Tuesday, August 19, 2008
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Americans, Jamaicans advance easily in women's 200

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[August 19, 2008]  BEIJING (AP) -- It was a long wait for Allyson Felix. It felt every bit as long for Muna Lee. Felix, Lee and American teammate Marshevet Hooker easily made it through the first round of 200-meter Olympic qualifying Tuesday morning by winning their heats.

All three Jamaican sprinters -- Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart -- qualified as well, keeping alive the prospect of another America-Jamaica sprint showdown.

The U.S. women hope the 200 will go much better than the 100 did Sunday, when Lee and two other Americans watched Jamaica go 1-2-3. The 200 quarterfinals were set for Tuesday night.

Felix, who didn't qualify for the 100, spent most of the week watching the action -- Usain Bolt's world record, the Jamaican women's dominance -- from the athletes' village.

She didn't want to come to the Bird's Nest until it was her time to run. She preferred to stay focused on her race and stay off her feet.

"Just didn't want to take any chances," she said.

The cautious approach paid off, at least in the first round. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist and reigning world champion cruised into the finish in 23.02 seconds, watching herself coast toward the line on the stadium's big video screen.

"Wanted to see where I was at and not slow down too much," Felix explained.


Lee has already been at the Bird's Nest, part of a disappointing 4-5-8 American finish in the 100. She spent a long 36 hours stewing before she came back out, then won in 22.71 seconds, the morning's fastest time.

"I was pretty mad but had to get over it," Lee said. "It was unfortunate, but hey, you never know what happens nowadays."

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Hooker also finished first (23.07 seconds) in this, her first big meet since the U.S. Olympic trials, where she went sprawling across the finish line to secure the final Olympic spot. She walked away with scrapes on her elbow, hip, hand and leg -- and a trip to Beijing.

"I still have the scars, but I'm happy, I'm thankful," she said Tuesday. "It was a good dive -- 'safe.'"

Simpson and Stewart tied for the silver in Jamaica's historic sweep of the 100 on Sunday. Campbell-Brown, the 2007 world champion in the 100, wasn't in that race -- she didn't finish in the top three in Jamaica's trials. The spot that might have gone to her instead went to Shelly-Ann Fraser, and all Fraser did was win gold.

It foreshadowed how strong the Jamaican sprinters are -- a point that could be reinforced in Thursday's 200 final.

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The only major surprise on a morning full of qualifying came with Naide Gomes of Portugal, the world indoor champion. The dominating long jumper of the season fouled on her first two attempts, then stutter-stepped on her final try and failed to jump far enough to advance to the final.

Scheduled later Tuesday was the women's 400-meter medal race, where American Sanya Richards was among the favorites.

Richards also likes to run in the 200. Two years ago, she petitioned the International Olympic Committee and track officials for a schedule change that might allow a 200-400 double without having to race three times on one day.

That request was denied, so Richards is hoping to win medals in the individual race and the 1,600 relay -- and also has been working out in the 400 relay.

[Associated Press; By EDDIE PELLS]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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