Sanya Richards-Ross already knows she'll head home to the United States with at least one gold medal - the one she won in the 400 meters.
Sanya Richards-Ross already knows she’ll head home to the United States with at least one gold medal – the one she won in the 400 meters.
And Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s luggage will be a little heavier on her way back to Jamaica, thanks to her Olympic title in the 100.
Nothing wrong with wanting to add something extra from the 200 meters on Wednesday night, too, even if Richards-Ross insists she isn’t stressing out about finishing first in another track final at the London Games.
“This is gravy. Definitely gravy. I don’t feel any pressure when I come out here. This is just a lot of fun for me,” Richards-Ross said after running hard to the end and outleaning Fraser-Pryce to win their 200 semifinal heat in 22.30 seconds on Tuesday night, setting up a showdown for the gold.
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“I really, really want to grab a medal,” Richards-Ross added, “but either way, I’m still an Olympic champion.”
Call this race the bonus round.
An impressive field will line up to decide the 200, including two-time defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, two-time runner-up Allyson Felix of the U.S., and 100 silver medalist Carmelita Jeter of the U.S.
Felix is a three-time world champion, a streak that ended when Campbell-Brown won that title last year.
“You know how I run the 200: It’s go from the gun and hopefully hold on,” said Campbell-Brown, who took the bronze behind Fraser-Pryce in Saturday’s 100 final. “So we’ll see what happens.”
She is trying to become the first woman to win the same individual track and field event at three consecutive Olympics.
“I’m not focusing on (history). The objective is to make sure that I navigate my race good tomorrow,” she said. “It’s going to be very competitive. I have to stay focused and make sure I make no mistakes.”
There were plenty of errors and oddities at the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium on Tuesday from the stumble by 2004 110-meter hurdles champion Liu Xiang of China in the morning – a blow after missing the Beijing Games – to the 1,500-meter gold won at night by Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria, who had been kicked out of the event then allowed back in.
There were the five medals in the men’s high jump: a gold for Ivan Ukhov of Russia, a silver for Erik Kynard of the U.S., and bronzes all around because of a rare three-way tie for third among Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar, Derek Drouin of Canada, and Robert Grabarz of Britain.
Then there was the celebration to top all celebrations: Discus champion Robert Harting of Germany ripped his shirt to shreds, then sprinted bare-chested down Lane 9, leaping over the barriers set up for the women’s 100-meter hurdles race that Sally Pearson of Australia was about to win ahead of two Americans, defending champion Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells.
“It was a way of celebrating,” Harting said. “It was a symbol to let every emotion come out of me. Now I’m addicted to it. If you see me coming out the stadium without a shirt, you know it was good.”
Makhloufi’s win may have set off the most talk.
Initially told to leave the Olympics for presumably not trying hard enough in the 800 meters a day earlier, Makhloufi was later invited to return after a doctor determined his left knee injury was real.
Taking advantage of the second chance, he finished first in the 1,500 in 3 minutes, 34.08 seconds, beating Leonel Manzano of the United States by 0.71 seconds. Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco got the bronze.
“Yesterday I was out,” Makhloufi said. “And today I was in.”
Makhloufi will receive his gold medal in a ceremony Wednesday, when the schedule includes 100-meter champion Usain Bolt running in the 200 semifinals; the finals for the men’s 110-meter hurdles, women’s 400-meter hurdles and women’s long jump; and the start of the decathlon, featuring world-record holder Ashton Eaton of the U.S.
Makhloufi got off to a slow start in the 800 before bailing out and standing on the infield to applaud while seven other runners went by.
A few hours after that, he was disqualified. He’s hardly the first runner to pull out or pull up in one race to get ready for another. And, to be fair, he was helped off the track after the 1,500 semifinal, held the day before the 800 heat.
“I have problem here,” Makhloufi said, pointing to his left knee. “It’s a dangerous injury, but I’m all right.”
Manzano wasn’t going to be drawn into a debate over if it was fair to let Makhloufi back into the race.
“If he deserves it, I guess it was up to the people,” said Manzano, the first U.S. man to win a medal in the 1,500 since Jim Ryun in 1968. “I don’t know what his objective was. He probably knew what it was, but I really don’t know.”
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