DEAGU, South Korea – LaShawn Merritt became just the fourth athlete to earn three career medals in the men’s 400-meter dash after earning a silver medal in the finals at the 13th IAAF World Championships Tuesday night.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Angelo Taylor and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Bershawn Jackson advanced into the finals of the men’s 400m hurdles.
Two-time World Outdoor silver medalist LaShinda Demus moved a step closer in her quest for a gold medal in the women’s 400m hurdles by posting the fastest qualifying time in the semifinal round.
Meanwhile, Morgan Uceny and Jenny Simpson advanced to the finals of the women’s 1500m, marking just the fourth time Team USA has advanced two runners into the finals (1987,1999, 2009).
Team USA now boasts nine medals: four gold, four silver and one bronze to lead the medal table, with Kenya and Russia tied for second with eight medals. The U.S. also holds an advantage in the point standings with 103 total points; 20 points ahead of runner-up Russia.
Men’s 400m Final
In a thrilling finish to the day, 18-year-old Kirani James of Grenada and the defending World Champion Merritt (Suffolk, Va.) battled down the final straight away, with James pulling ahead just before the line to take the title. James won in a personal best time of 44.60, with Merritt close behind in 44.63. Merritt now owns two world silver medals and one gold, joining Americans Butch Reynolds (bronze-1987; silver-1993, 1995) and Jeremy Wariner (gold-2005, 2007; silver-2002) as the second highest multiple winners in the event. American Michael Johnson tops the list earning four gold medals in the 400m at the 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999 World Championships.
Women’s Pole Vault Final
Olympic silver medalist Jenn Suhr (Churchville, N.Y.) fell just shy of the podium, finishing fourth, ahead of defending Olympic and World champion Elana Isinbaeva of Russia, who was sixth in 4.65m/15-3. Suhr did improve on a 10th-place finish at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Japan. Suhr cleared 4.70m/15-5 on her second attempt, but was not able to clear the next advance of the bar. Suhr
Men’s 800m Final
Three-time U.S. Outdoor champion Nick Symmonds (Eugene, Ore.) was in a good position with 250m to go before the traffic of the pack proved difficult to navigate. Marcin Lewandowski of Poland began to close on Symmonds, and the U.S. champion looked like he was set to surge around the outside of the pack in his typical fashion. Unfortunately, for Symmonds, the Polish athlete moved on the outside and Symmonds found himself boxed in and unable to advance to the podium. Symmonds finished fifth in 1:45.12.
In a surprising finish to the women’s heptathlon, Olympic silver medalist Hyleas Fountain (Kettering, Ohio) did not finish the 800m. Fountain dropped out of the final event around the 200m mark and did not score any points in the final discipline of the heptathlon. Hyleas entered the 800m in fourth place, but fell to 25th place with 5611 points. Sharon Day (Costa Mesa, Calif.), a 2008 Olympian, had a better day as she ran a season best time of 2:15 to end the competition in 18th place with 6043 points.
Women’s Steeplechase Final
Emma Coburn (Crested Butte, Colo.) entered the final of the 3,000m steeplechase seeded 15th overall before finishing in 13th place in 9:51.40 in her first ever international championship. With Jenny Simpson’s performance in 2009, this marks the second consecutive World Championships where a current University of Colorado athlete advanced to the steeplechase final.
Men’s Discus Final
Jason Young (Lubbock, Texas) threw farther than his performance in Monday’s qualifying round; however, it was not enough to advance to the final. Young’s best throw of 63.20m/207-4 gave him a tenth-place finish in his first World Championships.
Women’s 1500m Semifinals
Uceny (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and Simpson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) advanced to the finals of the women’s 1500m. Uceny ran with Shannon Rowbury (San Francisco, Calif.) in the first heat, where the tightly bunched pack forced both women to run the majority of the race from the second lane. With 400m to go, Uceny began to move up through the pack, but Rowbury was unable to follow suit. Uceny finished fifth in 4:09.03 to automatically advance to the final, while Rowbury faded to a 12th place finish in 4:11.49 and did not advance.
Simpson ran in the second heat and was able to run wide on the final straight away to move into second place to automatic qualify to the final in a time of 4:07.90.
Men’s 400m Hurdles Semifinals
Jackson (Raleigh, N.C.) and Taylor (Decatur, Ga.) advanced to Thursday night’s finals. Jackson easily won the third heat in 48.80 to qualify automatically. Taylor faced a faster field in the first heat and placed third, but was able to qualify based on his time of 48.86.
Jeshua Anderson (Woodland Hills, Calif.) finished one spot behind Taylor, but was unable advance with his time of 49.33.
Defending world champion Kerron Clement (Los Angeles, Calif.) was not in his usual form because of a groin injury, and his quest to defend his title ended as he did not advance to finals. Clement finished eighth place in his heat in 55.44.
Women’s 400m Hurdles Semifinals
Demus (Palmdale, Calif.) was unchallenged in the 400m hurdle semifinals as she finished nearly a second ahead of her nearest competitor. Demus automatically qualified by winning the third heat in 53.82.
Neither Jasmine Chaney (Mesa, Ariz.) nor Queen Harrison (Blacksburg, Va.) were able to advance to the final. Chaney ran 55.89 to finish seven in the first heat, and Harrison ran 55.44 to finish fourth in the third heat.