Hastings, Francis, Among Locals in Track & Field
Following the performances earlier by several other local athletes, Phyllis Francis, Natasha Hastings, Sydney McLaughlin and many others performed admirably in their individual events on the track.
McLaughlin led off, the 17-year old high school senior from Dunellen, NJ, but struggled in her race. She started off very strong in the second lane, but faded out down the stretch, finishing fifth in her heat, with a time of 56.32. However, she was still able to make the semifinals as a lucky loser, as one of the final qualifiers. Despite her age, her Olympic appearance isn’t a fluke, as she had posted the seventh best time this year in the event. She did say she was struggling with a cold, but she will need to shake it off and improve greatly if she hopes to make the event finals.
Dalilah Muhammed of Jamaica, NY also made the semis with a no-doubter win in her heat. She posted the fourth best time overall, and she is a strong medal favorite, as she is the best in the event so far this year. The semis are scheduled for Tuesday, with the finals set to start on Thursday.
In the other hurdle event of the night, the men’s 110m, Jeff Porter of Somerset, NJ and Ronnie Ash of Passaic, NJ, each qualified for the semifinal with strong runs in their individual heats. Ash finished with the second fastest overall time on a slick, rain-soaked track, with a time of 13.31 seconds despite hitting some hurdles on the way down. Porter finished eighth overall, easily qualifying for the semis with a time of 13.5 seconds.
And in the final track event of the night, Natasha Hastings and Phyllis Francis of New York both finished just slightly off of the podium, behind teammate and silver medalist Alyson Felix, and gold medalist Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas. Hastings bolted out to an early lead, setting the pace for the field, but she faded heavily down the stretch, ceding to the surging Miller and Felix.
She eventually finished fourth, with nothing left in the tank, behind Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson by .49 seconds. Francis was right behind Hastings, only .07 seconds behind her. Both had outside chances at a medal, so the finish was a big disappointment. With the medal, Felix became the most decorated U.S. woman in Olympic Track & Field history. All three of them will compete in the 4X400m relay race later on in the games, an event in which Hastings won gold in 2008.
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