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Taylor & Claye defend their Olympic triple jump medals, 13 advance from morning prelims

8/16/2016
 

Athlete Quotes - Olympics, Day 5


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -- Tuesday morning was a dose of déjà vu, as 2012 Olympic gold and silver triple jump medalists Christian Taylor (Fayetteville, Georgia) and Will Claye (Phoenix, Arizona) repeated their medal finishes in Rio to add to Team USA’s medal haul at Olympic Stadium.


The defending Olympic gold and silver medalists from the London Games reigned supreme once again, as Taylor and Claye were head and shoulders above the field from the first jump. On his opening attempt of the competition, Taylor leapt a season’s best and world-leading 17.86m/58-7.25 to claim the top spot on the podium. The mark was a full four inches better than the personal bests of the triple jump field. Claye’s first attempt also proved to be a medal-clincher, as he recorded a personal best 17.76m/58-3.25 on his initial jump to take the silver and claim his third career Olympic medal.


The duo did not improve on their initial jumps throughout the competition, though Taylor fouled his final jump by only 8 cm and landed beyond the world record line. China’s Bin Dong captured bronze with a personal best 17.58m/57-8.25, nearly a foot away from Taylor’s world lead.


Taylor becomes the fifth man and second American man to defend his Olympic triple jump gold, and Claye is the first man in history to defend his silver medal. The excitement wasn’t over after the jumping ended, however, as Claye found his longtime girlfriend, two-time Olympian Queen Harrison, in the stands and proposed.


As expected, all 3 advance in women’s 100m hurdles

Perhaps the strongest event for Team USA, the women’s 100m hurdles heats went as expected with all three Americans easily winning their heats. Heat one was fairly even through the first five flights of hurdles. From there, Kristi Castlin (Atlanta, Georgia) stamped her authority and moved away to win convincingly in 12.68.


Two-time World Indoor 60m hurdles gold medalist Nia Ali (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was out of the blocks well in the second heat, and by the third barrier she was pulling clear of the field. Ali efficiently skimmed the final seven flights and won in 12.76.


Showing the form that propelled her to an Olympic Trials title, Brianna Rollins (Miami, Florida) zipped away from the field from the gun in heat six and had the fastest time of all the heats in 12.54.


Houlihan, D’Agostino to compete in women’s 5000m final

In the first heat of the women’s 5000m, Miyuki Uehara of Japan took the pace out quickly, taking up to a 50m lead for the first half of the race. Shelby Houlihan (Sioux City, Iowa) and Kim Conley (Sacramento, California) were firmly ensconced in the chase pack, which eventually realized Uehara was not going to fade as quickly as expected. As the gap on the leader closed, Houlihan and Conley were near the back of the chase pack of 10. With a lap to go, Houlihan turned on the jets and started to move quickly to make up a sizable gap. With more than 30m to catch the lead group of five, Houlihan looked composed and powerful as she made up ground, finishing fourth in 15:19.76 to qualify automatically for the final. Conley finished 12th in 15:36.00.  


Abbey D’Agostino (Topsfield, Massachusetts) was running near the back of the closely-bunched pack through 3,000m in the second heat when Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand fell in front of her and brought D’Agostino down very painfully. D’Agostino sat on the track for a few moments before getting up gingerly and trying to continue. With Hamblin’s assistance she got back into running stride, but by then the duo were far behind the field. Both women gamely finished, and D’Agostino was 16th in 17:10.02. She was advanced to the final after a successful protest by Team USA staff.


American trio advance

World Indoor champion Matthew Centrowitz (Portland, Oregon) tucked into second place through the first lap of heat one of the men’s 1500m. As the pack moved through 800m the pace picked up and Centrowitz found himself falling back a few spots. Covering a strong move by Kenya’s 2008 Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop heading to the last turn, Centrowitz wisely positioned himself for one of the six automatic qualifying spots and carried through to take fifth in 3:39.31.


A sluggish early pace in heat two allowed Robby Andrews (Manalapan, New Jersey) to jog along near the back of the pack that went through 800m in 2:11.67. With only the top six likely to advance, the mad dash for the semis started with one lap to go, with Andrews moving to safety on the outside. Unholstering his trademark kick coming off the curve, Andrews finished third in 3:46.97 to move on easily.


Eleven seconds faster through 800m than the previous heat, Ben Blankenship (Stillwater, Minnesota) held second place through 1100m. Almost everyone was still in striking distance and the pack moved as a whole over the final lap. Blankenship avoided the jostling, opened the throttles and finished ninth in 3:38.92, securing one of the time qualifier spots.


Suhr, Morris advance out of women’s pole vault qualifying

Reigning Olympic champion Jenn Suhr (Fredonia, New York) overcame lingering illness to clear the automatic qualifying height of 4.60m/15-1.25 on her first attempt after requiring two tries at 4.55m/14-11.25. World Indoor silver medalist Sandi Morris (Greenville, South Carolina) took only two vaults with a clean sheet and also advanced as one of the top 12 with her 4.55m/14-11.25.


NCAA winner Lexi Weeks (Cabot, Arkansas) cleared 4.45m/14-7.25 on her second try, but couldn’t negotiate 4.55m/14-11.25 and did not advance.


Gatlin, Merritt begin second Rio medal quests

2016 100m silver medalist Justin Gatlin (Pensacola, Florida) keyed on Ramon Gittens of Barbados to his outside in heat five and eased past him with 70m to go, then strided to the finish and won in 20.42.


2016 400m bronze medalist LaShawn Merritt (Portsmouth, Virginia) was out well in his 200m heat, cruising to a 20.15 victory courtesy of a strong run around the curve to run the fifth-fastest time of the prelims.


Ameer Webb (Tustin, California) utilized a fast start out of the blocks to come through third in his heat in 20.31, and advanced as the final qualifier on-time.


Follow along with all of the action from the Rio Olympic Games by following USATF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #Rio2016. Fans can follow every second of the Rio Olympic Games on the NBC family of networks. All track & field action can be streamed live via the NBC Sports app and the broadcast schedule for tomorrow is as follows:


TUESDAY, AUGUST 16 (all times ET)

8:00 p.m. – Midnight

NBC


TEAM USA MEDAL TABLE

Gold (3)

Michelle Carter, Women’s SP, 20.63m/67-8.25 AR (8/12)

Jeffrey Henderson, Men’s LJ, 8.38m/27-6 (8/13)

Christian Taylor, Men’s TJ, 17.86m/58-7.25 (8/16)


Silver (4)

Tori Bowie, Women’s 100m, 10.83 (8/13)

Justin Gatlin, Men’s 100m, 9.89 (8/14)

Allyson Felix, Women’s 400m, 49.51 (8/15)

Will Claye, Men’s TJ, 17.76m/58-3.25 (8/16)


Bronze (4)

LaShawn Merritt, Men’s 400m, 43.85 (8/14)

Emma Coburn, Women’s 3000m Steeple, 9:07.63 AR (8/15)

Clayton Murphy, Men’s 800m, 1:42.93 (8/15)

Sam Kendricks, Men’s PV, 5.85m/19-2.5 (8/15)



Amanda Brooks
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