Hyleas Fountain sailing to the US Heptathlon title in Eugene (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Eugene, USA

Fountain prevails, will lead a U.S. trio to London - IAAF Combined Events Challenge

There is no way to choreograph climate, but Hyleas Fountain asserted that conditions of the U.S. Olympic Trials were a proper rehearsal for London.

"It’s great preparation for all of us," she said. "It’s good that we were able to jump through this rain. We know we’ve competed through it today, so we will be prepared for London."

Fountain won the Heptathlon with 6413 points on Saturday (30 June), a 76-point margin over Sharon Day. Chantae McMillan claimed the third spot on the U.S. team, scoring 6188 and exceeding the Olympic "A" standard of 6150.

The Decathlon and Heptathlon at the U.S. trials are part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.

Fountain led by 211 points through five events and eased to the finish with the "A" standard and berth secured. Her javelin throw of 40.43m was nearly eight meters less than her personal best, and her 2:17.90 in the 800m was two seconds off her PB.

Still, the total was her second-best since the 6619 that earned a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Fountain, 31, said she knew she would make the team "if I didn’t do anything too crazy." All her training has been aimed toward the Olympics, she said, not the trials.

"My goal was to finish the meet and then go to London and get on the podium there," Fountain said. "I’m blessed to be with these women and go to London."

The national championship was Fountain’s fifth. She is the only American besides Jackie Joyner-Kersee to win an Olympic medal in the Heptathlon.

In London, the Americans will be challenged for continental supremacy by their Canadian neighbors. Jessica Zelinka (6,599) and Brianne Theisen (6,440) rank No. 4 and 10, respectively, on the 2012 world list. Fountain is 11th.

Day, 27, who had previously met the "A" standard, made the Olympic team in 2008 as a high jumper.

Much of the competition’s drama focused on McMillan, 24. Her hopes of reaching 6150 were seemingly crushed after a long jump of merely 5.52m. Instead, needing a time under 2:21 in the 800m, she ran a PB of 2:17.71 to get the necessary score and place.

Competing in the Olympics would have been unimaginable 10 months ago. McMillan was recovering from surgery on her patellar tendon, and she couldn’t resume normal training until March.

"I just wanted to give it my all," she said. "My purpose was that every step was for the Lord."

Bettie Wade, 25, finished fourth with 6018 points. Barbara Nwaba, 23, was fifth, tying her PB of 5986.

Nwaba is the daughter of Nigerian parents and could have represented that nation in the Olympics because she exceeded the "B" standard of 5950. The California resident said she wanted to make the U.S. team.

An event-by-event summary of Day 2:

Long Jump
Fountain opened by jumping 6.30m to extend her lead, then fouled twice. McMillan, with a PB of 6.33m, jumped only 5.52 and cost herself more than 200 points.

Wade jumped 6.21m, finishing second to Fountain, and stayed in contention for that third Olympic spot.

Javelin Throw
Fountain, with a PB of 48.15m, settled for a safe throw of 40.43m and passed her final attempt. Nwaba effectively fell out of contention with a 37.88m throw, nearly nine metres less than her PB. Wade, never a strong javelin thrower, similarly fell back with a 35.79m distance.

McMillan surpassed her PB three times, including her second-round throw of 50.24m. That preserved her chance to reach London.

Except for McMillan’s clinching run, little changed in this race because the field was so compressed. McMillan’s PB was her fifth of the competition.

Fountain was 16th in 2:17.90, but she was only six seconds and 84 points behind winner Shakeia Pinnick.

David Woods for the IAAF

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