Richards returns in 400
The women's 400 meters was expected to provide world #1 ranked Sanya Richards the chance to return to the top of the U.S. heap after finishing a disappointing fourth in 2007. She delivered. At the gun, Richards bolted around the first turn, scorching the first 100 meters before easing significantly in the second 200. With a half lap to go, Mary Wineberg had pulled even with Richards, running on Richards' inside, giving Wineberg the lead.
Richards turned it on for the final 200 meters and sprinted away to win by nearly 1 full second, running 49.89, with Wineberg second in 50.85. Perhaps the most astounding story of the race was defending national champion Dee Dee Trotter finishing third in 50.88. The 2004 Olympic relay gold medalist is running with a broken bone chip in her left leg, the result of an errant car door closing on her two months ago. Just a few weeks ago, Trotter was running 53 seconds in the 400. On Thursday, she became a two-time Olympian.
Reese wins strong women's LJ
For the first time since 1996, the top three finishers in the women's long jump all have exceeded the Olympic A standard, making it the strongest team in years. 2004 Olympic finalist Grace Upshaw held the lead through most of the competition with her personal-best jump of 6.88m/22-7 (+1.8 mps) as jumpers traded the second-through-fourth positions. On her final jump, two-time NCAA outdoor champ and 2007 World Outdoor finalist Britney Reese let fly with a mark of 6.95m/22-9.75 (+1.4 mps), a personal record, 2008 U.S. leader and #2 mark in the world, to win. Upshaw was second and the surprise long jump find of 2008, Funmi Jimoh, was third with a mark 6.72/22-0.75 (+2.1 mps).
Busy qualifying rounds
In qualifying round action, all expected athletes moved on to Sunday's women's pole vault final as 12 women, including American record holder Jenn Stuczynski and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Stacy Dragila, advanced.
Christin Wurth-Thomas (4:13.40), Shannon Rowbury (4:16.13) and Lindsey Gallo (4:17.01) won their heats of the women's 1,500m and will compete in Friday's semifinal.
Leading qualifiers in the throws were Jessica Cosby in the women's hammer (69.70m/228-08) and Michelle Carter in the women's shot put (18.33m/60-01.75).
In exhibition events, Amber Weber won the women's 800m wheelchair race in 2:18.26.