops batons on third handoff on both relays, then Felix takes silver and US sweeps 400 meter for men! Shannon Rowbury makes 1,500 meter final! And Payne and Oliver follow Cuba's Dayron Robles!

Beijing Diary
August 21, 2008
Evening Session
Day 7

Men's 800 meter semi finals-Brutal Semis, Borzakovsky is out! Symmonds is out!

Semi final 1

Wilfred Bungei of Kenay took the pack through 54.23 and 1:21.00 for 600 meters to win, start to finish in 1:46.23. Yeimer Lopez of Cuba, the young man who ran 1:43.07 earlier this season took second here in 1:46.40. Not qualifying for the final was a very tired Yuriy Borzakovsky of Russia, who finished third in 1:46.53. Borzakovsky is the 2004 Olympic champion.

US runner Nick Symmonds, always in contention, did not have any more energy down the final straight and finished in 1:46.96. He did not move on.

Semi final 2

Fabiano Pecanha of Brazil took the pack through 400 meters in 51.02, and Alfred Kirwa Yego took the pack through 600 meters in 1:18.40. Yego won in 1:44.73, with Ismail Ahmed Ismail of Sudan in second in 1:44.91, Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain in third, in 1:44.95. In fourth, Nadjim Manseur of Algeria in fourth in 1:45.54. All four moved on.

Semi final 3

Nabil Madi of Algeria kept it simple, he lead start to finish, hitting the 400 meters in 52.24 and hit the finish in 1:45.63. Running second here was Gary Reed of Canada, who ran 1:45.85 for the last qualifying position in the 800 meter final.

Women's 1,500 meter semi finals-Rowbury Makes Final!

With no first round, the 1,500 meter runners were down to two rounds from three.

Heat 1

Anna Mishchenko of the Ukraine took the 400 meters through 67.96, and the 800 meters through 2:13.96. Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, the fastest women in the world this year, took control and ran all of the way home in a relaxed 4:05.14. In second, Natalia Rodriguez of Spain ran a great last straightaway, taking second in 4:05.30. In third, Siham Hilali of Morocco ran a seasonal best of 4:05.36. In fourth and the final qualifying spot was Anna Mishchenko of the Ukraine, who ran 4:05.61 for a personal best to move to the final.

Sarah Jamieson of Australia ran 4:06.64 and did not move on. Christin Wurth Thomas of the US finished in eighth in 4:09.70 and did not move on.

Heat 2

Gelete Burka took the crowd through 71.41. Iryna Lischenskya of the Ukraine ran 2:24.93 for the 800 meters, so with this pedestrian pace, one knew the finish would be just ugly. Viola Biwott of Kenya hit the 1,200 meters in 3:30.41 and the race was on! Running the last 300 meters in 43.6, Iryna Lischyskya of the Ukraine won in 4:13.60. Iris Fuentes-Pila of Spain took second in 4:14.10, and Btissam Lakhouad of Morocco ran 4:14.34 for the last qualifying position.

The US runner, Erin Donahue got into the pack and there was a lot of pushing and shoving, and her move over the last three hundred meters, tired her in the stretch, where she and the Kenyan, Viola Biwott, looked to collide. Donahue finished in eighth place, in 4:16.05 and put her head in her hands after the finish...

Heat 3

Shannon Rowbury has had a story book year! Running a 4:01.6 in May and leading US lists since then, plus a very confidence building Olympic Trials victory, and a great run in Europe, Rowbury looked ready to run. She also looked quite nervous before the race, but who would not be, in front of 85,000 for the first time?

Lui Qing of China lead the 400 meters in 62.71 and Shannon Rowbury took the field through the 800 meters in 2:11.44 and stayed up front. Anna Alminvoa of Russia took the pack through 1200 meters in 3:17.40.

Nancy Jebet Langat took the lead and the win in 4:03.02, a seasonal best. Natalyia Tobias of the Ukraine took second in 4:03.19, a seasonal best, and Lisa Dobrisky of Great Britian took third in 4:03.22, a personal best. Shannon Rowbury of the US was fourth, in 4:03.89, moving to the final. The final qualifier was Anna Alminove of Russia, who ran 4:04.66.

Shannon Rowbury, in the mixed zone, was pretty excited: " I am very excited to have another chance on Saturday, It is always interesing with the round, YOu want to run hard, by you hope that you have something left for Saturday."

Men's 4 x 100 meter first round-US drops baton

The rain had me worried and rightly so. The US team, in the first round, had two decent handoffs, but of course, on the last hand off, Darvis Patton to Tyson Gay, Patton did not get the baton to Gay, and it dropped to the track. I look back from the track, found a bag, and lost my stomach.

I have spent a decade writing that the US does not need their best sprinters, just some guys who can actually get a baton around the track. Most high school teams in the US have more success, on an yearly basis than US national teams. It is embarrassing and just should not happen.

What is the karma about the Olympics that US teams screw up batons?

