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Wind-aided 100 helps Hooker to record

28 June 2008

Allyson Felix owns Olympic and world championship medals, and is seen by many as a possible star of the Beijing games.

Lauryn Williams has her share of medals, too.

Torri Edwards won a world title.

And Marshevet Hooker, whose primary track accomplishments so far came in college, managed to put that entire trio on notice: She appears to be peaking at the top-three-in-one-race U.S. Olympic track trials.

Hooker will have everyone's attention when the sprinters line up for the 100-meter semifinals and, she hopes, final Saturday.

That's because she ran a wind-aided 10.76 seconds to win her 100-meter quarterfinal Friday, tying her with former world record-holder Ashford as the fifth-fastest woman in all conditions.

"I heard the time first," said Hooker, an NCAA champion at Texas. "I was like, 'Wow!'"

Then, though, she heard the wind speed: 3.4 meters per second, above the 2.0 that's allowed for a time to count as a personal best or official record.

Still, only world-record holder Florence Griffith-Joyner, Marion Jones, Christine Arron and Merlene Ottey ever have run faster, regardless of wind. That impressed the other women in what's considered a talented field, with more than a half-dozen legitimate contenders for the 100 berths on the Beijing games roster.

"She was fast. Real fast," said Edwards, the 2003 world champion in the 100. "I hope she's tired."

Hooker also had the fastest time of the opening round Friday, a wind-aided 10.94.

In addition to the last two rounds of the women's 100, Saturday's schedule at Hayward Field was to include the start of the men's 100 heats, the conclusion of the heptathlon and the men's shot put final.

Edwards won her 100 quarterfinal in a wind-aided 10.85, while Carmelita Jeter advanced by winning hers in 10.97. Felix, hoping to compete in four events in China, was second to Jeter in 10.98, and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Williams finished behind Hooker in 10.86.

"Everybody's bringing their 'A' game. There's only three spots, so everybody's trying their best," said Williams, who won the 2005 world championship in the 100.

The 23-year-old Hooker's best legal time in the 100 is 10.94 seconds, and she's not nearly as established as some of her competitors.

While Edwards, for example, was winning the dash at the U.S. national championships in 2007, Hooker was failing to get past the semifinals in that event.

But she's been working with Jon Drummond, a former Olympic sprinter who coaches Tyson Gay, the man who won world titles in the 100 and 200 last year and is favored in those events here.

The first athletes to secure their Olympic team berths came in the women's 10,000 at the end of Friday's session, led by winner Shalane Flanagan in 31 minutes, 34.81 seconds, breaking the Hayward Field mark set by Mary Slaney in 1982. Kara Goucher and Amy Begley also earned trips to Beijing.

Begley barely made it, though, finishing 1 1/2 seconds inside the Olympic qualifying standard. She received pats on the back from 2004 Olympian Flanagan and 2007 world bronze medalist Goucher, then joined them for a celebratory trot around the track.

"It still hasn't hit me that I'm going to Beijing, because I thought I was off 1 or 2 seconds," Begley said.

"This is probably the best day ever."

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