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US Trials Opening Night Features Flanagan/Goucher 10K Tussle

usatf.Stirring performances put Flanagan, Goucher and Yoder Begley on Olympic Team

EUGENE,
Ore. – In a race that truly captured the essence of the Olympic Trials,
three fast and determined women became the first athletes to qualify
for the Olympic Games from Friday’s opening day of competition at the
2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field.

The
top three finishers in each event at these Olympic Trials, who have met
Olympic performance standards, will earn the ultimate prize of a spot
on the Team USA roster for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
The need for that Olympic A standard was writ large in the women’s
10,000m, run at 9:20 p.m. on a humid evening.

6.2-mile drama

As
she did at the Women’s Marathon Olympic Trials April 20 in Boston,
Magdalena Lewy-Boulet took the early lead in the 10,000 and paced the
field through 10 laps. But 13 minutes into the race, American record
holder Shalane Flanagan decided the pace wasn’t to her liking and led
World Outdoor bronze medalist Kara Goucher and Amy Yoder Begley away
from the pack, dropping the pace by nearly 10 seconds per lap, down to
71 for one quick lap.

A Nike Oregon Project
athlete who was a two-time NCAA champion and 16-time All-American while
at the University of Arkansas, Yoder Begley entered the Olympic Trials
lacking the Olympic “A” qualifying standard of 31:45:00 – a time she
needed to beat in order to ensure a place on the team. Knowing a ticket
to Beijing was on the line, Yoder Begley took the lead with seven laps
to go, in pursuit of the A standard. Flanagan and Goucher again took
over with three laps to go, and with 300m to go, Flanagan turned on the
speed and pulled away to win in 31:34.81, a Hayward Field record, with
Goucher second in 31:37.72.

But it was Yoder
Begley’s solo race for third that was most inspiring. Running alone and
visibly digging for every available bit of energy, she needed to cover
the final 800 meters in 2:20 to beat the 31:45 standard. It took
minutes after she crossed the finish line for her time to be displayed
on the scoreboard, but when it did, it was cause for celebration. 31
minutes, 43.60 seconds. Yoder Begley made it to Beijing with 1.40
seconds to spare.

Hot hot hot women’s 100

As
expected, the women’s 100 is shaping up as one of the toughest
competitions on the card. In Friday’s quarterfinal heats, the second
round of 100m action on Friday, Marshevet Hooker became the
fifth-fastest woman in history, under any conditions, when she ran a
wind-aided 10.76 (+3.4) to win the first heat, leading Olympic silver
medalist Lauryn Williams (10.86) across the line. Only Florence
Griffith-Joyner, Marion Jones, Christine Arron of France and Merlene
Ottey of Jamaica have ever run faster than Hooker, either wind-legal or
wind-aided. In the second heat, World Outdoor bronze medalist Carmelita
Jeter ran a personal-best 10.97 (+0.7), with Allyson Felix second in
10.98. 2003 world champion Torri Edwards easily won the third heat in
10.85 (+2.3), easing up significantly in the final meters, with Muna
Lee second 10.89. All told, eight women ran under 11 seconds in that
round.

Hooker also ran the fastest overall time in
the first round, with a wind-aided 10.94 (+2.2), as Lee had fastest
with a legal wind (11.00, +1.8).

Fabulous Fountain

Two-time
USA outdoor champion Hyleas Fountain was in the driver’s seat of the
heptathlon after day 1 of competition, with three personal bests, three
records and three first-place event finishes in four events. The
27-year-old resident of Dayton, Ohio, got the Olympic Trials off with a
bang in the first event of the meet, the women’s heptathlon 100m
hurdles. Her time of 12.65, worth 1,178 points on scoring tables, broke
three records: American record, heptathlon 100m hurdles (12.69, Jackie
Joyner-Kersee, 1988, Seoul); Olympic Trials record, heptathlon 100m
hurdles (12.71, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, 1988, Indianapolis); and USA
National Championship record, heptathlon 100m hurdles (12.77, Jackie
Joyner-Kersee, 1991, NYC).

