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Olympic Trials Day 3: Redemption for Trayvon Bromell in one of the fastest 100-meter races of all time
In the ultimate subtweet of Nike, mothers Quanera Hayes and Allyson Felix go 1-2 in the 400m final.
An incredible Sunday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials saw four sprint finals in the women’s 400m, men’s 400m, women’s 100m hurdles and men’s 100m, but none was as show-stopping as the evening’s final event, in which Trayvon Bromell led four men under 9.90 for the fastest Olympic Trials race in history and one of the fastest races of all time.
Men’s 100m (+0.8 m/s)
Trayvon Bromell, 9.80
Ronnie Baker, 9.85
Fred Kerley, 9.86
Kenny Bednarek, 9.89
Micah Williams, 9.91
Cravon Gillespie, 10.00
Noah Lyles, 10.05
Justin Gatlin, 10.87
According to LetsRun, this race is only the third in history to feature four men under 9.90 seconds (wind-legal) after the 2004 and 2012 Olympic finals. The race to make the U.S. Olympic team could very well end up being more competitive than the Tokyo Olympic final.
It’s been a long journey for Bromell, now 25, to get back to the top of the podium after taking runner-up honors to Justin Gatlin at the 2016 Trials. That race, in a way, was the beginning of the end for the old Bromell. The 21-year-old trained through injury to get to the Rio Olympics, where he gritted through pain to make the 100m final (placing last) and anchor the men’s 4x100m relay to what he thought was a sure medal position — only for the squad to be disqualified due to an improper baton exchange for the second consecutive year at a major championship. The lasting image of Bromell’s Olympic experience is being carted off the track in a wheelchair.
After undergoing two surgeries and switching coaches to Rana Reider in Florida, Bromell finally returned to his old form last year. Now, armed with the coveted U.S. title and a world-leading mark of 9.77 (+1.5), he will head to his second Olympics as the gold medal favorite.
First-time Olympians Ronnie Baker, injury-prone but a world medalist in the indoor 60m, and Fred #IAMHISTORY Kerley, the 2019 world bronze medalist for 400m who proved it wasn’t a mistake to go for the 100m/200m double, will join Bromell in the individual race in Tokyo.
This race is a perfect example of how much things can change in a year.
Noah Lyles, unstoppable in 2019, was just seventh (but with “disgusting” plans ahead for the 200m), and Justin Gatlin, who ended Usain Bolt’s dreams of a fairytale ending at the 2017 World Championships, finally showed signs of his 39 years when he gripped his hamstring and struggled home in last.
“It’s a very rare opportunity that you are witnessing something that you are going to do for the last time while you are doing it,” the four-time world champion said in an emotional interview after the race.
Gatlin, also the 2004 Olympic gold medalist for 100 meters, served a four-year drug ban from 2006 to 2010.
The taint of doping is all around these Olympic Trials. The United States’ best 100-meter sprinter didn’t even have the chance to compete in Eugene. Christian Coleman, the 2019 world champion, is currently serving an 18-month suspension for missing three drug tests in 2019.
Women’s 400m: Moms Quanera Hayes, Allyson Felix shine on Father’s Day
The women’s 400m final provided a magical moment seemingly custom-made for NBC Olympic coverage.
Allyson Felix, the most decorated U.S. female track athlete of all-time, made her fifth Olympic team after coming back from a fall 2018 pregnancy that nearly killed her, and walking away from a Nike sponsorship after the track and field behemoth reduced her contract by 70 percent — all because she had given birth to a daughter, Cammy.
The woman who beat her — Quanera Hayes, whose own rise to the top of the U.S. track and field ranks from a humble start in the NCAA’s Division II is worthy of an NBC package — also gave birth to son, Demetrius, in October of 2018.
Quanera Hayes, 49.78
Allyson Felix, 50.02
Wadeline Jonathas, 50.03
Kendall Ellis, 50.10
Kaylin Whitney, 50.29
Lynna Irby, 50.35
Taylor Manson, 50.79
Shae Anderson, 50.84
The bad publicity from Felix and other athletes’ testimonials caused Nike to create a new maternity policy with guaranteed pay and bonuses for 18 months around sponsored athletes’ pregnancy. It was too late for Felix, who had already called their bluff and jumped ship to partner with Athleta and create her own running shoe line, the newly announced Saysh.
