Published August 22, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. – Allyson Felix might be grabbing all the attention at the U.S. Olympic trials. She isn't the only one peaking there, however.
Moments before Felix won the 200-meter sprint in a personal-best 21.69 seconds Saturday night, Aries Merritt also notched his lowest mark, winning the 110 hurdles in a world-best 12.93 seconds to earn his spot in London.
Wearing bright yellow socks that blurred with each stride, Felix finished well ahead of Carmelita Jeter in 22.11 and Sanya Richards-Ross in 22.22.
In the 110 hurdles, Jason Richardson, the reigning world champion, was second in 12.98 and Jeffrey Porter finished third in 13.08 to round out the U.S. team.
The seventh day of the Olympic trials at Hayward Field started with Trevor Barron's American record of 1 hour, 23 minutes in the 20,000-meter race walk.
But still hanging over the event was last weekend's third-place tie in the women's 100 meters, and it put all the attention on the 200.
Felix and training partner Jeneba Tarmoh finished the 100 in a dead heat that caught U.S. track officials off-guard with no policy in place to resolve it.
USA track and field announced a tiebreaking procedure the next day, but Bobby Kersee, coach of both women, said he wanted to wait until after Saturday's 200 to decide how to break the tie, either by a runoff, coin flip, or if one athlete concedes.
A decision was expected Sunday morning, the final day of the trials.
Because the top three finishers in each event make the Olympic team, USATF wanted the issue resolved by Sunday night. But the U.S. Olympic Committee has a Tuesday deadline for naming the team.
Tarmoh finished fifth in the 200, the day's final competition, and didn't earn a spot.
"I guess it was all about fighting to make the team," Felix said. "It's emotional to try and make the team after putting in all the hours and work on the track. I wanted to leave it all out on the track today."
Dancing in the pit after each clearance, Chaunte Lowe earned her fifth national outdoor title in the high jump. She won at 6 feet, 7 inches.
Brigetta Barrett finished second after successfully clearing 6-7, a personal best, and veteran Amy Acuff was third at 6-4 3/4 for the other two spots on the team for the London Games. It will be Acuff's fifth Olympics.
Acuff said she was burned out after Beijing in 2008. But after he daughter was born two years ago, the 37-year-old decided to try to make one more team.
"Deep down I felt like I had unfinished business. That's ultimately what motivates me to come back," she said. "I was fourth place in Athens. You always want another shot at it."
Lowe broke the meet record of 6-6 1/2 set by Louise Ritter in 1988.
Hyleas Fountain won her fifth national title in the heptathlon, finishing with 6,419 points. Sharon Day was second with 6,343 points and Chante McMillan finished third with 6,188.
Fountain won the silver medal in Beijing, becoming the only the second American woman to earn an Olympic medal in the event after Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
"I didn't really have any pressure out here. I knew that if I didn't do anything too crazy, I could go out there and make the team," Fountain said.
Reigning world champion Christian Taylor won the triple jump with a leap of 57-10 1/4. Former Florida teammate Will Claye, who finished third at the world championships last year, also earned a spot on the team as the runner-up at 57-7. Third-place finisher Walter Davis did not have the Olympic "A'' standard to make the team.
Jason Richardson set the tone in the 110-meter hurdles by running his semifinal in 12.98 seconds, just off of the world-best time this year of 12.97 that China's Liu Xiang ran in May.
Richardson said he's the 13th person to go under 13 seconds, so he's getting a tattoo to commemorate moment.
"It's an amazing feeling," he said.
But Merritt, arms akimbo, pushed at the finish for the win over Richardson in the final. Richardson finished in 12:98.
Merritt's previous best in the event was 13.03, which he ran this spring.
"I had a great start and I'm a build hurdler — I get faster as I go," Merritt said. "I fulfilled my dream today."
The women's 200 was easily the most anticipated event of the day. With the tiebreaker debacle as a backdrop, Felix never looked back to check the competition. She didn't need too: Her broad smile at the finish showed that she was well aware of what she'd done.
Felix's personal best before Saturday was 21.81.
"I was thrilled with my race," the six-time U.S. champion said. "I feel like everything came together."
Jeter won the disputed 100 meters last Saturday, and Richards-Ross claimed victory earlier in the week with a meet-record in the 400.
The day, which was drizzly and chilly, started with 19-year-old Barron breaking the race walk record of 1:23:40.00 set by his coach, Tim Seaman, in 2000. Barron also broke the meet record of 1:25:40.00, set by Seaman in 2004.
Seaman, a two-time Olympian, finished second in 1:27:29.48 and Nick Christie was third in 1:29:47.30, but neither made the team because they did not have the Olympic standard 1:22:30 this season.