Sanya Richards-Ross and Galen Rupp lingered on the sun-baked track at Hayward Field on Friday long after their races were done, savoring moments that were memorable but for dramatically different reasons.
Richards-Ross, the 2012 Olympic 400-meter gold medalist, had said she would retire after this season, but it ended abruptly and too soon.
Pulling up when she felt “a grab” from her injured hamstring before the final turn of her first-round race in the 400 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, she was unable to finish. Her slow turn around the track became a thank you and a farewell shared by the savvy crowd and the elegant Richards-Ross, whose career will end with three Olympic gold medals and one bronze.
“I wish it could have gone better,” she said, tears sliding down her face after her final race. “I will always remember how the crowd reacted, so this will be special for me. This has been a great journey.”
Rupp lingered to celebrate his eighth straight U.S. 10,000 meter title and to take a victory lap with his nearly 2-year-old twins, Emmie and Grayson.
Rupp, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, had earned a Rio Olympic berth by winning the marathon trials in Los Angeles in February, but he wasn’t content to stop there. He made a remarkable kick in grueling heat Friday to win in 27 minutes 55.04 seconds, topping Shadrack Kipchirchir (28:01.52) and Leonard Korir (28:16.97). Afterward, Rupp was fresh enough to shake dozens of hands, wave to his hometown fans and affirm he will try for a third Olympic berth, in the 5,000. If he succeeds, he said he would compete in two of those three races in Rio.
“This was one of the harder ones for sure, if not the hardest. It was really tough in the heat and great competition too,” Rupp said. “To have my kids there and family, this was definitely a little extra-special.”
Allyson Felix of Santa Clarita, launching her attempt at a 200-400 double, finished second in her 400 heat in 51.96 seconds and advanced to Saturday’s semifinals. Felix, recovering from an ankle injury, didn’t speak to reporters after her race. NCAA record-holder Courtney Okolo of Texas had the top qualifying time, 50.78 seconds.
Only one other final was contested Friday, in the men’s shotput. Ryan Crouser of Gresham, Ore., won with a toss of 72 feet 6 ½ inches. Joe Kovacs was second at 72-0 ¼, with Darrell Hill third at 70-11 ¾. All will be first-time Olympians.
The first round of the men’s 800 produced two surprises. Former USC standout Duane Solomon, who finished fourth in the 800 at the London Olympics, didn’t advance after finishing fourth in his heat in 1:48.71. Also out was Donavan Brazier, the collegiate record-holder, who was timed in 1:48.13. UC Irvine product Charles Jock automatically advanced by finishing third in the same slow heat as Solomon, also in 1:48.71. “Definitely struggled the last two, three years,” said Jock, who had dealt with a hamstring problem. “I don’t know exactly where I’m at but I know I’m strong. The speed is there.”
Boris Berian, who trains at Big Bear Lake, led the 800 qualifying at 1:46.03. He had been the target of a lawsuit filed by Nike in a dispute over sponsorship, but Nike recently dropped the suit. Being fought over was a strange experience for Berian, who was flipping burgers at a McDonald’s two years ago. “I did have some tough days but I was pretty sure I could do something with running,” he said.
Alysia Montano, who was fifth in the women’s 800 at London but is in position to get the bronze medal due to drug disqualifications of the first- and third-place Russians, finished second in her heat in 2:00.56 and advanced to Saturday’s semifinals. Brenda Martinez of Rancho Cucamonga, who also trains at Big Bear Lake, advanced by winning her heat in 2:00.85. “It was a little bit warm, but Rio is going to be really hot so you’ve got to just go with it,” she said.
In the high jump, 18-year-old U.S.indoor champion Vashti Cunningham was among four women who cleared 6 feet ½ inch without a miss to advance to Sunday’s final. Former Riverside resident Chaunte Lowe, trying for her fourth Olympic team, also advanced.
Jeremy Wariner, 32, who won gold in the 400 at Athens and silver at Beijing, finished fourth in his heat in 45.88 seconds and moved on to the semifinals. “We’ve got a great, young, talented group coming up, so I think we’ll be fine from here on out,” he said. Beijing gold medalist LaShawn Merritt (45.54) also advanced. The top qualifier was David Verburg at 45.31
Stephanie Brown Trafton, the 2008 Olympic discus gold medalist and aspiring four-time Olympian, advanced to Saturday’s final with a throw of 199 feet 5 inches.Brittney Reese, the London Olympic women’s long jump gold medalist, led qualifying in that event with a leap of 23 feet.