The toddlers joined their moms on the track for what you might consider the ultimate subtweet of Nike (although Hayes is still sponsored by the Swoosh).
I’m telling y’all, this COVID-delayed Olympic cycle is all about the moms who got an extra year to train…
Also joining Hayes and Felix in Tokyo is first-time Olympian Wadeline Jonathas, who started her career in the NCAA’s Division III at UMass Boston, later transferred to South Carolina and finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships only a few months removed from her first NCAA DI 400m title. Jonathas was among a few who expressed discontent at the lack of coverage afforded to non-name brand athletes at the Trials.
Thanks to the fact there are two separate relay races available for 400-meter runners (4x400m relay, mixed gender 4x400m relay), every woman in the final will be selected for the relay pool — as well as a few who did not make the final or even enter in the open 400m!
In fact, the three of the fastest American women in the 400m have yet to race in Eugene: 800m specialist Athing Mu (49.57 PB/sub-49 relay split), and 400-meter hurdlers Shamier Little (49.91 PB) and Sydney McLaughlin (50.07 PB/sub-50 relay split), all of whom U.S. track fans will hope to see make the final roster for the relay.
Men’s 400m: Get Like Mike
Without reigning U.S. champion Fred Kerley in the race, this was Michael Norman’s title to lose — unless you’re sprint legend Michael Johnson, anyway.
The race went to form, with the young 23-year-old star winning his first U.S. title in 44.07 to make his first Olympic team. He nearly stole the show back in 2016, when he placed fifth in the Olympic Trials 200m final as a high school senior.
These Olympics will be doubly special for Norman, whose mother, Nobue, was born in Japan.
Behind Norman, “fellow Michael” Michael Cherry took second in 44.35 and North Carolina A&T’s Randolph Ross took third in 44.74 to each make their first Olympic team. Ross’ teammate Trevor Stewart took fourth place and will be added to the relay pool.
Michael Norman, 44.07
Michael Cherry, 44.35
Randolph Ross, 44.74
Trevor Stewart, 44.90
Vernon Norwood, 44.92
Elija Godwin, 44.94
Bryce Deadmon, 44.96
Wil London, 45.00
The race puts a bow on a standout season for the N.C. A&T track team, which represented for HBCUs by picking up third and fourth-place finishes, respectively, in the men’s and women’s team standings at the NCAA DI Outdoor Championships, along with four national titles in the men’s 400m and 4x400m relay, courtesy of Ross and Stewart, and the women’s 100m and 200m, courtesy of Cambrea Sturgis.
Women’s 100m hurdles: Redemption for Keni Harrison
When the U.S. women swept the medals in the 100-meter hurdles at the Rio Olympic Games, the fastest American of all was left watching from home. Keni Harrison failed to qualify for the Olympics five years ago, then funneled her frustration into setting a new world record of 12.20, which still stands today.
On Sunday, Harrison finally achieved her long-awaited dream of becoming an Olympian by winning the Trials in 12.47 over Brianna McNeal (12.51), the reigning Olympic champion, and 31-year-old Christina Clemons (12.53), who made her first Olympic team while sporting $8 Cool Ranch Doritos earrings from Hot Topic, which surprisingly made her the main character on Track Twitter for the evening.
There’s a chance that fourth-placer Gabbi Cunningham gets a shot in Tokyo. McNeal is competing under appeal while fighting a five-year ban for tampering with drug tests. A ruling is expected on her case before the Olympics.
Women’s 100-meter hurdles (+0.8 m/s)
Keni Harrison, 12.47
Brianna McNeal, 12.51
Christina Clemons, 12.53
Gabbi Cunningham, 12.53
Anna Cockrell, 12.58
Tonea Marshall, 12.63
Payton Chadwick, 12.66
Alia Armstrong, 12.84
TeJyrica Robinson, 12.99
More from the U.S. Olympic Trials
Former Texas star Ryan Crouser shatters outdoor world record in shot put win at Trials, Austin American-Statesman
Born to run? Olympic hopeful Sarah Lancaster made her mark at Texas in tennis, basketball, Austin American-Statesman
Everything Is Clicking at the Right Time for Josette Norris, Runner’s World
At 19, NCAA Star Athing Mu Says She’s “Made for This,”Women’s Running