Saturday, January 28, 2012
Lolo Jones wins U.S. Open hurdles
NEW YORK -- Every time Lolo Jones cried because she could barely walk, every time she dragged herself to two or three workouts a day.
"It was all worth it," the American hurdler said Saturday night after winning in her first race since spine surgery.
Jones beat a deep field in the 50-meter hurdles in the U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden. She finished in 6.78 seconds to hold off Britain's Tiffany Porter.
"I was such a mental mess the night before," she said. "Just thinking, 'Am I healed from surgery? Am I fit? Am I in shape?' Just to have this one under my belt and with such a tough field -- it's just a sigh of relief that all that hard work paid off."
The heavy favorite in the 100 hurdles at the 2008 Olympics, Jones clipped the ninth hurdle, shattering her gold medal hopes in an instant. Before she could even dream about redemption at this summer's London Games, she had to get back on the track. The 29-year-old Jones had surgery in August to fix a tethered spinal cord.
In the first few months afterward, when various parts of her body would hurt, Jones would "freak out" and fret to her doctor: "The surgery didn't work. My career is ruined."
"Typical athlete," she said. "But he's just like, 'Calm down. Your body's adjusting.' And sure enough, after a week, things would go back to normal."
The Jamaicans swept the 50 dashes in a customary show of strength. Former 100 world-record holder Asafa Powell edged countryman Nesta Carter in the men's race, winning in 5.64 seconds.
This is the first time since 2004 that Powell has raced indoors, as he tries a different approach after years of disappointments at major championships. Always a fast starter, Powell was right at home at the especially short distance, 10 meters less than the normal indoor 60.
"As soon as I got out of the starting block, the race was over," he said.
Veronica Campbell-Brown easily won the women's 50 in 6.08 seconds. She is seeking to become the first woman to win three straight Olympic gold medals in the 200.
"It's a step in the right direction," Campbell-Brown said of Saturday's victory. "Each race is preparation for what is to come this summer."
Earlier, 22-year-old Silas Kiplagat showed he had learned well from 37-year-old Bernard Lagat. The Kenyan won the mile, beating the man who had dominated at that distance in the Garden.
Kiplagat, the silver medalist in the 1,500 last summer in the world championships, overtook the American with just under a lap to go and won in 4:00.65. Lagat was 0.27 seconds back.
Lagat won the Wanamaker Mile in the Millrose Games at the Garden a record eight times before finishing second last year. The 2007 world champion in the 1,500, the Kenyan-born Lagat now focuses on the 5,000.
"I feel like I was strong the entire way. The thing I take from this is I'm really ready now" to train to run a fast 5,000, Lagat said.
Kiplagat and other young Kenyan runners were in elementary school when Lagat won his first Olympic medal in 2000 and still look up to him. So Kiplagat was grateful for tactical advice Lagat gave him before the world meet in South Korea.
The Millrose Games moved uptown to the Armory after nearly a century at the Garden, with the USA Track & Field-sponsored Open taking over the space.
Reigning world champion Jesse Williams of the United States won the high jump in 7 feet, 6 inches. American Terrence Trammell, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, won the men's 50 hurdles. Ryan Whiting of the U.S. was first in the shot put with a throw of 69-5 1/4.