Another runner emerging as 'double' threat

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
4:32
PM ET

NEW YORK -- Double talk was in the air all week ahead of the Adidas Grand Prix meet here at Randall's Island on Saturday.

Kenya's David Rudisha, the world-record holder in the 800 meters, mused during a press appearance about running the quarter mile as part of a 4x400-meter relay team should his countrymen qualify for the Olympic final. He did nothing to dispel such talk at the meet Saturday, destroying the field and running the fastest 800 on U.S. soil in 1:41.74.

The 100 world champion, Yohan Blake, did nothing to hurt his chances of doubling at the Jamaican Olympic trials with a 9.90-second victory in the 100.

American sprinters Carmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix have been coy all spring about whether they will double when the Olympic trials convene in Eugene, Ore., late this month. Jeter won gold in the 100 at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea, and silver in the 200 last season, while Felix is a medal threat in the 100, 200 and 400. Their logy performances in the Grand Prix 100, however, in which Jeter finished third (11.05) and Felix placed fourth (11.07), don't bode well for either attempting a 100-200 double.

[+] EnlargeJeter/Felix
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesCarmelita Jeter and Allyson Felix have yet to reveal their 'double' plans ahead of the Olympic trials later this month.

But one other potential "doubliner" in London, Sanya Richards-Ross, made a nearly airtight case for chasing gold in two events.

Richards-Ross has long been a giant in the 400, holding the American record and winning the world championship in 2009. She also impressed at the June 2 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene with a smoking 49.39-second victory there. Yet her Saturday performance in the 200 might be the single most important portent from the New York meet. Richards-Ross exploded out of the blocks and simply overwhelmed her best competition, Bianca Knight, to win in a personal record of 22.05 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.

The race was a statement both to the world track community, which has seen Richards-Ross dominate the 400 for years but disappoint in big meets, and to her coach, Clyde Hart.

When asked if the result indicated she was ready for the double, Richards-Ross left no doubt.

"This is a big-time indicator," she said. "Any time my 200s are really fast, my 400 gets easier. And I asked Coach about attempting the double, and he said, 'Let's see how you are today.' Hopefully I made my point and I'll be able to do both in Eugene."

Richards-Ross' sprint speed has never been better. She opened up the season with a wind-aided 100 time of 10.89 in Austin. In the 200, her previous personal record was 22.17 in 2006, the year she set the American record of 48.7 in the 400.

She's in position to erase memories from last year in Daegu, where she finished out of the medals, and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where Great Britain's Christine Ohuruogu edged her for gold in the 400.

"I'm really happy that my races have come together again," she said. "I lost a bit of confidence last year, and I feel it coming back, so I'm very excited for the season."

No wonder. She ran what she called the best curve in her life Saturday, which, coming in the wake of the Pre result, is erasing any doubts that may have haunted her from last season.

"I went out in Eugene and really executed, ran 49.3, my fastest time in three years, so that gave me the extra confidence I needed today to go out there and let go and let my body run freely," she said.

Now, the goal is to survive the grueling rounds in Eugene.

"I've got to make the team, for sure, in the 400 first and then in the 200," she said. "That would be icing on the cake. I just want to make the team safely, and then put on a great show in London."

A show that's looking more and more like a double feature.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

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