DEAGU, South Korea - LaShawn Merritt became just the fourth athlete to earn three career medals in the men’s 400-meter dash after earning a silver medal in the finals at the 13th IAAF World Championships Tuesday night.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Angelo Taylor and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Bershawn Jackson advanced into the finals of the men’s 400m hurdles.
Two-time World Outdoor silver medalist LaShinda Demus moved a step closer in her quest for a gold medal in the women’s 400m hurdles by posting the fastest qualifying time in the semifinal round.
Meanwhile, Morgan Uceny and Jenny Simpson advanced to the finals of the women’s 1500m, marking just the fourth time Team USA has advanced two runners into the finals (1987,1999, 2009).
Team USA now boasts nine medals: four gold, four silver and one bronze to lead the medal table, with Kenya and Russia tied for second with eight medals. The U.S. also holds an advantage in the point standings with 103 total points; 20 points ahead of runner-up Russia.
Men’s 400m Final
In a thrilling finish to the day, 18-year-old Kirani James of Grenada and the defending World Champion Merritt (Suffolk, Va.) battled down the final straight away, with James pulling ahead just before the line to take the title. James won in a personal best time of 44.60, with Merritt close behind in 44.63. Merritt now owns two world silver medals and one gold, joining Americans Butch Reynolds (bronze-1987; silver-1993, 1995) and Jeremy Wariner (gold-2005, 2007; silver-2002) as the second highest multiple winners in the event. American Michael Johnson tops the list earning four gold medals in the 400m at the 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999 World Championships.
Women’s Pole Vault Final
Olympic silver medalist Jenn Suhr (Churchville, N.Y.) fell just shy of the podium, finishing fourth, ahead of defending Olympic and World champion Elana Isinbaeva of Russia, who was sixth in 4.65m/15-3. Suhr did improve on a 10th-place finish at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Japan. Suhr cleared 4.70m/15-5 on her second attempt, but was not able to clear the next advance of the bar. Suhr
Men’s 800m Final
Four-time U.S. Outdoor champion Nick Symmonds (Eugene, Ore.) was in a good position with 250m to go before the traffic of the pack proved difficult to navigate. Marcin Lewandowski of Poland began to close on Symmonds, and the U.S. champion looked like he was set to surge around the outside of the pack in his typical fashion. Unfortunately, for Symmonds, the Polish athlete moved on the outside and Symmonds found himself boxed in and unable to advance to the podium. Symmonds finished fifth in 1:45.12.
In a surprising finish to the women’s heptathlon, Olympic silver medalist Hyleas Fountain (Kettering, Ohio) did not finish the 800m. Fountain dropped out of the final event around the 200m mark and did not score any points in the final discipline of the heptathlon. Hyleas entered the 800m in fourth place, but fell to 25th place with 5611 points. Sharon Day (Costa Mesa, Calif.), a 2008 Olympian, had a better day as she ran a season best time of 2:15 to end the competition in 18th place with 6043 points.
Women’s Steeplechase Final
Emma Coburn (Crested Butte, Colo.) entered the final of the 3,000m steeplechase seeded 15th overall before finishing in 13th place in 9:51.40 in her first ever international championship. With Jenny Simpson’s performance in 2009, this marks the second consecutive World Championships where a current University of Colorado athlete advanced to the steeplechase final.
Men’s Discus Final
Jason Young (Lubbock, Texas) threw farther than his performance in Monday’s qualifying round; however, it was not enough to advance to the final. Young’s best throw of 63.20m/207-4 gave him a tenth-place finish in his first World Championships.
Women’s 1500m Semifinals
Uceny (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and Simpson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) advanced to the finals of the women’s 1500m. Uceny ran with Shannon Rowbury (San Francisco, Calif.) in the first heat, where the tightly bunched pack forced both women to run the majority of the race from the second lane. With 400m to go, Uceny began to move up through the pack, but Rowbury was unable to follow suit. Uceny finished fifth in 4:09.03 to automatically advance to the final, while Rowbury faded to a 12th place finish in 4:11.49 and did not advance.
Simpson ran in the second heat and was able to run wide on the final straight away to move into second place to automatic qualify to the final in a time of 4:07.90.
