September 23, 2014

Elyria
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Tianna Madison runs personal-record time of 10.85, just misses out on a medal in 100 meters

LONDON — No medal, but no regrets either.

And no reason for any.

Elyria’s Tianna Madison ran a blazing and personal-best time of 10.85 in the 100-meter final Saturday, but in a strong field and on a lightning-fast track, it was good enough only for fourth place.

But finishing one spot and just .04 seconds short of getting a medal was heartening rather than heartbreaking for the 2003 Elyria High grad.

“I got in the blocks and thought this is the time for a perfect start,” said Madison, whose previous best time before Saturday was the 10.96 she ran at the Olympic Trials. “Anything less than first smarts a bit, but I looked at the board and saw 10.85 and I thought, ‘We did it.’ When it was time to put up a time, I did it, and I am just so proud of myself and the team I have behind me, my husband John (Bartoletta) and my coach Rana (Reider).

“I feel like I won, I really do.”

Ah, but that honor went to Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who closed ground over the last 20 meters then leaned in at the line to win in 10.75 seconds and edge American Carmelita Jeter by .03 seconds.

Fraser-Pryce became the first woman to repeat in the 100 since Gail Devers of the U.S. in 1992 and ’96. Another Jamaican, Veronica Campbell-Brown, finished third (10.81) for her second career 100-meter bronze, while Allyson Felix ran a 10.89 to give the U.S. three runners in the top five.

“I knew coming in that I would have to run fast against these women,” Madison, 26, said. “They ran amazing today. Incredible, incredible race.”

Madison won the 2005 World long jump championship but was making first appearance at the Olympics. She ran a 10.97 in her heat Friday to advance to Saturday’s semifinals, where she was second in her heat again, this time with a 10.92, her first personal best of the day.

Madison’s hopes for a medal are by no means over. She is also in the 4×100 relay, which gets started Thursday with the preliminary rounds. The final is Friday.

Four years ago, Fraser-Pryce was relatively unknown, a 21-year-old who first stunned her country, then the world, on her way to Olympic gold. There was a setback in 2010, a six-month ban for using a painkiller to treat a toothache.

“I felt like, ‘What am I going to do? Everyone is going to think I’m a cheat,’” she said back then.

But she cleared her head, got back to work and showed, once again, a knack for peaking at exactly the right time.

What’s more, she won the 200 at the Jamaican Olympic trials, as well. Preliminaries for that race start Monday night.

When the scoreboard finally flashed her in the No. 1 position, Fraser-Pryce dropped to the ground and cried. She ran to the stands, grabbed a Jamaican flag and paraded around with her teammate, Campbell-Brown, known as “VCB” on the island. She’s not finished in London yet, either. VCB is the two-time defending champion in the 200, where she’ll have Fraser-Pryce to contend with again, along with American Allyson Felix.

Felix, who considers the 100 her tuneup for the 200, made the 100 meters after a week of tumult at U.S. trials, finishing in a dead heat for the third and final spot. She faced a run-off against the teammate she tied, but got the spot when that teammate withdrew at the last second.

“I’m happy. I got a personal best,” Felix said. “I’m looking forward to the 200.”

Jeter offered a great big smile after watching her visions of gold vanish by a sliver.

“Everyone wants to win, but I’m on the podium,” Jeter said. “I’m the only American on the podium.”

She’s also one of the biggest enigmas in American track — a late bloomer at age 32 and not much of a talker. She had been the favorite for this event until Fraser-Pryce, not on form through much of the early season, announced she was back with a 10.70 in Kingston last month.

Now, one of those questions any Olympian would love to be asked: Which gold means more?

“I’d have to say Beijing because I was inexperienced, I was young and I never believed I could. But I did,” she said. “This year I came into the championship as a favorite, which was a first for me, so I was a bit nervous. But I believed in myself.”

As magical a night as it was for the Jamaicans, the end of Fraser-Pryce’s win was met with relative silence — or maybe it just seemed that way compared to what had transpired over the previous hour or so.

This happened to be the day when the British finally had their big moment at their Olympics — actually one of their best days at any Olympics.

In rapid succession, the host country won three straight gold medals.

With Prince William (wearing a red Great Britain Olympic ballcap) and his wife, Kate, alongside Prime Minister David Cameron, Jessica Ennis finished out her stirring heptathlon victory by winning the 800-meter finale in 2 minutes, 8.65 seconds. She finished the seven-event heptathlon with 6,955 points, 306 ahead of Lilli Schwarzkopf of Germany.

About 20 minutes later, Greg Rutherford parlayed that momentum to come out of nowhere and win the long jump, his first medal in a major international meet with a leap of 27 feet, 3¼ inches (8.31 meters).

Then, about another 20 minutes later, it was Mo Farah — born in Somalia, training in Portland, Ore., competing for Britain — who brought down the house, sprinting to the finish in the 10,000 meters for a win over his American training partner, Galen Rupp, in 27 minutes, 30.42 seconds. Farah slapped both hands on his head three times, curved back toward the finish line, then continued a celebration that will long be remembered here.

“I saw Jess, and I knew she won the gold, and I wanted to win the gold, too,” Farah said. “As I came through the tunnel, people shouting my name, it was like someone gave me 10 cups of coffee. I knew I had to make something happen, I was just so buzzed up.”

A bit after the evening’s program was finished, hardly anyone in the 80,000-seat stadium had gone home. They waited to sing along to two tunes: “All You Need Is Love,” by the Beatles, and another one that might ring a bell: “God Save the Queen,” played while tears streamed down Ennis’ face during her medals ceremony.

“Massive relief,” Ennis said. “To come into this event with all that pressure, with everyone just saying, ‘Oh, you are going to win gold. You are going to win gold.’”

Hours before the British invasion, the stadium belonged to Oscar Pistorius, the “Blade Runner” from South Africa who made history simply by lining up in the men’s 400, the first amputee to compete in Olympic track. He booked a return date, as well — into the semifinals on Sunday — after finishing second in his heat in 45.44.

“I’ve worked for six years … to get my chance,” Pistorius said. “I found myself smiling in the starting block. Which is very rare in the 400 meters.”