For the second time in four years, Elyria’s Tianna Madison has qualified to the finals of the Olympic Trials.
The 22-year-old Madison nailed down the ninth of 12 qualifying berths with a jump of 21 feet, 2 inches or 6.45 meters at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Madison cleared the same distance twice, both on her first and third of three jumps in Monday night’s preliminary round.
It wasn’t as good as her best jump of a year ago (21-8¼ or 6.60 meters), but it was her best jump of the year. It was also good enough to advance to Thursday’s finals. Her previous best jump of the year was only 20-6¼. Madison jumped only 19-9¾ in her last meet June 8 at the Prefontaine Classic held at Hayward.
“I’m feeling a lot better. I just need to pray, meditate and stay focused on myself and what I need to do,” said Madison, reached by phone after the competition. “I can’t look at results, distances or other people’s PRs (personal records). I need to stay really in tune with myself and my body. I have to continue to trust in the Lord for my ability and I’ll be good to go.”
Madison’s left hamstring tightened after her first-round jump, which made things a little more difficult the next two rounds.
“My hamstring got very tight after that first jump,” Madison said. “It’s been kind of tight the last couple of weeks. I’m on my way to see an athletic trainer right now for some treatment.”
Madison certainly is within striking distance of the Games. Her career-best is 22-7¼, set three years ago at the 2005 Worlds in Finland. The top three finishers earn tickets to Beijing.
“I’m just taking things one day at a time, one step at a time,” said Madison, a 2003 Elyria High graduate.
Dayton resident Hyleas Fountain, 27, who earlier won the pentathlon at the Trials, leads the long jump competition with a mark of 21-10¼. NCAA 2008 Outdoor champ Brittney Reese (21-8¾) of Mississippi and Funmi Jimoh (21-8¼) hold the next two top spots.
In other Trials action:
Going shoulder to shoulder in the 400-meter semifinals, Jeremy Wariner beat LaShawn Merritt by .10 seconds to set up a rematch in the finals.
Wariner, the defending Olympic champion, improved to 12-2 lifetime against the man who figures to be his biggest competition this summer, finishing in 44.66 seconds and setting aside a loss to Merritt in Berlin last month that shook up the sport a bit.
• In the decathlon, Bryan Clay made his second straight Olympics with a personal-record score of 8,832. That marked the best score by an American in 16 years and bested Dan O’Brien’s Olympic trials record.
• In the women’s 400, Sanya Richards advanced easily out of the semifinals, keeping her Olympic hopes alive after missing the world championship squad last summer because of illness.
Richards is taking medicine to treat a disease that causes lesions in her mouth, and has been told by doctors to keep her stress level low to prevent flare-ups.
That was no problem on this night. She sprinted to a huge lead and pretty much jogged the last 50 meters but still finished in 50.75 seconds to make it to the finals.
• Kara Patterson and Kim Kreiner have qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in the women’s javelin.
Patterson won the trials with a throw of 191 feet, 9 inches.
Kreiner, a four-time national champion who had Tommy John surgery last month, qualified at 183-5. She finished fourth but made it because the second- and third-place finishers, Dana Pounds and Rachel Yurkovich, didn’t have an Olympic qualifying throw of 198-6 on their resume.
• Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating and Christian Smith have qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in the men’s 800 meters.
Wheating, from Oregon, and Symmonds, from Willamette University in Eugene, got one of the biggest ovations of the track trials when they crossed the finish line 1-2.
Smith, a member of the Oregon Track Club, beat out four-time national champion Khadevis Robinson for the third spot.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.