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Richards-Ross’s record leads busy day of finals at U.S. Olympic Trials

Eugene, Ore. – In a day packed with finals, no fewer than 21 athletes punched their tickets for the London Olympic Games in front of a crowd of 27,013 to set a Hayward Field attendance record for the second day in a row.

Sprinting to the front with 120 meters to go, Sanya Richards-Ross raced her way into the record books Sunday with a world-leading 49.28 in the 400 that tied the Olympic Trials meet record set by Chandra Cheeseborough in 1984. Francena McCorory, the indoor American Record holder, set the early pace in the lane outside Richards-Ross, but had to hang on down the stretch as DeeDee Trotter clocked 50.02 to make her third-straight Olympic squad. McCorory was third in 50.43.

Defending Olympic 400 champion LaShawn Merritt keyed off Penn State’s Brady Gehret through the first 250 meters before powering ahead on the way to a world-leading 44.12. NCAA champion Tony McQuay of Florida lowered his personal best to 44.49 to take second, and comeback kid Bryshon Nellum of USC rolled to a PR 44.80 to place third. Nellum missed two years of competition after suffering a gunshot wound to his leg in 2008, and failed to make the NCAA final this year in Des Moines. Trojan teammate Josh Mance was fourth at 44.88.

In the marquee event of the evening, 2004 Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin zipped to a U.S.-leading 9.80 to take the top spot on the podium to make his second Olympic team. In only his second meet of the year, defending Trials champion Tyson Gay ran to second place in 9.86. Local favorite Ryan Bailey edged Mike Rodgers for the third position, 9.93-9.94 to make his first Olympic team. Doc Patton was the fifth man to dip under 10 seconds, clocking 9.96.

Marquise Goodwin used a lifetime best on his final attempt in the men’s long jump to defend his national championship and make his first Olympic Team. The NCAA champion for Texas two weeks ago, Goodwin waged a see-saw battle with World Indoor triple jump champ Will Claye, and needed his 8.33m/27-4 sixth jump to top the 8.23m/27-0 by Claye in round three. The third spot on the London team went to one of the feel-good stories of the Trials thus far, as George Kitchens, Jr., blasted to a lifetime-best 8.21m/26-11.25 to nab third and meet the Olympic A standard on his third attempt. In 2009 here, Kitchens had a wind-aided jump of 8.23m/27-0 to finish third, but did not qualify for the World Championships in Berlin as he did not have a wind-legal A standard.

Two-time Olympian Reese Hoffa exploded with a world-leading 22.00m/72-2.25 in the third round to win his third U.S. outdoor shot put title, taking the measure of World Indoor champ Ryan Whiting and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Christian Cantwell. Whiting’s opening 21.66m/71-0.75 was the leader until Hoffa’s big put, and Cantwell popped a 21.28/69-9.75 in round three. Penn State’s Joe Kovacs launched a big PR 21.08/69-2 in the third stanza to claim fourth.

Reigning Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton qualified for her third Olympic team with a massive 65.18m/213-10 on her final attempt in the women’s discus, and two of her other throws would have been good enough to win. Making her fourth Olympic team in second place was Aretha Thurmond with a toss of 62.23m/204-2, and third went to former American Record holder Suzy Powell-Roos.  Since Powell-Roos does not have the A standard, the third spot on the London squad will go to sixth-place Gia Lewis-Smallwood.

It only took three jumps for 2008 pole vault silver medalist Jenn Suhr to claim her sixth U.S. outdoor title and second straight Trials gold. The American record holder entered the competition at 4.55m/14-11 and cleared on her second try, then made it over 4.60m/15-1 first time to take the top spot. Former Oregon Duck Becky Holliday’s 4.55m/14-11 leap gave her the runner-up spot, while Lacy Janson, who took fifth at this year’s World Indoor Championships, garnered her first Olympic berth with a 4.50m/14-9 clearance.

Full live results, athlete quotes and start lists for tomorrow’s competition can be found

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