Track & Field World Championships, Day 6: 'Almost'

Lots of near-misses for Austinites in Osaka

Athletes with Austin connections just can't seem to get into a final at the IAAF World Championships in Track & Field in Osaka, Japan, with several having near-misses in semifinal competition. That will likely change tomorrow, however, when Texas ex Sanya Richards lines up for her semifinal in the 200 meters. It is expected she will easily advance to Friday's final.

Austin's run of "almosts" began on Tuesday. First, former Longhorn NCAA champion Nichole Denby placed fifth in her semi of the 100 meter hurdles, missing the finals by one place, despite running her fastest time of the season. That was followed two hours later by another former Longhorn, Jamaican Melaine Walker, placing third in her 400 meter hurdles semi, also one place from the finals.

The close calls continued today with Reagan High School graduate Brendan Christian – running for his native nation of Antigua – placing fifth in the 200 meters semis. You guessed it – that was one place away from what he needed. His time of 20.36 seconds came just a day after he ran an Antiguan national record of 20.23 in the opening round.

Tomorrow should be a different story. Richards is considered a strong gold medal contender in the 200, even though it's not her best event – despite widely being considered the best 400 meter sprinter in the world, she had a bad race at June's U.S. national championships and place fourth (the top three made the national team). She rebounded a few days later, however, placing second in the 200 and punching her ticket to Osaka. If she qualifies for Friday's final, her strongest competition will come from teammate and defending world champion Allyson Felix and this year's 100 meter champion, Veronica Campbell of Jamaica. She will also run on the U.S. 4x400 meter relay team this weekend.

The gun will fire on Richards' semifinal race Thursday at 10:08pm Osaka time (8:08am Austin time). You can watch it live at, or on television tape-delayed Thursday night on the Versus channel (Time Warner cable Channel 470, Grande Channel 123), 6-8pm.

Coming up on Friday morning (Thursday night Austin time): Former Austinite and Corpus Christi native Amy Acuff, who has held the Texas high school state record of 6 feet, 4 inches since 1993, will attempt to qualify in the high jump. If she makes Sunday's final, it will be the sixth time she has done so at the IAAF championships, going back to 1995.

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IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Track & Field, Sanya Richards, Amy Acuff, Nichole Denby, Melaine Walker, Brendan Christian

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