It does need to be said that three other teams dropped batons in that round, but this is the US relay team and they should own this event. Well, until this country with three million Jamaicans showed up, kicking our butts.

Tyson Gay said this, " I dropped it. I tried to reach for it, but it was not there. I should have sure and I guess it was my fault. I am a veteran, I have never dropped a baton in my life."

Darvis Patton, " It is my job as anchor to get that baton, I did not do that. My job is to be the baton, I will take the balem for that. I thought he had it secure so I will take the blame for that. Tyson is a very humble guy, I know it was my job.

So, here are two of the classiest guys in our sport, Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay, who made a mistake, and actually taking responsibility. God, I wanted to see them run against the Jamaicans! I have a hard time getting mad at those two guys, who will make themselves sick over it, but I am still mad about the baton drop! UGGGG!


Women's 200 Meter Final-Campbell, Felix, Stewart

Veronica Campbell Brown ran a brilliant curve, and had the lead by the end of the curve and built that lead to the finish, running a personal best and spectacular time of 21.73! Allyson Felix ran the curve well, but was in sixth place and ran her way into second, taking the silver medal in a seasonal best of 21.93. In third, Kerron Stewart added to her medal count, running 22.00 for the bronze medal. Muna Lee of the US ran a personal best of 22.01 for fourth place. In fifth, Marshevet Hooker also ran a pesonal best of 22.34. In sixth, Sherone Simpson of Jamaica ran 22.36.


Women's 4 x 100 meters-history never repeats! Despite baton drop, Williams shows class!

In the never ending saga of a country with great sprinters who can not keep a baton from falling, Tory Edwards, on the third leg, handed off to Lauryn Williams who was anchor, and again the baton dropped to the track Tory held her face with her hands in amazement as Lauryn had the presence of mind to find the baton, and finish, in 48.94. Lauryn Williams gets my class act of the meet award. I am amazed about the baton drop but Williams gutty finish will teach a million kids in US about finishing the job. OH, that is ONLY is NBC shows the race before next year!


Men's 400 meter Final-US Sweep!

Running a perfect race, La Shawn Merritt got out well, and ran each 100 meters like he owned it. Jeremy Wariner came off the turn just behind Merritt, but that was all she wrote. La Shawn Merritt was not to be stopped and he ran a personal best, hitting 43.75 to take the gold. Jeremy Wariner could not respond, but did hold onto the silver, in 44.74. David Neville of the US, running his own race, took the bronze in 44.80. Christopher Brown of the Bahamas ran 44.84 for fourth. Leslie Djhone of France ran 45.11 for fifth. Martyn Rooney, the guy who false started here, ran 45.11 for sixth. Renny Quow of Trinidad ran 45.22 for seventh and Johan Wisman of Sweden ran 45.39 for eighth.

In the end the gold went to La Shawn Merritt because he was able to run his race in an Olympic final, where Jeremy Wariner was just not on tonight. A small compromise in one's race plan can mean the difference between gold and silver, here it did.


Men's 110 Meter hurdles-Dayron Robles, then Payne and Oliver

Dayron Robles has his gold medal. Hurdling cleanly and taking the lead by the second hurdle, Robles of Cuba just let the field have it, as the bespectacled Cuban hit the finish line in 12.94.
David Payne, the bronze medalist from Osaka, seemed to get out of his blocks slowly and began hitting hurdles by four, and he hit every one through ten, holding onto the silver in 13.17, a seasonal best. Payne was channelling Roger Kingdom, had not seen so many hurdles go down since the days of Jarrett, Kingdom and Allen Johnson!

David Oliver got behind, but held on, hurdling competently for third in 13.18. Ladji Doucoure of France ran his smartest race in a season, taking fourth here in 13.24.

In the end this was Dayron Robles race to win or loose and he won it. There will be some celebrating in Havana tonight!

Women's javelin-Spotakova wins on last throw!

Christina Obergfoll of Germany had thrown 66.13 in the first round, and besides a 63.34m throw in round three, she had fouled four times. Still, her first round held up for the bronze.

Barbora Spotakova has thrown 69.22m for the first round, then 67.04, a foul, 64.92m, and a foul in round five. She was in second.

Maria Abakumova of Russia had thrown 69.32m, 69.08m, foul, then 70.78m in round four to take the first position. Her foul in round five did nothing to add to her position or negate it. Her 70.78 m throw was a Russian national record.

Well, Barbora Spotakova was not done. The Czech thrower ran up the runway, and unloaded a massive an Area record of 71.42m-and she moved into the gold medal position.

Abakumova could not respond, throwing 67.52m.

Between Abakumova and Spotakova, they have over a meter on the next thrower.

Goldie Sayers of Great Britian took fourth in a national record of 65.75m for her country!

The gold medalist said, " I don't know how I did it. I can tell you honestly, I do not know how I did it.
It is a very special day in the Czech Republic. It is the 40th anniversary of the Russian invasion in 1968. Last year, I won the world championships, but to be an Olympic gold medalist si something much bigger. This is the maximum I can gain in my career."

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