Heartbreak for Richards in Beijing

World's top quartermiler comes up short again

Austin's Sanya Richards suffered another championship disappointment
Austin's Sanya Richards suffered another championship disappointment (photo courtesy of the IAAF)

Despite three years atop the world rankings in the women's 400 meters, former Longhorn track & field champion Sanya Richards still has no global championship gold around her neck. On Tuesday, she appeared to be powering her way to sweet victory in the one-lap race, only to have it turn sour as her hamstring cramped with about 80 meters to go. She faded to the bronze medal position, finishing in 49.93 seconds, well short of her personal best.

The fates seem to be aligned against her in championship races: Last year, she was unquestionably the best quartermiler in the world, but illness hit her at just the wrong time and kept her off the U.S. team for the World Championships. Richards had hoped this would be a perfect championship year for her future family: Her fiance, New York Giants (and ex-UT) cornerback Aaron Ross picked up a Super Bowl ring in February.

She wasn't the only Austin athlete to suffer disappointment. Leo Manzano, who I interviewed earlier this month, after running a solid time of 3 minutes and 36 seconds in his opening heat, fell apart in the semifinals on Sunday, finishing 12th (last) in 3:50.33.

That same day, high jumper Andra Manson (a former Longhorn teammate of Manzano's) narrowly missed qualifying for the high jump finals. His leap of 7 feet, 4 1/2 inches matched that of some of those who qualified, but he failed to advance because he had more misses than they did.

And Reagan High School graduate Brendan Christian, representing the Caribbean island nation of Antigua, narrowly missed a spot in the men's 200 meters final. His time of 20.29 on Tuesday fell just .04 short.

Happier Austinites: Jamaican ex-Horn Melaine Walker, the favorite in the 400 meters hurdles, easily made the finals in 54.20 seconds. She'll run for the gold Wednesday night. And Marshevet Hooker advanced to the semifinals in the 200 meters; she'll run next shortly before Walker. Finally, Trey Hardee begins the two-day decathlon on Thursday. Track & Field News picks Hardee to finish sixth; personally, I think he'll medal.

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