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Bolt Breaks Michael Johnson’s 200M World Record

Bolt breaks MJs WR; Team USA adds two silver, one bronze

BEIJING
– Jamaican phenom Usain Bolt stole the show once again, and Team USA
brought its medal tally to 14 thanks to the men’s 200m and women’s 400
hurdles, Wednesday night at the “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium.

Bolt continues to amaze; medal confusion

In
the men’s 200m there had been much buzz about whether Bolt could break
the unbreakable record – Michael Johnson’s 19.32 world mark set at the
1996 Athens Olympics. Given that he had crushed his own 100m world
record on Saturday with a time of 9.69 seconds while celebrating for
the last 20-30 meters, all eyes were on him. On Wednesday, Bolt left no
doubt. Running all-out the entire race, Bolt pushed through, leaning at
the finish and stopping the clock at 19.30. He shaved .02 off of
Johnson’s mark.

More than a half-second behind him
was a race for the rest of the medals. Defending Olympic champion Shawn
Crawford (Los Angeles) had gone out hard and came into the final
stretch poised for silver or bronze in lane 3, with Walter Dix (Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla.) also running well in lane 8. The slow-starting
Wallace Spearmon (Fayetteville, Ark.) came off the curve slowly in lane
9. In the straight, Spearmon turned it on, coming up to nip his two
teammates for third in 19.95, behind Churandy Martina of the Dutch
Antilles, who was second in 19.82. Crawford crossed the line fourth in
19.96, and Dix fifth in 19.98.

Confusion then
ensued. After celebrating his bronze, Spearmon was informed that he had
been disqualified for a lane violation, running on the inside line.
After filing a protest, Team USA officials viewed film of the race and
accepted the disqualification when they realized Spearmon had indeed
committed a violation. That moved Crawford up for bronze, and Dix to
fourth. Team officials also believed that the film showed second-place
Martina committing a similar violation, and they protested Martina’s
finish on those grounds.

After again reviewing the
tape, meet officials disqualified Martina as well. That left a final
finishing order of Bolt (19.30), Crawford (19.96) and Dix (19.98). It
was Dix’s second bronze of the meet, adding to his 100m bronze.

Tosta takes silver

After
winning the 2004 Olympic Trials in a meet-record time, Sheena Johnson
Tosta (Chula Vista, Calif.) finished a disappointing fourth at the
Athens Olympic Games in the 400m hurdles. The 2008 Games had an
inausipicious beginning, with Tosta running a poor first round and
barely qualifying for the semifinals. All that history didn’t matter
Wednesday night. After leading the race early, she came off the turn
just a whisker behind Melaine Walker of Jamaica. Walker powered ahead
to win in an Olympic record time of 52.64, the #4 time in history, with
Tosta second in 53.70 to win the first U.S. medal in the hurdles since
1996. Natasha Danvers of Great Britain was third in 53.84. Struggling
with her steps and form, Olympic Trials champion Tiffany Ross-Williams
was eighth in 57.55.

With three full days of
women’s competition remaining, the Team USA women already have
surpassed their medal total from Athens, with seven medals compared to
six total in 2004. U.S. women won seven medals at the Atlanta Olympics
in 1996, making 2008 potentially the most successful Olympics for the
women’s team since 1992 (10 medals) or 1984 (16 medals). All seven
medals won thus far by American women in individual events have come
from first-time medalists on the Olympic and/or World Outdoor stage.

Making their finals

Three
Americans will line up for the final of the women’s 200 on Thursday
after strong semifinal runs. Two-time world champion Allyson Felix (Los
Angeles) won heat 2 in 22.33, with Marshevet Hooker (Pfugerville,
Texas) second in 22.50. Muna Lee (College Station, Texas) was third in
heat 1 in 22.29 to join her teammates.

The two
Davids – Oliver (Kissimmee, Fla.) and Payne (Hampton, Va.) – both had
an easy time in the semifinals of the men’s 110m hurdles. In the first
heat, World Outdoor bronze medalist Payne was second behind world
record holder Dayron Robles in 13.21. Oliver won heat 2 in 13.31.

Bernard
Lagat (Tucson, Ariz.) and Matt Tegenkamp (Madison, Wis.) each won their
heats in the semifinals of the men’s 5,000m. The fourth-place finisher
at the 2007 World Championships, Tegenkamp won heat 1 in 13:37.36. The
defending world champion, Lagat won the third heat in 13:39.70, and Ian
Dobson (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) was ninth in the second heat in 14:05.47
and didn’t qualify.

Nick Symmonds (Springfield,
Ore.) will compete in the semifinals of the men’s 800 on Thursday.
Uncharacteristically running near the front throughout his race,
Symmonds won the fourth heat in Wednesday’s first round in 1:46.01.
Christian Smith (Eugene, Ore.) was fourth in heat 5 in 1:48.20, and
Andrew Wheating (Eugene, Ore.) was fourth in heat 6 in 1:47.05; neither
advanced.

For more information on Team USA at the
Olympic Games, including athlete quotes, event schedule, TV schedule
and complete results, visit www.usatf.org

***

Team USA medal table, 2008 Olympic Games


Gold (3)

Stephanie Brown Trafton (Galt, Calif.), women’s discus, 64.74m/212-5

Angelo Taylor (Decatur, Ga.), men’s 400m hurdles, 47.25

Dawn Harper (Los Angeles), women’s 100m hurdles, 12.54


Silver (5)

Christian Cantwell (Columbia, Mo.), men’s shot put, 21.09m/69-2.5

Jenn Stuczynski (Churchville, N.Y.), women’s pole vault, 4.80m/15-9

Kerron Clement (Los Angeles), men’s 400m hurdles, 47.98

Sheena Johnson Tosta (Chula Vista, Calif.), women’s 400m hurdles 53.70.

Shawn Crawford (Los Angeles), men’s 200m, 19.96


Bronze (6)

Shalane Flanagan (Pittsboro, N.C.), women’s 10,000m, 30:22.22AR

Hyleas Fountain (Kettering, Ohio), women’s heptathlon, 6619 points

Walter Dix (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), men’s 100m, 9.91

Bershawn Jackson (Raleigh, N.C.), men’s 400m hurdles, 48.06

Sanya Richards (Austin, Texas), women’s 400m, 49.93

Walter Dix (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), men’s 200m, 19.98

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