Fountain cleared
1.81m/5-11.25 in the high jump for 991 points (tied for 2nd), threw a
personal-best 13.67m/44-10.25 in the shot put (772 points, 1st) and ran
another personal best, 23.31 (1048 points, +1.3 mps) in the 200m to win
that events as well. She ended the day with 3,989 points. Diana Pickler
was in second with 3,750 points and Jacquelyn Johnson was third with
3,717.

Favorites move on in 400 hurdles

Winning
their heats in the first round of the women’s 400 hurdles were 2004
Olympic Trials champion Sheena Johnson Tosta (56.07), 2005 World
Outdoor silver medalist Lashinda Demus (56.98), 2008 Visa Champion
Tiffany Ross-Williams (55.47) and Miriam Barnes (56.23). In a surprise,
2007 NCAA champion Nicole Leach hit the seventh hurdle in the fourth
heat and did not advance.

Winning their heats in
the first round of the men’s 400m hurdles were Terry Thornton (49.54),
Bershawn Jackson (49.63), Reuben McCoy (49.87) and Jeshua Anderson
(49.05). Among the favorites easily advancing were world champion
Kerron Clement (49.13) and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Angelo Taylor
(49.34).

Field event qualifying

The
men’s shot put qualifying round brought no surprises, with the “big
three” of Adam Nelson (21.03m/69-0), Reese Hoffa (20.99m/68-10.5) and
Christian Cantwell (20.82m/68-3.75) all advancing to Saturday’s final
on their first throws.

Two-time defending U.S.
outdoor champion Shani Marks led qualifying in the women’s triple jump
with a mark of 14.34m/47-00.75 (+2.1mps). The final will be held on
Sunday. 2005 USA outdoor champion Miguel Pate had the top mark in men’s
long jump with 8.24m/27-0.50.

American record
holder Brad Walker led men’s pole vault qualifying with a first-attempt
clearance at 5.60m/18-4.5. All other top contenders advanced through,
including Olympic gold and silver medalists Tim Mack and Toby
Stevenson, but local favorite Tommy Skipper failed to clear a height.
The field will compete in the final on Sunday. The women’s discus final
also is set for Sunday, with Stephanie Brown-Trafton the top qualifier
on Friday (63.61m/208-8).

800m rounds feature a few surprises

With
the favorites advancing, it was a teen-ager in the women’s 800m who
most caught the eye of the Hayward Field crowd. Laura Roesler, a
16-year-old high schooler from North Dakota who was running in a
uniform purchased at Target, advanced to the semifinal by placing
fourth in the first heat in 2:04.03. Winning their heats were two-time
Olympian Hazel Clark (2:03.65), 2006 USA Indoor champion Alice Schmidt
(2:03.58) and Kameisha Bennett (2:04.85). Defending national champion
Alysia Johnson was ninth in the third heat and did not advance.

Lopez
Lomong ran a speedy first heat in the men’s 800, finishing in 1:46.91,
while Eugene resident Nick Symmonds slowed things down in heat 2,
winning in 1:49.01. Another Eugene favorite, the University of Oregon’s
Andrew Wheating, won heat 3 in 1:47.85.

Easing through the 5000s

The
men’s 5,000m semifinal rounds were slow and tactical in preparation for
Monday’s final. Matt Tegenkamp, fourth at the 2007 World Outdoor
Championships, won a first heat that included world champion Bernard
Lagat and 2000 Olympic Trials champion Adam Goucher in 13:54.62.
University of Oregon student Galen Rupp won the second semi in 13:59.14.

1980 Olympic Team honored

Members
of the 1980 Olympic Team, who qualified at the Olympic Trials held on
this track 28 years ago, were introduced in a ceremony prior to the
start of the women’s 100m heats. The group, including National Track
& Field Hall of Famers Mary Slaney, Steve Scott, Chandra
Cheeseborough, Alberto Salazar, Madeline Manning Mims, Edwin Moses,
Renaldo Nehemiah, Mac Wilkins, Larry Myricks coach Stan Huntsman and
many others, was honored earlier in the day in the Eugene 08 Fan Fest
and received a standing ovation from the fans at Hayward Field.

For
complete coverage of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track &
Field, including results, athletes quotes, TV schedule and start lists,
visit usatf.

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