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Wariner and Richards-Ross open 400m seasons with victories in Waco - IAAF

Published by
Matt Scherer   Apr 24th 2011, 11:47pm

24 April 2011 - Waco, USA - The Michael Johnson Invitational meeting has become the yearly coming-out party for Coach Clyde Hart’s current pair of 400m aces – Jeremy Wariner and Sanya Richards-Ross.

Both won on Saturday (23), but they had to fight off tough homestretch challenges, plus swirling winds which gusted as high as 6 metres per second.

Wariner ran the first half of his race conservatively, came into the last 100 metres even with Berlin bronze medalist Renny Quow of Trinidad & Tobago and showed enough strength to pull away in the final strides, 45.61 to 45.69.

In a preceding section, Mychal Dungey of Texas Christian had PR’d winning an even closer stretch battle with Baylor’s current 400 ace Marcus Boyd, 45.64 to 45.65. So Wariner eked out his first 400m win in a year where he hopes to dominate the event as he did a few years ago.

”It wasn’t as fast as I would have liked, but I’ll take it,"  said Wariner, the 2004 Olympic champion and last year's inaugural Samsung Diamond League series winner in the event.

"The wind was in my face about three-quarters of the race. It was tough, especially in the home stretch. Coach wanted me to run 21.5 for the first 200, but I ran 21.8. I was hoping to go under 44, but it was my first 400 of the year, so I’m okay with it. It’s about the same time as I ran in my first race last year In Puerto Rico, but I felt better here.”

Wariner was the 2010 world leader at 44.13 and won all but one of his nine 400m races last season.

First 400m race for Richards-Ross in 10 months

Richards-Ross found herself three metres down to Texas A&M’s Jessica Beard at the halfway point in the women’s 400m, but she ran a strong curve and just had too much strength for Beard, winning in 52.00 to Beard’s 52.37.

Said Richards-Ross, “I’m pleased. The first race is always the hardest.” Having missed almost all of 2010 because of injuries, she added, “this feels like it was my first race in two years.. The best thing about it was my strength in the finishing straight. If there was no wind I think this would have been a 50-point time.”

Saturday's outing was the first for Richards-Ross in the 400m since the semi-finals of the 2010 US championships on 25 June.

"I’ve been working a lot on my endurance. I haven’t done a lot of speed work yet. So the fact that my endurance is there makes me very happy."

The day’s other outstanding track performance was an 800m victory by 20-year-old Jamaican Natoya Goule (rhymes with ‘rule’), a freshman at South Plains College in Lubbock, Texas. The diminutive Goule, who can’t be taller than 1.56m, took the lead immediately, running splits of 28 and 58 seconds, and went on to win by 40 metres in 2:02.11, lowering her PB from 2:02.52.

In the field events, one performance stood out. Nick Lyons, a Baylor senior, won the javelin with a PB 78.39. After thus raising his best from 75.63, he says he will explore ways to continue competing after his graduation later this spring.

James Dunaway for the IAAF

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