OSTRAVA, Czech Republic - Becky O'Brien was a surprise eighth-place finisher in the girls' discus and Team USA advanced every runner to the next round Wednesday on the opening day of the 5th IAAF World Youth Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
O'Brien (Cumberland, Maine), who is better established as a shot putter, was the 11th qualifier from the morning preliminary round, and she hit her best throw of the evening final on her first attempt. Her 44.48 meters/145-11 effort put her eighth after the first three attempts, and she retained that position. Erin Pendleton (Lindsey, Ohio) did not qualify for the final with her 43.46m/142-7 in the morning session.
"When you wear the USA uniform, you know you have a job to do," O'Brien said. "It was a little tough to throw in the morning and then come back in the evening and compete again, but it is great preparation for the future. I am excited about the shot put and want to win a medal here."
In the day's only other final involving Team USA, Cameron Tabor (Norman, Okla.) finished 10th in the boys' shot put with a best of 18.10m/59-4.75. Tabor, who will also throw the discus, had a personal best of 19.50m/63-11.75 in the morning qualifying round. Michael Barbas (Houston, Texas) did not advance to the final with his 17.87m/58-7.5 toss.
Curtis Beach (Albuquerque, N.M.) used a sterling 48.82 in the 400 to close out the first day of the boys' octathlon in seventh place with 3,120 points. Beach ran a season-best 11.20 in the 100 and added a 6.69m/21-11.5 long jump and a 13.41m/44-0 effort in the shot. Eusebio Caceres of Spain leads with 3,320.
Team USA athletes forge ahead
Hurdlers Wayne Davis (Raleigh, N.C.) and William Wynne (Kennesaw, Ga.) showed they are head and shoulders above the rest of the world in the 110 meter race, as both runners easily advanced to the final. Davis, who had a barely-windy 13.38 in the first round, won his semifinal with a personal-best 13.44, while Wynne, who had a world youth-leading 13.39 in the prelims, dashed to a 13.42 in the second semi.
Wynne said, "I was just relaxing and trying to pull away more each hurdle. There wasn't any stress in this race, and I just wanted to qualify for the final. It will be a great race tomorrow against Wayne."
Davis, who hit the fifth hurdle hard in his semifinal, said, "If we can go 1-2 for Team USA it will be great. This race was more like a practice run for me, and the final will be good. I want to get the world youth record."
Jordan Hasay (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) made the most of her first international experience, winning her heat of the 1,500 over Kenya's Sheila Kiprotich. Her trademark flowing waist-length blonde hair presented a vivid contrast to the Kenyan's economical style as Hasay led the pack through 800 in 2:25.76 and 1200 in 3:34.84. She held off Kiprotich over the final 300 with a 51.22 to finish at 4:26.06 and advance to the final.
Kenneth Gilstrap (Lithonia, Ga.) set a lifetime best of 10.55 in the second round of the 100, the fastest qualifying time, and Isaiah Sweeney (Houston, Texas) also advanced to the semifinal with a 10.74 in his section. "I was really up through 80 meters," said Gilstrap. "My coach told me not to high-step in the race, so tomorrow I will try and smooth that out and make the final."
Both Team USA runners advanced in the girls' 100, with Ashton Purvis (Oakland, Calif.) and Erica Alexander (Friendswood, Texas) moving on to the semifinal. Purvis battled a 1.2 mps headwind to clock 12.09 and take second in her section, while Alexander overcame two false starts and a call-up to run 11.75 and place second in the final heat. Purvis and Alexander tied for the fourth-fastest time in the prelims at 11.74.
In the girls' 400, Meshawn Graham (Toledo, Ohio) and Brianna Frazier (Jacksonville, Fla.) won their first-round heats to advance to the semifinal. Graham had the fifth-fastest time at 55.12, and Frazier was eighth-fastest at 55.46.
Danzell Fortson (Fort Worth, Texas) easily won his preliminary heat of the boys' 400, notching the third-fastest time overall with his 47.71.
Team USA produced two heat winners in the boys' 800, too, as Howard Shepard (Dallas, Texas) captured his section in 1:53.76 and Dylan Ferris (Kernersville, N.C.) took his heat in 1:55.09 to advance to the semifinal.
Action resumes Thursday at 10 a.m. with the octathlon 110 hurdles and qualifying in the boys' hammer throw, and the meet continues through Sunday.
For more information on Team USA at the World Youth Championships, including links to full results, visit http://www.usatf.org/events/2007/IAAFWorldYouthChampionships/