Men’s 400m Hurdles Semifinals
Jackson (Raleigh, N.C.) and Taylor (Decatur, Ga.) advanced to Thursday night’s finals. Jackson easily won the third heat in 48.80 to qualify automatically. Taylor faced a faster field in the first heat and placed third, but was able to qualify based on his time of 48.86.
Jeshua Anderson (Woodland Hills, Calif.) finished one spot behind Taylor, but was unable advance with his time of 49.33.
Defending world champion Kerron Clement (Los Angeles, Calif.) was not in his usual form because of a groin injury, and his quest to defend his title ended as he did not advance to finals. Clement finished eighth place in his heat in 55.44.
Women’s 400m Hurdles Semifinals
Demus (Palmdale, Calif.) was unchallenged in the 400m hurdle semifinals as she finished nearly a second ahead of her nearest competitor. Demus automatically qualified by winning the third heat in 53.82.
Neither Jasmine Chaney (Mesa, Ariz.) nor Queen Harrison (Blacksburg, Va.) were able to advance to the final. Chaney ran 55.89 to finish seven in the first heat, and Harrison ran 55.44 to finish fourth in the third heat.
LaShawn Merritt, men's 400m
"I was ready. I felt good. I feel I could run another tomorrow. I felt Kirani [James] with about 15 meters to go, but I had some mechanical issues. I am feeling healthy and I am ready for the next race [4x400 relay]. It is a sweet medal. I got on the medal stand, No. 2 at the World Championships with not a lot of races. I executed my plan in the first race. I didn't quite execute this race. I am a student of the sport and I will continue to learn.”
Jenn Shur, women’s pole vault
“I had some timing at jumps, but at other jumps, I didn’t have any timing, so it is unfortunate. But we have to be realistic. We really didn’t think we were going to make it here with some injuries that were happening that weren’t really allowing me to train. It’s definitely worth the experience of coming here and competing for the USA; it’s just disappointing.”
Nick Symmonds, men's 800m
"Yuriy [Borzakovskiy] made a nice move at the homestretch which is exactly what I wanted to do. He led me right to the front of the pack. With 200 meters to go I'm in fantastic position if I'm ever going to get a medal. No one would be crazy enough to pass me on my right side but that's what Lewandowski [Marcin] had to do to get in the hunt and it cost me my lane. It cost me my whole race.
“I prayed that something would open up and nothing did. So I had to stop and move out and you'll never ever make the podium doing that in the last 100 meters. The bump is not what bothered me; it's losing the lane that will kill you. There's no way you're ever going to get there (from an outside lane). That kills your momentum. As I stopped I had my legs, but there was nowhere to go. That's the most frustrating part - knowing you had it and you just didn't create space for yourself. You spend all year dreaming about a medal. You don't dream about fifth place.
“The United States hasn't had a medal in this race since 1997. A nation with the talent we have in this event just makes me sick that we're not getting medals. I just have so much faith in the group we have right now.”
Sharon Day, women’s heptathlon
“It was definitely a solid meet, but not quite as good as I would have liked. It was a little bit slower than I wanted to run, but I think it was my fastest time this season, so I have to be happy with it.
“The multi-events are unique because everybody knows how hard everyone else is working and what a toll it is to be doing the multi-events. The camaraderie is amazing and everyone is supporting each other the whole way through, so it is really cool.”
Emma Coburn, women’s steeplechase
“I felt a little tired tonight. I made it to the final and that was my main goal. Anything tonight would have been a bonus. I was seeded 15th coming in and finished 13th and I'm happy to beat my seed. I'm happy to have the opportunity to run against the best women in the world. It was an amazing experience.
I think there might have been a bit of mental exhaustion. I wasn't freaked out there tonight. I'll take a few days off and start my cross country training. My team (University of Colorado) has a meet this weekend, but I won't race until sometime in October.”
Jason Young, men’s discus
“I thought it was going pretty well. I was a little bit short of what I thought I could do. The experience is good, but I would much rather come out of here with a better placing than I had.
“It both motivates and discourages me. I would like to continue to be a discus thrower as long as I could, but I’m in some deep crap right now. One week before I got here I lost my job. So what’s basically going on is I’m at a cross roads of being able to continue competing or not competing. I don’t know.”
