MOSCOW, Russia – Jeneba Tarmoh finished fifth and was the top American in the women’s 200 final at the IAAF World Championships as she clocked 22.78 seconds from lane one. Meanwhile, Jessica Beard and Curtis Mitchell both advanced to the finals of their respective events during Friday’s action at Luzhniki Stadium.
Beard was part of a heat winning 4x400 relay for Team USA while Mitchell won a pair of races in the first round and semifinal of the 200 meters and is the lone American sprinter in the final of the 200. Saturday’s final for the women’s 4x400 will held at 10:30 a.m. while the final of the men’s 200 is set for 11:10 a.m. local time.
Beard blistered her second leg carry, splitting 49.78 seconds, as she established a commanding lead for the next two legs run by Joanna Atkins (51.86) and Francena McCorory (51.61). Ashley Spencer (51.93) opened the relay for the Americans.
The foursome that ran the relay for the United States represented the past five years of NCAA Outdoor champions in the 400 meters – Atkins (Auburn - 2009), McCorory (Hampton - 2010), Beard (Texas A&M - 2011), and Spencer (Illinois - 2012 & 2013).
“I love second leg,” said Beard. “I would do it all the time if I could. Ashley [Spencer] did so well. I just wanted to make sure I did what we talked about as a team and made sure Francena [McCorory] didn't have to do a lot of work on the anchor leg.”
The US squad won the heat in 3:25.18 ahead of Italy (3:29.62) and Ukraine (3:29.63). Great Britain won the second heat in 3:25.39 with Nigeria (3:27.39) and France (3:27.75) advancing to the final. Russia claimed the third heat in 3:23.51 over Jamaica’s 3:25.25. When Jamaica was disqualified for a lane infraction it moved Romania (3:29.62) into the final.
In the morning session Mitchell won his heat of the men’s 200 in 20.37 to finish ahead of Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (20.44). Mitchell’s time was equal fourth best among the 24 sprinters moving on to the semifinal.
“I'm glad to get that first one out of the way,” noted Mitchell. “You don't really know how your body is going to respond since you've been sitting down all week. It's the first one so you're nervous and excited. I'm just thankful I came away with a healthy, nice, clean race.”
Running in the first of three semifinal heats, Mitchell set the tone with a personal best of 19.97 (0.0 wind) to reach the final as he recorded the fastest time of the semis. Mitchell, who has run 19.99 twice in his career, defeated Olympic bronze medalist Warren Weir of Jamaica (20.20) and Saidy Ndure (20.33).
"I'm just real blessed right now,” said Mitchell. “Everything is coming together, all the hard work. I'm just happy that it was a good run. Tomorrow will be special."
Usain Bolt claimed the second semi heat in 20.12 over a 20.13 from South African Anaso Jobodwana and a non-advancing 20.36 from American Isiah Young. The third semi was captured by Adam Gemili of Great Britain in a PR of 19.98 with Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade second (20.00).
The final of the men’s 200 will have Mitchell in lane 3, Bolt in lane 4 and Gemili in lane 5.
Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce completed a sprint double as she won the women’s 200 in 22.17 (-0.3 wind) to go with her gold in the 100 (10.71). Murille Ahoure added silver in the 200 (22.32) to her 100m silver medal effort while Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare (22.32) finished third.
ChaRonda Williams was the next US sprinter in the 200, placing sixth in 22.81, while favored Allyson Felix injured her hamstring early in the race and did not finish.
An injured Deon Lendore missed running in the men’s 4x400 final as Trinidad & Tobago placed sixth with a time of 3:01.74. The United States posted a world-leading 2:58.71 for the victory with Jamaica (2:59.88) and Russia (2:59.90) claiming silver and bronze.