|Shamier Little celebrates winning silver in the women's 400-meter hurdles at the 15th IAAF World Championships on Aug. 26, 2015 in Beijing.|
BEIJING - Team USA came away with three medals on three extremely strong performances in one-lap races Wednesday night at the IAAF World Championships.
Two-medal night for hurdlers
Through the first two rounds of the women’s 400m hurdles, Cassandra Tate (Loranger, Louisiana) had looked consistent while Shamier Little (Chicago) made the final as the last time qualifier. Wednesday night, the rounds were in the past.
Running in the inside-most lane, lane 2, Little had a difficult route to a medal but came through in style as she made up ground over each hurdle to finish second in 53.94. Tate was leading through the first four hurdles and stayed with defending champion Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic through the curve, just missing her lifetime best with a 54.02 that clinched the bronze. Team USA also won silver and bronze in 2013 (Dalilah Muhammad and Lashinda Demus) and this is the fourth time in American history two medals have been won by Americans in a single world championship.
Merritt masterful in 400
The 2008 Olympic gold medalist and defending world champion, LaShawn Merritt (Portsmouth, Virginia) entered Wednesday’s final barely in the world top 10, his semifinal time of 44.34 making him the ninth-fastest man in 2015. He came out of the final with a silver medal, a personal best and the 10th World Championships medal of his career.
Inconveniently running out of lane 8, Merritt left nothing to chance, going out hard, immediately making up the stagger on Yousef Masrahi of Saudi Arabia in lane 9. Merritt stayed strong through 200 meters as Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa in lane 6 came off the final curve in first. Merritt and his foe since 2011, Olympic gold medalist Kirani James of Grenada, gave chase. The veteran Merritt held his form and powered through the line in 43.65, behind Van Niekerk’s winning 43.48. Merritt improved on his previous personal best of 43.74 run in winning the 2011 world title, while Van Niekerk became the fourth-fastest man in history. James was third in 43.78 to round out the fastest top three in World Championships history. Merritt now matches Hall of Famer Carl Lewis with his 10 WCs medals.
Morris, Suhr tie for fourth in vault
Sandi Morris (Greenville, South Carolina) was clear on her first attempts at the first four heights in the progression in the women’s pole vault, flying over a peak of 4.70m/15-5 to tie her for fourth with Jenn Suhr (Fredonia, New York) and Sweden’s Angelica Bengtsson. The Olympic gold medalist, Suhr had waited until 4.60m/15-1 to enter the competition, clearing on her first attempt and doing the same at 4.70. Suhr tweaked her groin during tonight’s action but stayed in the competition. Neither American woman was able to clear 4.80/15-9, leaving Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, Brazil’s Fabiana Murer and Greece’s Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou to do battle. Silva finished first at 4.90m/16-0.75, Murer second at 4.85m/15-11, and Kyriakopoulou third at 4.80m.
Coburn fifth in steeple final
Emma Coburn (Crested Butte, Colorado) ran a valiant race in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, coming up just shy of a medal. Lalita Babar of India went out by herself, leading by 15 meters, with Coburn tucked in in the main pack, near the front and on the rail. In due time, Coburn led the pack past Babar with 800m left and assumed the lead, with Tunisian Habiba Ghribi on her shoulder. Ghribi moved to the lead at the bell, with Coburn following. Coburn stumbled coming off the final backstretch hurdle, regained her stride and was third heading into the water pit, setting up a five-woman race in the homestretch. At the tape it was three women across, with Hyvin Jepkemoi of Kenya winning in 9:19.11, Ghribi second in 9:19.24 and Germany’s Gesa Krause third in 9:19.25. Coburn finished fifth in 9:21.78, with Stephanie Garcia (Charlottesville, Virginia) ninth in 9:31.06 and Colleen Quigley (St. Louis, Missouri) 12th in 9:34.29.
Trio advances easily to women’s 200 semis
Candyce McGrone (Indianapolis, Indiana) made up the stagger on all the lanes outside her by the time she came off the curve, dominating the first heat with a 22.45 that was almost a half-second than the runners-up. Jeneba Tarmoh (San Jose, California) didn’t have to work hard in the third heat, establishing a big lead in the first 100m and easing down the final 100m to win in 22.79. Jenna Prandini (Clovis, California) was even with Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast heading into the straightaway in heat two and kept her automatic qualifying spot by finishing second in 22.95.
Gatlin breezes through 200m semifinal
Befitting his status as the fastest half-lapper in the world this year, Justin Gatlin (Pensacola, Florida) powered through the curve to take a hefty lead in the second semifinal and then spent very little extra energy on the way to a 19.87, the second-fastest semifinal time ever at the World Championships.