Hot favourite Allyson Felix decimated a star-studded field to win the women’s 200m in 21.88 seconds, as the United States powered forward to reiterate its class in track and field with three gold, and seven medals in all, on an exhilarating Wednesday evening at the Olympic Stadium.
After chasing Veronica Campbell-Brown unsuccessfully in Athens and Beijing, when she won silver, the 26-year-old Felix, three-time world champion in the event, executed a superb race. She got off the blocks quickly, held a slight edge on the bend, warded off a threat from 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, by holding on comfortably in the last 50m, to finish a stride ahead of the Jamaican.
“I just wanted to get out well and come off the kerb and dive at the line. I knew that if I didn’t get out there I wouldn’t have had a chance. It feels like I finally executed the race,” said Felix who was quite tense before the start but back to her smiling best in the end.
While Fraser-Pryce got the silver with a personal best of 22.09, Carmelita Jeter added the bronze to her 100m silver with a 22.14. Two-time champion Campbell-Brown was fourth in 22.38, while the 400m champion Sanya Richards-Ross of the US was fifth in 22.39.
The 100m champion captured the mood beautifully when she said, “if they ever put a 200 metres field like that again, I would never run”.
Robles hobbles off
In another field that was tipped to be as intense, Aries Merritt won the 110m hurdles gold on expected lines, as the defending champion and world record holder Dayron Robles of Cuba clutched his right hamstring after the seventh hurdle in the final.
Merritt won in 12.92 seconds 0.01 away from the Olympic record set by Liu Xiang in Athens. It may be recalled that Chinese superstar had crashed into the first hurdle in the heats and retired.
“I had a decent start and then I just tried to keep my momentum building. When I touched off the last hurdle, I just ran for the line,” said Merritt, quite pleased with the time after running into a slight head-wind.
World champion Jason Richardson added the silver medal to the US tally in 13.04 seconds, while Hansie Parchment won the bronze in 13.12, a national record for Jamaica.
Two-time World champion Brittney Reese of the US extended her domination of the circuit into the Olympics by winning gold with a second leap of 7.12 metres in the long jump. She had three fouls and a 6.69 fifth attempt but was well aware that the gold was in her kitty. “Today my whole approach was to run full speed and jump. I got more fouls because I wanted to be in the 7.20 range,” said Reese.
Russia’s Elena Sokolova, who had a personal best of 7.07 in her second jump, had a 6.78 or better in all her six attempts. She collected the silver, 18 centimetres ahead of Janay Deloach of the US. Ineta Radevica of Latvia was one centimetre behind in the fourth place.
It was left to the European champion and world No.1 Natalya Antyukh of Russia to deny a golden sweep for the US, as she ran a personal best of 52.70 seconds in the 400m hurdles to beat Lashinda Demus of the US by 0.07 second. The effort was 0.06 short of the Olympic record set in Beijing by Melaine Walker of Jamaica. Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic ran her season best for the bronze in 53.38.
The 31-year-old Antyukh, who had won the 400m bronze and the relay silver at Athens, had taken the risk of shifting to the hurdles. Though she had won the European title in 2010 in Barcelona, Antyukh did not believe that she could do it on the Olympic stage.
“The Athens bronze was my dearest. Today I will start loving this gold. I did not realise at first because I thought Lashinda had caught up with me. When I saw Lashinda’s expression, I looked up to the scoreboard and I knew I had won,” said the Russian.