Smooth morning of qualifying; Team USA still leading decathlon
LONDON - On a short morning session of qualifying action, a packed crowd at Olympic Stadium watched on as the U.S. men’s 4x400m team rolled smoothly to the final, two U.S. women advanced to the high jump final, and Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee maintained their lead in the decathlon.
Eaton and Hardee’s performances in the 110m hurdles and the discus have extended their lead over Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine who sits in third. Hardee set a lifetime best as he won the 110m hurdles in 13.54 to add 1035 points to his tally. Eaton was close behind in 13.56 (1032 points). In the discus, Hardee finished 2nd with a mark of 49.11m/161-1 (852 points) while Eaton finished 15th with a throw of 42.53m/139-6 (716 points). After seven events Eaton sits in first with 6,409 points, Hardee is in second with 6,310 points and Kasyanov is in third with 6,111 points. Competition in the pole vault is ongoing.
The young relay squad of Manteo Mitchell (Cullowhee, N.C.), Josh Mance (Los Angeles, Calif.), Tony McQuay (Gainesville, Fla.) and Bryshon Nellum (Los Angeles, Calif.) executed a smooth and quick race to secure Team USA’s spot in the 4x400m final. With Mitchell being the eldest member of the team at 25, the group of first-time Olympians turned in the second best relay in the world this year as they crossed the line in 2:58.87. The men were second overall as they finished with an identical time with the Bahamas.
In heat 2 Mitchell ran the first leg out of lane 3 and kept Team USA in the mix as he passed the baton to Mance who found himself in 6th place as he broke to the inside lane. Over the second leg, Mance was able to move up through the field to hand off to McQuay and put Team USA into second. McQuay quickly closed the gap and pulled along side his Bahamian counterpart to exchange batons simultaneously as he handed off to Nellum. Running the anchor leg, Nellum ran a stride behind the Bahamas’ Chris Brown, and over the last 20 meters of the race he moved up to cross the line seemingly simultaneously.
The close race was won by the Bahamas by a hair, with the U.S. second; running out of heat 1, Trinidad and Tobago clocked the third fastest time of the day in a national record of 3:00.38.
For the sixth time in Olympic history, and the first time since 1984, Team USA will have two women competing in the final of the high jump. Chaunte Lowe (Loganville, Ga.) and Brigetta Barrett (Tucson, Ariz.) advanced to Saturday’s final as they both cleared 1.93m/6-4. Lowe sailed through each increase of the bar without a miss, and Barrett faltered once at 1.93, but cleared on her second attempt. Five-time Olympian Amy Acuff (Austin, Texas) cleared 1.85m/6-0.75, but did not advance to the final.
Brigetta Barrett, High Jump: “I was having a lot of fun until 1.96...All glory be to god I only had one miss and I made it into the finals, next time I’m just going to jump, because I know I can clear 1.96. I know that is a height I can clear, and I was trying to save myself extra jumps, but next time I should just be clean through.”
Chaunte Lowe, High Jump: “We’re going into the final, a lot of us didn’t have to jump the last height at 1.96, so we’re really happy about that.”
Manteo Mitchell, 1st leg 4x400m: “I felt pretty good about the race, of course my main goal and what the coaches wanted me to do was establish the pace as the pop-off leg, and I feel like I did that. I caught a small cramp down the finish, but I just wanted to finish strong and have a good leg and set up Josh for the second leg...We’re just here to show that we are the future and we can do it.”
Josh Mance, 2nd leg 4x400m: “My leg was good. I kind of got boxed in at 250 and I was a little far back, but I brought us back to second place, which I’m a happy about it, but I know I can do better than that. I know we can all run better legs, and we’re all excited and happy for today’s results.”
Tony McQuay,3rd leg 4x400m: “I felt like I did a pretty good job I just kept it close for my boy Bryshon...I think I did a good job coming home strong and kept it close...Overall I’m proud with the team our goal was to qualify, so that mission is complete and we are going into the finals with a great lane.”
Bryshon Nellum, 4th leg 4x400m: “We just wanted to come out here and qualify for the next round, from the first leg all the way to the fourth leg, and we came out here and did that.”
Competition resumes this afternoon with Team USA in the finals of the men’s triple jump, 800m and 200m and the conclusion of the decathlon. For more information on the 2012 Olympic Games, visit www.usatf.org