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U.S. rebounds in track to rack up several Olympic gold medals

The Jamaicans were off to a hot start as Usain Bolt staked his claim to being the greatest sprinter ever, but team USA closed the show with several gold medals.

U.S. 110-meter hurdlers Aries Merritt took the gold medal with a time of 12.92 seconds. AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net

By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)

The Jamaicans dominated early in track and field events, but the U.S. proved that they have star power across the board as they medaled in several events. 

The U.S. track team racked up 29 total medals (nine gold, 13 silver, seven bronze), with Russia coming in second with 18 medals, and the Jamaicans had 12, four of them gold.  Jamaican track star Usain Bolt contributed to three of those gold medals. 

At this point it is hard not to say that Bolt is the greatest sprinter of all time.  In the six races that he has performed in over the past two Olympics (100, 200, 4x100 relay), he has blown away the competition in all of them, and in those three events, he holds the world record in all of them.  He is the only man to win the gold medal in the 100 and 200-meter dashes in consecutive Olympics. 

Some athletes are able to dominate sub par competition, but that is not the case with Bolt.  He is outrunning, by a large margin, the fastest field of sprinters of all time.  It is simply amazing.  That would be like Muhammad Ali dominating a heavyweight division that included Joe Louis, Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, and Mike Tyson, all in their prime. 

Bolt’s career is not over yet, and if he dominates again at the 2016 Olympics, there will be no question that he is the greatest ever. 

For the U.S., it was a good thing that Allyson Felix showed up, as she racked up three gold medals, blowing away the field in the 200-meter dash, and she was a member on both of the U.S. women’s relay teams.  

In the men’s 110-meter hurdles, Aries Merritt made a major change to his start, which is considered unconventional.  A few months ago he switched his lead leg coming out of the blocks, shortening his strides to the first hurdle from the normal eight steps to seven. 

Most hurdlers use eight steps to get to the first hurdle, and Merritt had been doing that his entire career.  To make that major change just months before the Olympics, and master it as quickly as he did is just amazing. 

The change was just what Merritt needed, as he won the gold medal with a time of 12.92, ahead of fellow American Jason Richardson. 

In the 400-meter hurdles, gold medalist Felix Sanchez was born in the New York, attended high school in San Diego and ran track at USC.  This is his second Olympic gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles that he has won for the Dominican Republic, where his parents are from, as he finished with a time of 47.63, just ahead of American Michael Tinsley. 

In the women’s hurdles, it was close but no cigar for two Americans.  Dawn Harper won the gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and she was ready to defend her title this year.  But a photo finish showed that she was just edged out at the finish line by Australia’s Sally Pearson, who crossed the finish line with a time of 12.35.  Harper ran a 12.37, and fellow American Kellie Wells took the bronze medal.  American Lolo Jones, who received the bulk of the media attention before the race, finished in fourth place.

In the women’s 400-meter hurdles, American Lashinda Demus has been chasing the Olympic gold medal for years, and this year looked like her best chance.  But coming down the stretch, Russia’s Natalya Antyukh was slightly in front of her, and Demus could not make up the difference.  Antyukh won the gold with a time of 52.70, with Demus coming in at 52.77.

In the women’s 400-meter dash, the U.S. took the gold and the bronze, as Sanya Richards-Ross won the race with a time of 49.55, and Dee Dee Trotter took home the bronze with a time of 49.72.  American Francena McCorory also made it to the finals, so it was no surprised that the U.S. women’s team ran away with the 4x400 relay race, winning the gold medal with a time of 3:16.87, nearly four seconds in front of the silver medal winning team from Russia. 

In the men’s 400-meter dash, it was a bit of a surprise that no American sprinter made it to the finals.  That is a race that the U.S. has dominated for years.  With no sprinters making the finals, it was no surprise that the U.S. team failed to win the gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay.  They were able to take a silver medal in that event, finishing just behind the Bahamas, who won the gold medal with a time of 2:56.72. 

The U.S. women ran away with the 4x100-meter relay, with a world record time of 40.82.  The men’s U.S. 4x100-meter relay team gave the Jamaicans a good race through the first three legs, but Bolt pulled away at the end, giving the Jamaicans the gold medal with a world record time of 36.84.  The U.S. team equaled the old world record time as they took the silver medal with a time of 37.04. 

In the field events, American Will Claye took the bronze in the men’s long jump with a jump of 8.12 meters. 

Erik Kynard won the silver medal in the men’s high jump with a mark of 2.33 meters. 

Brittney Reese took the gold medal in the long jump with a mark of 7.12, while Janay DeLoach took the bronze medal with a mark of 6.89.

The U.S. took the top two places in the triple jump, as Christian Taylor took the gold with a mark of 17.81, and Will Claye took the silver with a mark of 17.62. 

Brigetta Barrett won the silver medal in the women’s high jump with a mark of 2.03 meters.

Reese Hoffa took the bronze in the men’s shot put with a throw of 21.23 meters.

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