Monday, August 24, 2015

Beijing Buzz - Monday Morning, 8/24 - Day 3

A relatively quiet morning in the Bird’s Nest – at least as compared to the 100m madness of last night. It was a hot and steamy walk over here, but there’s a welcome breeze.

I remain amazed at how fast these events go. No, not the 100m… the six rounds of the men’s hammer last night, for example, seemed to go by in a flash.

After a brief recap of this morning’s qualifying and two major non-qualifying surprises for the US, I’ll close with something unexpected from last evening.

Pole Vaulter Demi Payne was rumored earlier in the season to be practicing at world record heights. But the NCAA champion had difficulty with her steps today and did not advance to Wednesday’s final.

Long jumper and medal favorite Marquis Dendy had a final jump that echoed that of Katarina Johnson-Thompson in yesterday’s heptathlon – oh so close, lengthy discussion, but ultimately a failure to advance on the third opportunity. He has another shot at a medal in the triple jump.

In this morning’s women’s discus qualifying, the results from the two groups were remarkably parallel. That is, each group produced two automatic qualifiers and well as four by next-best distance. Had an interesting experience with Gia Lewis-Smallwood, which I’ve described in more detail in my separate post about today’s discus qualifying.

Christine Day looked uncommonly smooth in winning her 400m round. Not at the top of most lists of medal favorites, keep an eye on her as the rounds progress.

The steeplechase still looks good for a US medal as Emma Coburn advanced comfortably in her heat. The range of times among the three heats was remarkably narrow, as the 15 finalists qualified between 9:24.38 – 9:30.23.

Realized I failed to mention in the midst of last night’s magic that it wasn’t magical for everyone. Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury advanced to one of the championships’ most anticipated finals, tomorrow night’s 1500m. The remarkable run of Lauren Johnson came to an end as she missed the final by one place; she ran well in her semi but acknowledged that she just didn’t have it in the last 100m.

Up tonight are finals in the men’s pole vault, women’s triple jump, women’s 10k, men’s steeple, and women’s 100m. Much anticipation in the US delegation about the prospects of Evan Jager in the steeplechase; will he put a dent in Kenyan dominance of the event with a medal tonight?

Much anticipation, too, among Oregon Ducks everywhere: Jasmine Todd and English Gardner toe the line in tonight’s 100m semis, of which there are three. It’s a brutal qualifying system that has the top 2 finishers in each plus the next two fastest advancing to the final just under two hours later. Both Todd and Gardner face legends in the sport. Todd goes up against Veronica Campbell-Brown and Gardner faces heavy favorite Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

Meanwhile, last night I was interviewed by Radio Beijing. This came about when I asked several questions of the men’s hammer throw medalists in their press conference; only one other journalist did so. I’ll have more on this in a post to follow.

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