Olympic trials: Felix, Merritt make noise on track

EUGENE, Ore. – Allyson Felix might be grabbing all the attention at the U.S. Olympic trials. She isn’t the only one peaking there, however.

Moments before Felix won the 200-meter sprint in a personal-best 21.69 seconds Saturday night, Aries Merritt also notched his lowest mark, winning the 110 hurdles in a world-best 12.93 seconds to earn his spot in London.

Wearing bright yellow socks that blurred with each stride, Felix finished well ahead of Carmelita Jeter in 22.11 and Sanya Richards-Ross in 22.22.

In the 110 hurdles, Jason Richardson, the reigning world champion, was second in 12.98 and Jeffrey Porter finished third in 13.08 to round out the U.S. team.

The seventh day of the Olympic trials at Hayward Field started with Trevor Barron’s American record of 1 hour, 23 minutes in the 20,000-meter race walk.

But still hanging over the event was last weekend’s third-place tie in the women’s 100 meters, and it put all the attention on the 200.

Felix and training partner Jeneba Tarmoh finished in a dead heat that caught U.S. track officials off-guard with no policy in place to resolve it.

USA track and field announced a tiebreaking procedure the next day, but Bobby Kersee, coach of both women, said he wanted to wait until after Saturday’s 200 to decide how to break the tie, either by a runoff, coin flip, or if one athlete concedes.

A decision was expected this morning, the final day of the trials.

Because the top three finishers in each event make the Olympic team, USATF wanted the issue resolved by tonight. But the U.S. Olympic Committee has a Tuesday deadline for naming the team.

Tarmoh finished fifth in the 200, the day’s final competition.

Dancing in the pit after each clearance, Chaunte Lowe earned her fifth national outdoor title by leaping 6 feet, 7 inches in the high jump.

Brigetta Barrett finished second after successfully clearing 6-7, a personal best, and veteran Amy Acuff was third with a jump of 6-4 3/4 for the other two spots on the team for the London Games. It will be Acuff’s fifth Olympics.

Lowe broke the meet record of 6-6 1/2 set by Louise Ritter in 1988.

Hyleas Fountain won her fifth national title in the heptathlon, finishing with 6,419 points. Sharon Day was second with 6,343 points and Chante McMillan finished third with 6,188.

Fountain won the silver medal in Beijing, becoming the only the second American woman to earn an Olympic medal in the event after Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Reigning world champion Christian Taylor won the triple jump with a leap of 57 feet, 10 1/4 inches. Former Florida teammate Will Claye, who finished third at the world championships last year, also earned a spot on the team as the runner-up at 57-7. Third-place finisher Walter Davis did not have the Olympic “A’’ standard to make the team.

Jason Richardson set the tone in the 110-meter hurdles by running his semifinal in 12.98 seconds, just off of the world-best time this year of 12.97 that China’s Liu Xiang ran in May.

Richardson said he’s the 13th person to go under 13 seconds, so he’s getting a tattoo to commemorate moment.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said.

But Merritt, arms akimbo, pushed at the finish for the win over Richardson in the final. His time bested the world-best of 12.97 this year posted by China’s Liu Xiang in May.

The women’s 200 was easily the most anticipated event of the day. With the tiebreaker debacle as a backdrop, Felix never looked back to check the competition. She didn’t need too: Her broad smile at the finish showed that she was well aware of what she’d done.

The day started with Barron breaking the race walk record of 1:23:40.00 set by his coach, Tim Seaman, in 2000. Barron also broke the meet record of 1:25:40.00, set by Seaman in 2004.

Seaman, a two-time Olympian, finished second in 1:27:29.48 and Nick Christie was third in 1:29:47.30.

The 19-year-old Barron was the only athlete in the event to earn a spot on the U.S. team for London in the event because Seaman and Christie don’t have the Olympic “A’’ standard of 1:22:30.

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