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Team USA medals surge to 29

USA London 2012

USA London 2012

LONDON – A commanding victory in the women’s 4×400 relay and thrilling silvers in the men’s 4×100 and women’s high jump on Saturday night made for an exciting conclusion to track competition at Olympic Stadium. In the process, the 4×100 American record fell and Allyson Felix became the first woman since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988 to win three gold medals in one Olympic Games.

With one road event – the men’s marathon – to be contested on Sunday, Team USA’s medal tally stands at 29 medals: nine gold, 13 silver and seven bronze. The women have accounted for 14 of those medals (6 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze), just two behind the all-time record of 16 won at the boycotted 1984 Games.

Women golden in 4×400
Bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter (Orlando, Fla.) gave Team USA a big lead on the first leg of the women’s 4x400m relay, and that lead only grew as the U.S. ran away from the field to win by nearly four seconds. Trotter passed the baton to Felix with Francena McCorory running third and Sanya Richards-Ross anchoring the team home in dominating fashion, crossing the line in 3:16.88 to equal the fifth-fastest time in history and the third-fastest by a U.S. team. Russia finished second in 3:20.23, and Jamaica was third in 3:20.95.

Richards-Ross joined Felix (200, 4×100 and 4×400 gold) and Carmelita Jeter (100 silver, 200 bronze, 4×100 gold) as a multiple medalist, adding a second gold to her victory in the 400 meters.

American Record in men’s 4×100
In a thrilling and well-executed race coming one day after their semifinal American record,  Team USA battled neck-and-neck with Jamaica in the men’s 4x100m.  The result was a world record for Jamaica and an American record that, a minute earlier, would have tied the WR.

It was essentially a dead heat for most of the race. Running for Team USA, Trell Kimmons (Round Rock, Texas) executed a textbook- perfect handoff with Justin Gatlin (Orlando, Fla.), running even with Jamaica’s Nesta Carter to Michael Frater. Gatlin had the smallest of leads over Frater, with Tyson Gay (Clermont, Fla.) and Yohan Blake dueling over the curve. Although it appeared as though Blake had gained ground on the third leg, anchor men Ryan Bailey (Salem, Ore.) and Usain Bolt took their batons tied.

It was an unenviable position for Bailey, who did not relent against the fastest man in history. Bolt slowly pulled away to give Jamaica the win in a world record 36.84, while Bailey anchored the U.S. to their second American record in as many days. Their time of 37.04 tied the previous world record and was more than a full second ahead of third. Trinidad and Tobago took the bronze in 38.14 after Canada was disqualified for an exchange zone violation.

Barrett claims silver
At 21-years-old and the youngest woman on the team, Brigetta Barrett (Tucson, Ariz.) became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in the high jump since Louise Ritter took gold in 1988 – two years before Barrett was born.

Barrett and American record holder Chaunte Lowe (Loganville, Ga.) both cleared 1.89m/6-2.25 and 1.93m/6-4 on their first attempts and 1.97m/6-5.5 on their second.  As the field was reduced to seven jumpers heading to 2.00m/6-6.75, the two Americans were tied for fourth. Barrett cleared on her second attempt to move to second place and clinch a guaranteed medal, with only Russians Anna Chicherova Svetlana Shkolina remaining. Lowe was unable to clear and finished sixth.

Barrett well cleared 2.03m/6-8 on her second try to post the best mark ever by an American at the Olympics and cast her medal in silver. Chicherova won the competition at 2.05m/6-8.75, with Shkolina third at 2.03, cleared on her third and final attempt.

5,000m medal slips from grasp
With a win in Saturday’s 5,000m, Mo Farah of Great Britain stole the show with the 5,000/10,000m double victory, while a quick-closing Bernard Lagat (Tucson, Ariz.) was tripped up in his attempt to win his third career Olympic medal. Regaining his composure in the last 20 meters, Lagat moved into fourth to finish in 13:42.99.

The race unfolded with a slow opening 3,000m that found Lopez Lomong (Beaverton, Ore.) leading a loping pack. The pace began to pick up when eventual silver medalist Dejen Gebremeskel moved into the lead. Despite the faster pace, the pack remained dense and congested. Twice a medalist at 1,500m (2000, 2004)  Lagat came off the curve in Saturday’s 5,000m final positioned fifth, and while he managed to stayed upright, the clip with Kenyan Isiah Koech tripped Lagat up long enough to keep him out of the medals. Lagat regained his composure in the final meters of the race to move into fourth. Galen Rupp (Portland, Ore.) moved into the lead 600m out, but was unable to answer as Farah and the rest of the pack pulled ahead, leaving him seventh in 13:45.04. Lomong finished 10th in 13:48.19.

