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Harrison romps, Kendricks soars at US trials

Keni Harrison clears a hurdle in the opening round of the Women’s 100 Meter Hurdles during Day 2 of the 2017 USA Track & Field Championships at Hornet Satdium on June 23, 2017 in Sacramento, California © Getty/AFP/File / ANDY LYONS

SACRAMENTO, United States, Jun 24Hurdles star Keni Harrison romped to victory at the US World Championships trials on Saturday as pole vaulter Sam Kendricks soared through the six-meter barrier with a season-best jump.

Harrison, the 100m hurdles world record-holder, blasted to a flawless win in 12.60 seconds in sweltering conditions at Sacramento’s Hornet Stadium.

Olympic silver medallist Nia Ali was second in 12.68 with Christina Manning third in 12.70.

Afterwards, Harrison — who failed to qualify for last year’s Olympics after a shock sixth-place finish at the US trials — said she believed American women could repeat their 2016 Olympic sweep of the medals at the World Championships in August.

“The Americans are really talented in this event and it’s one of our strongest events so I think we can,” she said when asked about the prospect of another 1-2-3.

The strength in depth was reflected in the fact that Jasmine Stowers, who set a season-best 12.47 in morning semi-finals, placed last in the final.

In the men’s pole vault, 2016 Olympics bronze medallist Kendricks posted the highest outdoor jump of 2017 after clearing 6.0m.

It was the first time the 24-year-old US Army reservist had cleared six meters, a psychological benchmark that he said will give him the confidence to challenge for gold in London.

“Six meters is a career point,” Kendricks said. “Every great jumper in history has at least one six-meter jump under their belt. And I wanted to be part of that club.

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“Going for that gold in London is what I’m vying for. I have a personal best now that contends with any record or any championship.”

– Kerley cruises –

Elsewhere Saturday, in the men’s 400m, Fred Kerley underscored his status as the form one-lap specialist of 2017 with the second-fastest time of the year.

Kerley produced a smooth burst of acceleration down the home straight to win in 44.03, with Gil Roberts second and Wil London third.

The 22-year-old Texas runner now owns the five fastest 400m times of 2017, including a season-best 43.70 earlier this month.

In the women’s 400m, Quanera Hayes clocked a world-leading 49.72 as she romped to victory.

The 25-year-old’s winning time beat Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s season-best of 49.77 set in the Shanghai Diamond League meeting in May.

Phyllis Francis was second in 49.96 with Kendall Ellis third in 50.00.

In heats for the men’s 200m, Christian Coleman bounced back from his surprise defeat against Justin Gatlin to ease through to the semi-finals.

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The 21-year-old rising star of American sprinting, stunned by veteran Gatlin in the 100m final on Friday, coasted into the next round of the 200m in 20.34.

The 200m also saw LaShawn Merritt confirm his fitness with a time of 20.74.

Merritt, who is already qualified for London by virtue of winning the 400m Diamond League crown last season, said he will skip the remaining rounds of the 200m.

“I just needed to run something, show fitness,” the 2008 Olympic 400m champion said.

– Centrowitz upset –

Elsewhere, 2012 Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix eased through her 200m heat.

Felix, a six-time Olympic gold medalist, won her heat in 22.95. The 31-year-old, who has a bye into the World Championships following her 2015 400m gold, plans to only run the one-lap event in London.

In the men’s 110m hurdles, 2012 Olympic champion Aries Merritt sailed into the semi-finals, winning his heat in 13.41.

Merritt, 31, told AFP he is now fully recovered from the after-effects of his 2015 kidney transplant and a groin injury last season that scuppered his bid to make the Olympic team.

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“It has been a few years since I felt as good as this,” Merritt said.

In the men’s 1,500m final, 2016 Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz was upset after being pipped for victory by the fast-finishing Robby Andrews. Andrews won in 3:43.29 with Centrowitz second in 3:43.41.


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