Day 3 of the US Olympic track & field trials in Eugene consisted completely of finals in a quick afternoon at the track highlighted by some nice stories, including one man’s incredible comeback from an incident that nearly cost him the ability to ever walk again.
In the men’s 400 final, LaShawn Merritt ran a world best time this year of 44.12 seconds to earn his spot on the Olympic team. Florida’s Tony McQuay finished comfortably in second with a time of 44.49 seconds. USC’s Bryshon Nellum used a late surge in the final meters to also earn a spot on the team with a time of 44.80 seconds, edging out Josh Mance by just one hundredth of a second. Noteworthy in this race was Merritt’s winning time, the fastest in the world so far this year.
“This won’t be my first rodeo,” said Merritt. “I will go in confidently, and I am definitely confident in Tony and Nellum that they can handle this. They came out of college and now they’re with the big dogs…It’s a different mentality to run with someone who can run 44.8 in the first round.”
But what was truly incredible in this race is the comeback story of Bryshon Nellum.
Just three years ago, Nellum was shot in the legs after leaving a party at USC. Doctors told Nellum he would never be able to run world class times again. In those three years, Nellum has fought back to become an Olympian.
“It’s been a long journey for me,” said Nellum. “I finally had a healthy season. It’s a blessing to be able to compete out here.”
On the women’s side, Sanya Richards-Ross won the 400 final in 49.28 seconds. Not only was that a world best time for 2012, but also an Olympic trials record, as well as a new Hayward Field record. Finishing in second in 50.02 seconds was Dee Dee Trotter, while Francena McCorory rounded out the top three with a gutsy finish in 50.43 seconds.
“Today was phenomenal,” said Richards-Ross. “There is something so special in competing at Hayward…It’s a dream come true. You really can’t think about it [Olympics] until you get past this. I’m excited to rep Team USA…I feel like I have one of the best coaches in the world.”
In the day’s final event, the men’s 100, Justin Gatlin ran a scorching fast time of 9.80 seconds to win the final. American record holder Tyson Gay finished second in 9.86 seconds, while Ryan Bailey snagged the final spot on the team, finishing third in 9.93 seconds.
This race was a bit of a homecoming for Bailey, who won the Oregon state championship title in the 100 while at Douglas McKay High School in Salem.
“I’m truly blessed to be here and run at Hayward,” said Bailey. “Every time I’m here they have great fans. I’m just really happy. I can’t put it into words.”
USA Track & Field has also decided on a ruling on the tie that occurred between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, which is explained below. More info can be found on www.usatf.org, the official website of USATF.
In case of a tie, the following procedure shall be used for breaking a tie for the final qualifying slot in a running-event final in which a U.S. National Team or Olympic Team is being selected:
- If either athlete declines his or her position on the National Team/Olympic Team, that athlete will be named the alternate and the other athlete will assume the final available position.
- If neither athlete declines their position, they will be given the option to determine the tie-breaker via coin toss or by run-off.
- If both athletes choose the same option, that option will be utilized as the tie-breaker.
- If the athletes disagree on the tie-breaker, the tie will be broken by a run-off.
- If both athletes refuse to declare a preference regarding the method between a run off and coin toss in regards to how the tie is broken, the tie will be broken by coin toss.
Tomorrow’s events will include finals in the women’s triple jump, men’s high jump, and men’s javelin throw, as well as the men’s and women’s 800.