Chaunte Howard Lowe wins third U.S. high jump title

DES MOINES -- She shimmied. Did a little jig. Asked the crowd to clap encouragement for her jumps. Collapsed sobbing in the pit and lay there nearly a minute when she broke the U.S. high jump record on her 12th attempt of the competition at the U.S. championships.

After expending all that energy in winning a third consecutive U.S. high jump title in 90-degree heat and swirling winds, Chaunte Howard Lowe went to the long jump pit and crushed her old personal best to finish second in that event.

She insists her priority is the high jump, but Saturday's performances have encouraged Lowe to think about the unusual jump double at the 2011 worlds and 2012 Olympics.

This was believed to be the first time since Babe Didrikson in 1932 that a woman won medals in both at nationals.

"This is really my trial to see how I will be able to handle both at a major championship," Lowe said.

Lowe managed it at this meet, with no qualifying rounds, despite having done no long jump training since April.

It has been that kind of season for the 26-year-old from Atlanta, who grew up in Riverside, Calif.

A month ago, she high jumped 6 feet 8 1/4 inches to break the 22-year-old national record. Saturday, Lowe upped it to 6-8 3/4 but decided not to take a shot at the 23-year-old world record of 6-10 1/4 belonging to Stefka Kostandinova of Bulgaria.

"Mentally, I don't think I was ready for that," Lowe said.

When she arrived at the long jump, Lowe did a little trash-talking before becoming the 10th-best U.S. jumper ever at 22-7 3/4, seven inches behind winner Brittney Reese. Lowe's previous best was 21-8 1/4

"She said we shouldn't let a high jumper beat us," third-place finisher Brianna Glenn said. "When you're the 10th-best ever, that's real long jumping."

Despite the weather, it was a day of strong performances at Drake Stadium.

Bershawn Jackson won the 400 hurdles in 47.32 seconds, fastest in the world since the 2008 Olympics; reigning Olympic silver medalist Hyleas Fountain had a 2010 world-leading score of 6,735 in the heptathlon; Debbie Dunn (49.64) and Greg Nixon (44.61) had world-leading times in the 400 meters.

Neither of the country's top active quarter-milers, reigning world champion Sanya Richards-Ross and 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner, made it through the final Saturday.

Wariner pulled up and collapsed to the track after 100 meters with a right hip flexor problem.

Richards-Ross elected not to run the final after struggling through the first two rounds, her fitness compromised by training time lost to a nagging quadriceps issue that began in late April.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World