LONDON — Tianna Madison was no surprise on the track Friday.
She was a little bit of one off it though.
The Elyria native made the most of her first taste of Olympic competition Friday by turning in a speedy, near-personal-record time of 10.97 to take second in her heat of the 100 meters and advance to today’s semifinals.
Then she actually stopped to chat with the media, something she’s been avoiding in recent months as she turned all her attention to rejuvenating her career.
“It has been 216 days since January 1, when I made this commitment,” Madison, who had the fifth-fastest qualifying time, was quoted in the Knoxville News Sentinel. “That’s when I decided to train hard, period. This is a real attitude adjustment for me, a real lifestyle change … I’ve been in a bubble.”
Giving much of the credit to her new husband, John Bartoletta, for her newfound focus and determination, Madison said a key has been losing 20 pounds since September.
“It’s making all the difference for me,” she said. “I talked with my husband and we decided it’s time to step up and get serious about training and that’s what we did.”
Madison, 26, had a bye in the preliminary round and only had to run once Friday. Today’s semifinals are at 2:35 EST with the finals at 4:55.
Madison will be in the third heat. The top two from each of the three semifinals, as well as the next two fastest times, make finals.
The Elyria High grad and 2005 World long jump champ got a good start in her race, leading most of the way until Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare caught and passed her with about 25 meters to go.
Madison’s best time of 10.96 came at the Olympic Trials, where she was second. Friday’s performance felt almost as good.
“Oh, yeah, sub-11 is always fun,” Madison said.
Of course, five other competitors Friday had the same kind of fun, led by the 10.83 turned in by world champion Carmelita Jeter of the U.S. Also breaking the 11-second mark were Okagbarge (10.93), Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica (10.94), Kelly-Ann Baptiste of Trinidad and Tobego (10.96) and the Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure (10.99).
Then there was defending Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica who won her heat in 11 flat. Allyson Felix of the U.S. also advanced with a time of 11.01.
Four years ago in Beijing, only one runner entered the semifinals with a sub-11 time.
“This is way fast. I literally ran zero to 60, shut it down and then ran (10.99),” Ahoure said. “I can’t believe it. Whoa. Fast track.”
Madison, however, let it be known she believes she has another gear.
“There’s always something left,” she said. “That’s where the heart factor comes in. Look for that (today).”
Westlake’s Margot Shumway and double sculls partner Sarah Trowbridge finished sixth and last in Friday’s finals. The duo finished in 7:10.54 as Great Britain won the gold ( 6:55.82) and Australia the silver. Poland took bronze.
The 33-year-old Shumway, who also made the Olympics in 2008, said she plans to retire, but she was proud of the effort they turned in.
“Sarah and I did it together,” the Westlake graduate said. “No matter if we won gold or came in sixth today, it was the two of us coming down that course together. And I think we’ve been the driving force behind this the whole time.”
Nate Brannen, the husband of former Amherst High School track and cross country standout Theresa Feldkamp, finished fifth in his heat of the 1,500 meters Friday to advance to Sunday’s semifinals.
A member of the Canadian Olympic team, he had a time of 3:39.95.