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Track: Tianna Madison misses out on Olympics

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EUGENE, Ore. — Tianna Madison’s Olympic dream won’t come true this summer.
The Elyria High School graduate, and former world champion in the long jump, finished fifth Thursday night in the Olympic Trials finals.
The top three earned trips to the Olympics, which begin Aug. 8 in Beijing.
Madison’s best long jump was 21 feet, 71/4 inches. The third and final Olympic qualifier, Funmi Jimoh, jumped
22-03/4. So Madison missed by 51/2 inches.
Brittney Reese, Grace Upshaw and Jimoh were the top three finishers.
Reese won with a personal-best jump of 22-9¾ inches, the best by an American this year.
Upshaw added this Olympic trip to her 2007 national outdoor championship.
Jimoh earned her spot a month after being the best American jumper here at Hayward Field in the Prefontaine Classic.
In other action in Eugene, Jeremy Wariner isn’t invincible anymore — a point LaShawn Merritt proved once again Thursday night.
Merritt pulled his second upset of the year over the world’s supposed fastest
400-meter runner, dashing away from Wariner in the homestretch to win the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Ore.
Wariner still did enough to earn his spot on the Olympic team in his best event. And not everybody at the track was calling this an upset.
“Coming into this, I wasn’t really worried about everyone saying I wasn’t the favorite,” Merritt said. “In my mind, I was the favorite.”
Merritt finished in 44 seconds flat, defeating Wariner by 0.20. Taking third was national indoor champion David Neville.
Moments before, the women’s 400 went much more to form, with Sanya Richards winning, Mary Wineberg second and Dee Dee Trotter third.
Richards is seeking an individual gold medal to go with the 1,600-relay gold she won in Athens.
In the 1,500-meter quarterfinals, Bernard Lagat, Lopez Lomong, Alan Webb and Leo Manzano advanced to today’s semis. Lagat, already qualified in the 5,000, finished fourth in his heat, clearly saving energy.
But the race of the night was the 400.
Merritt took to the track with a red-white-and-blue necklace his massage therapist made for him before the race. Wariner was in his trademark sunglasses, even though it was twilight.
He said he wasn’t disappointed in finishing second, “I just came here to make the team,” he said.
But his body language told a different story. He shuffled his feet in apparent frustration, then looked at the clock, which showed 44.20 — well off his personal best (43.45) and nowhere near Michael Johnson’s world record (43.18) that Wariner has said is within his reach this year.
“The record is one thing I want to do, but I have to focus on winning the gold medal first,” Wariner said in a quick televised interview after the race. He did not show up at the post-race news conference.
He is, indeed, not used to losing, though he has lost two of his last three races with Merritt in the field. Merritt snapped Wariner’s nine-race winning streak earlier this year in Berlin, a result that turned heads simply because nobody has really challenged Wariner since he won the Olympic gold four years ago. Merritt is now
3-12 lifetime in races against Wariner.
But he was hardly in the mood to rub it in. Few will remember who won the Olympic Trials. Many will remember who wins the Olympics next month.
“Once I got off the backstretch, around the curve and down the homestretch, I could smell Beijing,” Merritt said.
Starting in lane 6, a lane outside of Wariner, Merritt jumped to a slim lead about halfway through, though that’s nothing surprising; Wariner does his best work in the final 150 meters.
But Merritt did not let up and as they started down the backstretch, it became clear that Wariner would not make a move to catch Merritt, who finished second to Wariner at world championships last year.
“My whole motto is, ‘If I didn’t think I could win, I shouldn’t train as hard as I do,’” Merritt said. “Point blank, nobody trains hard to be No. 2 in the world. If you’re racing and get second place, you go back and train harder to be No. 1.”
When it was over, Merritt raised both hands in the air. Victories like this don’t come often.
But they aren’t unheard-of anymore, either.
“LaShawn was just the better man today,” Wariner said.

 



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