Jenny Simpson, women’s 1500m
“At the bell I was thinking, ‘this is not a good position. This is really bad.’ I tried to move to the outside and it just wasn’t going my way. I kept thinking just ‘stay calm, stay calm’.
“The more situations I’m in and I survive, the better my racing instincts become. I think every single time that I look back on and think that wasn’t smart, my instincts teach me not to do that again. Just gathering more races under my belt and more experience is only going to make me better.”
Shannon Rowbury, women’s 1500m
“I felt like I was stuck back further than I would have liked to be. But I was hoping that I would get an opening to move through and go with the group. I just couldn’t quite navigate it. By the time I was able to start moving, the lead pack already had such a big gap on me that I just couldn’t catch them.
“I felt good the last 150m or so, but when you are already 10-15 meters back, you aren’t going to make up that much ground on a great field of women.”
Morgan Uceny, women’s 1500m
"I got caught on the inside a little early, but I was really happy with the way I got out of there. I didn't have to cut anyone to get out. That's not always a great place for me but I still like to keep cool and get out. My only fault was not executing the last 400m very well. I knew it was a slow pace and was going to get rolling. I should have been up a little further because once they started sprinting it’s hard to make up five meters. I lost focus for a little bit which I have to make sure I don't do in finals. I knew it was going to get rolling in the last 400m. Running in lane two, I didn't think I was running as smooth as in other races. Coming down the home stretch, I knew I had an extra gear if I needed to go to it but I didn't want to because I wanted to save it for final. I had to do a little more work than I wanted to secure a spot.
Lashinda Demus, women’s 400m hurdles
“I want to focus on what my coaches say so I don't make any mistakes like I've made in previous years. I feel good. I feel ready and I’ve trained so hard so it should come out some time and it seems like it’s happening now. If you're not ready now, you shouldn't be here.”
Queen Harrison, women’s 400m hurdles
“I actually executed my race pretty well. I didn’t get out as hard as I did in the first round. I was able to stay calm and relaxed throughout the race which is something I’ve been working on. I can’t be mad at myself. This is a new atmosphere for me. So, I think I did really, really well.
“One thing I learned about this experience is treating every race as a final and not underestimating anyone because the championships bring out the best in everybody.”
Jasmine Chaney, women’s 400m hurdles
“I didn't want to do anything stupid and everyone was saying I went out too hard the first day. It let me just relax and run my own race today, but I wish I would have got out hard like I did yesterday.
“I put it all on the track and did the best that I could so that's all I can ask for. This experience is going to help me so much for next year. Walking into this stadium and seeing all these people; it's another step forward to London. So now when I get on that stage it won't be so big.”
Angelo Taylor, men's 400m hurdles
“I got off pretty good. I think I pushed the button a little early in front of the sixth hurdle and broke my momentum going into the seventh hurdle. That's when I began to struggle. I lost my balance coming off the tenth hurdle and lost all of my momentum. It was a struggle just to get it back. Luckily I was able to fight and went strong to the finish and made it to the finals. Because I broke my momentum It made the race harder than it was.
“I won the Olympic gold in 2000 out of lane one so it doesn't matter what lane I get in the finals. It is going to be a dogfight in the final but that is what I've been training for.”
Bershawn Jackson, men’s 400m hurdles
“The race felt good. I wanted to go out and execute a good race. I didn't expect the headwind down the homestretch since we’re in the stadium, but you never know what's going to happen. I know how to adjust for the finals. We train hard for this one moment.
“I could have made my 15 steps on that last hurdle, but then I looked at the big screen to see if I was ahead and I kind of messed up a little. But overall I felt good”
Kerron Clement, men’s 400m hurdles
“For the last couple months I've been battling a groin injury. Of course, no one knows anything about it because I don't want to make any excuses about anything. I tried to push through the pain in the first round. It didn't really hurt as much in the first round. In the second round, I tried to go a little faster.
“And after the third hurdle I felt my groin pull and it really hurt me bad. I limped and I really couldn't finish the race. I'll come back next year stronger than ever.”
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