Montano fifth in 800
Alysia Montano has run from the front in the 800m all year long, and the same was true for the Olympic final of the women’s 800. At the gun, the Olympic Trials champion moved to the lead and led the pack through a brisk first lap of 56.31. On the backstretch, the pack, with Pamela Jelimo of Kenya in the lead, began to move. With 200m left, Russians Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova surged past Montano and the race for the medals was on. Jelimo faded while South Africa’s Caster Semenya came back from last place. Savinova won easily in 1:56.19, with Semenya second in 1:57.23 and Poistogova third in 1:57.53. Jelimo was fourth in 1:57.59 and Montano fifth in 1:57.93.

On the roads
In the first event of the day, John Nunn (San Diego, Calif.) set a personal best by more than a minute in 4:03:28 to finish 43rd in the men’s 50km race walk. Nunn was on pace through the halfway point to walk under four hours (splitting 25k in 1:58:29), but was unable to sustain the effort. As more than a dozen athletes were eliminated from the competition due to penalties or withdrawing from the race, Nunn did not receive a single mark from the judges and walked a clean race. Sergey Kirdyapkin of Russia won in an Olympic Record of 3:35:59, with Jared Tallent of Australia second in 3:36:53, and Tiangeng Si of China third in 3:37:16.

Maria Michta (Nesconset, N.Y.) set a huge personal best in the 20 km race walk with a time of 1:32:27, the second-fastest time ever by an American woman. Michta finished 29th after working her way steadily through the pack. Michta also notched a 10 km personal best of 46:02 on the first 6.2 miles of the race. Elena Lashmanova of Russia won gold in a world record time of 1:25:02, with her teammate Olga Kaniskina taking second in 1:25:09, and Shenjie Qieyang of China finishing third in 1:25:16.

Team USA Medal Count – 29 total
Gold (9)
Allyson Felix (Santa Clarita, Calif.), W200, 21.88
Sanya Richards-Ross (Austin, Texas), W400, 49.55
Women’s 4x400m relay (D. Trotter, A. Felix, F. McCorory, S. Richards-Ross), 3:16.87
Women’s 4x100m relay (T. Madison, A. Felix, B. Knight, C. Jeter), 40.82WR
Brittney Reese (Gulfport, Miss.), WLJ, 7.12m/23-4.25
Jenn Suhr (Churchville, N.Y.), WPV, 4.75/15-7
Aries Merritt (Bryan, Texas), M110H, 12.92
Christian Taylor (Daytona Beach, Fla.), MTJ, 17.81m/58-5.25
Ashton Eaton (Eugene, Ore.), MDEC, 8,869

Silver (13)
Carmelita Jeter (Gardena, Calif.), W100, 10.78
Dawn Harper (Los Angeles, Calif.), W100H, 12.37
Lashinda Demus (Palmdale, Calif.), W400H, 52.77
Brigetta Barrett (Tempe, Ariz.), WHJ, 2.03m/6-8
Leo Manzano (Austin Texas), M1500, 3:34.79
Galen Rupp (Portland, Ore.), M10,000m, 27:30.90
Jason Richardson (Los Angeles, Calif.), M110H, 13.04
Michael Tinsley (Round Rock, Texas), M400H, 47.91
Men’s 4x100m relay (T. Kimmons, J. Gatlin, T. Gay, R. Bailey), 37.04AR
Men’s 4x400m relay (B. Nellum, J. Mance, T. McQuay, A. Taylor), 2:57.05
Erik Kynard (Manhattan, Kans.) MHJ, 2.33m/7-7.75
Will Claye (Imperial Beach, Calif.), MTJ, 17.62m/57-9.75
Trey Hardee (Austin, Texas), MDEC, 8,671

Bronze (7)
Carmelita Jeter (Gardena, Calif.), W200, 22.14
DeeDee Trotter (Orlando, Fla.), W400, 49.72
Kellie Wells (Orlando, Fla.), W100H, 12.48
Janay DeLoach (Fort Collins, Colo.), WLJ, 6.89/22-7.25
Justin Gatlin (Orlando, Fla.) M100, 9.79
Reese Hoffa (Athens, Ga.), MSP, 21.23m/69-8
Will Claye (San Diego, Calif.), MLJ, 8.12m/26-7.75

Team USA Head Coach Quotes

Amy Deem, Team USA women’s head coach: “It was an awesome performance by the women’s team. They just stepped up and had a great week. I really, truly believed the women would bring in a lot of medals. I think our women have grown up with some heroes and seen what they can accomplish. We have great leadership now with athletes like Allyson and Sanya. This is just the beginning.”