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Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Women's 200 final boasts impressive field

By Jim Caple

LONDON -- Allyson Felix was talking to a couple of reporters about winning her 200-meter semifinal Tuesday evening when she was interrupted by the loud, repeated squeals of France's Myriam Soumare.

Soumare wasn't hurt or scared or in danger. She was standing at the top of a stairway looking out toward the track's scoreboard and she had just seen that her time in the semifinal had qualified her for Wednesday's final. "Wheeee! Wheeee!!!'' she screamed again and again while jumping up and down and hugging a fellow runner.

Evidently, she was very happy to earn a spot in the final.

And why not? Wednesday's final boasts an illustrious field. In addition to Felix, there is 400-meter gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross, 100-meter gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, 100 silver medalist Carmelita Jeter and Jamaican 100 bronze medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown.

The pressure is on Felix, who did not medal in the 100 but is the race favorite in the 200. She coasted to an easy victory in her semifinal and said she was feeling good.

"I know what she's experiencing because I went through the same thing in the 400," Richards-Ross said.

Richards-Ross was comfortably in second place behind Fraser-Pryce as they came around the turn in their semifinal and could have coasted home and still be guaranteed a spot. Instead, she kicked it up a notch and passed Fraser-Pryce down the stretch to win.

She said she was not sending a message, just trying to secure a good lane for the final and give herself the best chance at a medal. She said her gold medal in the 400 has taken off any pressure for the 200.

"It's all gravy now. No pressure out here," Richards-Ross said. "This is a lot of fun for me and I really do want to grab a medal tomorrow, but either way I'm still an Olympic champion."