Sanya Richards takes her fifth straight American 400m title at the USA Track & Field National Championships in Oregon.
Richards peaking at right time
Sanya Richards showed she is ready to challenge Britain's Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu for 400m supremacy in Berlin later this year when she took her fifth American title at the USA Track & Field National Championships in Oregon late on Saturday. Richards, the top-ranked 400m runner in 2008, had to settle for third place in Beijing last August as Ohuruogu took Olympic gold. But she has the two fastest times of the year to date and she stamped her pedigree for this August's world championships in Germany with a third at Eugene's Hayward Field.
Negotiating a windy back straight, Richards powered to a 50.05sec win with Debbie Dunn (50.79) and Jessica Beard (50.81) making up the US contingent for Berlin as the nationals double as team trials. Olympic men's 400m champion LaShawn Merritt celebrated his birthday in style with a national title in 44.50, Gil Roberts second in 44.93 with 2007 world 400m hurdles champion Kerron Clement, also the Olympic silver medallist in that event, third on the flat in 45.14.
The Americans swept the Olympic medals in Beijing with world champion Jeremy Wariner claiming silver and David Neville bronze but with a champions' bye for Berlin Wariner did not need to race and Neville could only manage fifth place in 45.49. Lashinda Demus took the women's 400m hurdles final from Sheena Tosta and Tiffany Williams with the fastest time in the world this year. Olympic silver medallist David Payne staged an upset in form to win the men's 110 metres hurdles from Terrence Trammell.
Elsewhere, Olympic gold medallist and world record holder Usain Bolt held off his rival Asafa Powell to win the 100m title at the Jamaican Championships in Kingston. The 22-year-old won with the fastest wind-legal time in the world this year of 9.86secs while Powell came in second at 9.97secs. * PA Sport