World 110m hurdles champion Grant Holloway and rising 200m star Gabby Thomas fired warning shots to rivals at next month’s Tokyo Olympics on Saturday after storming to impressive victories at the US athletics trials in Oregon.
Holloway, the reigning world champion, sealed his ticket to Tokyo after coming within a whisker of breaking Aries Merritt’s record of 12.80sec set in 2012.
The 23-year-old from Virginia clocked a world-leading 12.81sec in the semi-finals at Eugene’s Hayward Field, before winning the final in 12.96sec ahead of Devon Allen in 13.10sec and Daniel Roberts in 13.11sec.
There was a similarly emphatic victory for Thomas in the women’s 200m, with the 24-year-old Harvard graduate surging home in 21.61sec, the fastest time in the world this year.
Only the late Florence Griffith-Joyner — whose world record of 21.34sec from the drug-tarnished 1988 Olympic Games remains intact — has ever run faster.
Thomas had already set world-leading times in the opening two rounds of the 200m.
However she saved her best for last, taking the lead coming off the bend and powering home, arms aloft in celebration.
Jenna Prandini took second in 21.89 while youngster Anavia Battle took third in 21.95. Veteran sprint queen Allyson Felix, already assured of a place at the Olympics in the 400m, finished fifth.
- Near-miss for Benjamin –
Another dominant performance saw Rai Benjamin clock the second fastest time in history with his win in the 400m hurdles.
The 23-year-old 2019 world championships silver medallist went out slowly before accelerating off the final bend to demolish his rivals with a world-leading time of 46.83secs.
Only world record-holder Kevin Young, whose mark of 46.78sec has stood since 1992, has ever run faster.
Benjamin, the son of former West Indies Test cricketer Winston Benjamin, was racing against the clock as he pulled away down the stretch.
Benjamin said just missing out on the world record would serve as motivation heading to the Olympics.
”.05sec isn’t anything in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “I was training my butt off during COVID during 2020.
”It hurts a little bit that it was right there and I couldn’t grab it, but it’s just more fuel for the fire.”
Kenny Selmon finished second to clinch a place at the Olympics in a personal best 48.08sec while David Kendziera grabbed the third qualifying spot with a time of 48.38sec.
- Teen prodigy –
Meanwhile, the men’s 200m semi-finals produced another dazzling performance from 17-year-old prodigy Erriyon Knighton.
The high school track star qualified for Sunday’s final with a blistering time of 19.88sec, relegating reigning 200m world champion Noah Lyles (19.91sec) to second in their semi-final.
The world-leading performances were not restricted to the track.
The women’s field events saw impressive wins for hammer thrower DeAnna Price and pole vaulter Katie Nageotte.
Price became only the second woman in history to break the 80-metre barrier with her victory in the hammer, producing a mammoth 80.31m throw with her fifth attempt of the final.
That season-leading effort saw Price join Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk as the only woman to have thrown further than 80m.
”I threw over 80m. Oh my God. My mind is like mind blowing,” said Price, the 2019 world champion, who was left pinching herself at being mentioned in the same breath as Wlodarczyk, the double Olympic and four-time world champion.
”She is just this amazing athlete,” Price said. “This is pretty crazy. Being in that territory is a true honour.
In the women’s pole vault, Nageotte cleared a world-leading height of 4.95m to finish first ahead of Morgann LeLeux.
Rio Olympics silver medallist Sandi Morris grabbed the third available ticket to Tokyo with a vault of 4.60m, winning on countback from Olivia Gruver and Jenn Suhr, the veteran 2012 Olympic champion.
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