Allyson Felix comes up short in women’s 200 meters at Olympic trials
For what seemed like an eternity Sunday there was a blank spot on the Hayward Field scoreboard where the name of the third-place finisher of the women’s 200 meters should have been. Allyson Felix, laboring on a sore ankle, and a diving Jenna Prandini had reached the finish line in such a blur that no one was sure who got that third spot and a Rio Olympics berth.
A few minutes earlier, Brenda Martinez had endured similar suspense in the women’s 1,500-meter race. Martinez, who had tripped in the 800 and lost her Olympic chance at that distance, was sixth with one lap to go Sunday and made a desperate lunge for third and the last Olympic spot. To her right, Amanda Eccleston was frantically trying for the same goal.
The last gasp-effort by Martinez, a crowd favorite after her misfortune in the 800, was successful. A late lean didn’t work for Felix, ending her hopes of winning a 200-400 double in Rio and adding unexpected drama as the trials wrapped up.
“It’s track,” said Martinez, whose time of 4 minutes 6.16 seconds put her .03 ahead of Eccleston and behind Jenny Simpson (4:04.74) and Shannon Rowbury (4:05.39). “It’s exciting and you just trust that you’ve done the work and you’re ready for anything.”
That was the problem for Felix, who had won the trials 400. Her injury had prevented her from doing enough speed work, costing her a chance to defend her Olympic 200 title.
“I could only do what I could with the ankle and unfortunately that’s what suffered,” said Felix, who was timed in 22.54 seconds, behind winner Tori Bowie (22.25), former California junior college champion Deajah Stevens (22.30) and Prandini (22.53). “I gave it all I have but it just wasn’t enough today. I leaned at the line and it just wasn’t there.”
Prandini, who competed for Oregon, said she knew only that Felix was close to her and that she didn’t intend to dive and fall forward.
“But I’m happy that it happened because it got me third place,” Prandini said.
Understandably, Felix was disappointed at losing a shot at the double.
“But when I look back and I see everything that happened I think it’s quite amazing I was able to make this team,” said Felix, who will be in the relay pool.
Bowie had made the U.S. team with a third-place finish in the 100. Molly Huddle, the trials 10,000 winner, won the 5,000 on Sunday in 15:05.01, but said she likely will give up her 5,000 spot. Shelby Houlihan (15:06.14) and Kim Conley (15:10.62) could be joined by fourth-place finisher Emily Infeld, though she might also stick to the 10,000, in which she was second.
Former USC standout Dalilah Muhammad thought she got out “a little fast” in the women’s 400 hurdles but it launched her to victory in a deep field. She won in 52.88 seconds, a meet record and personal-best time, followed by Ashley Spencer (54.02) and 16-year-old Sydney McLaughlin of Scotch Plains, N.J., whose time of 54.15 set a junior world record.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” said Muhammad, who lives in Glendale and trains in Northridge. “You hope for this since you’re a little girl. I’ve been running since I was 7 years old.”
McLaughlin will be the youngest member of the U.S. track and field team. She sounded like it.
“My mind was on finishing the race and eating a cheeseburger,” she said.
Recent USC graduate Jaide Stepter was seventh in a personal-best 54.95
Kerron Clement, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist, was second after the final hurdle but used his speed to win the men’s 400 hurdles in 48.50 seconds, with Byron Robinson second (48.79) and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley third (48.82).
Barbara Nwaba of Los Angeles had a big enough lead before the finale of the heptathlon — the 800 — that she didn’t have to win that race. The third-best time was enough for her to finish first overall with 6,494 points, with Heather Miller-Koch second (6,423) and Kendell Williams third (6,402).
“I crossed the line and thought, ‘Wow, I’m an Olympian,’ ” said Nwaba, who trains in Santa Barbara.
But Sharon Day-Monroe of Costa Mesa missed a third Olympic berth by finishing fourth, with 6,385 points, after struggling in the long jump in an impressive field.
“It’s the best we’ve ever had and I knew it was going to be like that,” she said. “I knew that I was going to have to be on my game and it just wasn’t quite there.”
Erik Kynard, the London high jump silver medalist, earned a Rio berth by clearing 2.29 meters (7 feet 6). The only other competitors who had reached the Olympic standard of 2.29 were third-place finisher Ricky Robertson and sixth-place finisher Trey Culver.
Jenn Suhr, the London Olympic pole vault champion, won Sunday with a leap of 4.80 meters (15-9). With 2008 Olympic gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva barred from Rio because of the doping scandal engulfing the Russian federation, Suhr’s repeat chances look good.
“I’ve always said that I want to compete against the best if everything is on the up and up. And if people that know more than I do say she’s in, then she’s in,” Suhr said. “Right now I have no control over it. I’m just happy that I’m in. I am stressed. I’m really stressed. I’m just glad that it’s over.”
Matt Centrowitz ended the 10-day meet with a trials-record time of 3:34.09 in the men’s 1,500. Runners who previously lacked the Olympic qualifying standard pushed the pace.
“When I finished and saw how fast it was I was pretty stoked because I knew what the trials record was,” said Centrowitz, who beat Robby Andrews (3:34.88) and Ben Blankenship (3:36.18).
And he didn’t have to dive to do it.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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