OSAKA, Japan - Team USA's hurdle corps moved en masse into the next round of competition during Monday morning qualifying at the 2007 IAAF World Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Nagai Stadium in Osaka, Japan.
Reigning world champion Michelle Perry (Santa Clarita, Calif.) took the first step in defending her title with an impressive win in the opening round of qualifying in the women's 100m hurdles. Perry was in command throughout the race before winning in 12.72 seconds.
Joining Perry in the second round is 2007 USA Indoor hurdles champion LoLo Jones (Baton Rouge, La.), who placed third in Heat 2 in 12.86, and 2007 USA Outdoor champion Ginnie Powell (Los Angeles, Calif.), who easily advanced with her runner-up placing in Heat 3 in 12.76. Rounding out the Team USA 100m hurdles quartet is 2004 NCAA champion Nichole Denby, who was third in Heat 4 in 12.91.
2007 Visa Outdoor champion Tiffany Williams (Columbia, S.C.) easily won her opening round heat in the women's 400m hurdles in 54.24 seconds. She'll be joined in the second round by 2007 NCAA champion Nicole Leach (Los Angeles, Calif.), who finished fourth in Heat 1 in 55.95, and 2004 Olympic Trials champion Sheena Johnson (Los Angeles, Calif.), who finished third in Heat 5 in 56.30 seconds.
In women's long jump qualifying, reigning world champion Tianna Madison (Los Angeles, Calif.) qualified for the final with a best leap of 6.59 meters/21 feet 7.50 inches. 2007 USA Outdoor Championships runner-up Brittney Reese (Gulfport, Miss.) placed third in Qualifying Group A to automatically advance to the final with her leap of 6.83 meters/22 feet 5 inches. Those not advancing were three-time USA Outdoor champion Grace Upshaw (6.47m/21-2.75) and 2006 USA Outdoor champion Rose Richmond (6.45m/21-2).
It was a tough day for Team USA women's discus throwers as none of them qualified for the final. American record holder Suzy Powell (Modesto, Calif.) had a best throw of 59.57 meters/195-5, and 2005 USA Outdoor champion Becky Breisch (Chula Vista, Calif.), threw 58.42 meters/191-8. Cecilia Barnes (Fresno, Calif.) had a best toss of 53.02m/173-11.
For complete results, quotes and Team USA reports, visit www.usatf.org
Team USA Quotes - Monday, August 27 morning session
Women's 400m hurdles first round
Tiffany Williams (Columbia, SC): I felt pretty good. I think I relaxed too much. I wanted to go out and run a good technical race. Usually I switch [lead legs] once, but I switched twice. Me and my coach will work it out before the next round.
Sheena Johnson (Los Angeles, CA): "My main goal was just to qualify for the next round. The wind on the backstretch was really strong, and it threw off my steps a little bit. About 150 meters into the race, I could tell we were going slower. Usually I like to run as slow as possible to get to the next round.
Nicole Leach (Los Angeles, CA): It was a very hard race in lane 9, especially in your first world competition. I'm just glad I qualified to the next round. Now, I know what I need to work on. I didn't hit all my steps. I did a lot of reaching. I need to get comfortable, back in the pattern. I hadn't run in a while.
photos Janos Schmidt