Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fraser-Pryce, Felix Advance to 200m Finals

On a night when pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva's remarks about gays shifted attention from track to politics, the U.S.-Jamaican sprint showdown moved to the 200 meters at the world championships on Thursday. Both 100 champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Olympic champion Allyson Felix dominated their semifinal heats. That kept Fraser-Pryce's bid alive for three gold medals — something teammate Usain Bolt achieved at two Olympics and two world championships so far. Felix is looking for the same triple she won at the London Olympics last year, combining the 200 with the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. Felix had the top time of 22.30 seconds, but Fraser-Pryce coasted well ahead of the line and still finished with the fourth best qualifying time for Friday's final. Fraser-Pryce is primarily a 100 sprinter and has two Olympics golds attesting to that, but she said in Moscow that she has never been as ready as this year to add the 200 to her haul. Isinbayeva received her gold medal before an adoring crowd Thursday. Before that she staunchly defended a new anti-gay law in Russia and criticized competitors who painted their fingernails in rainbow colors to support gays and lesbians. The law has drawn sharp criticism and led Western activists to call for a boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi. The law means that anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of propagandizing. "We are just against the publicity in our country and I support our government," Isinbayeva said. The day's political developments began after Emma Green Tregaro of Sweden qualified for the high jump final with distinctly painted fingernails. Green Tregaro posted a picture of her fingers on social media website Instagram, saying "Nails painted in the colors of the rainbow." She followed that with several hashtags, including "#pride" and "#moscow2013." "If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people," Isinbayeva said. On the track, Kenyan steeplechaser Ezekiel Kemboi further established himself as the greatest of his era, winning gold ahead of compatriot Conseslus Kipruto for his third world title in a row. It was the fourth straight 1-2 finish for Kenya at the world championships. American shot putters moved into the final with Ryan Whiting leading the way with a throw of 70 feet, 7 inches. Reese Hoffa and Cory Martin also advanced, along with Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland and defending champion David Storl of Germany. It puts the United States in prime position to add more to their leading medal tally of 10 overall, including four gold. Russia is second with seven overall and three gold, and Olympic and defending champion Anna Chicherova was among the top qualifiers for Friday's high jump final. In the 800, Mariya Savinova, another Olympic and world champion, cruised into Friday's semifinals behind the leading time of Brenda Martinez of the United States, who finished in 1:19.39. Thurdsay's other finals are in the men's high jump and 400 hurdles, and the women's triple jump, 400 hurdles and 1,500.