EUGENE, Ore. — Sanya Richards-Ross stepped over a puddle, ran hard for a few more steps, then jogged to the finish line for an easy win.
A routine result Friday at the rain-drenched Olympic trials that left one of America’s biggest track stars with nothing to complain about.
Well, almost nothing.
“Other than it messing up my hair, it’s OK,” she said.
Richards-Ross ran her qualifying heat in the 400 meters in 51.69 seconds, winning by 0.55 seconds even though she jogged to the finish.
“We all have to compete in it,” said Richards-Ross, who will also try to qualify in the 200 next week. “Whatever it is, go out here and put in your best show.”
A few minutes earlier, defending Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt took to the rain-slickened track, sidestepped a runner who fell in the lane next to him and finished in 45.36 seconds, the best time in the men’s heats.
“I saw him and I had to do a little step more toward the inside of my land, where I should’ve been in the first place,” Merritt said.
Jeremy Wariner, the 2004 Olympic champion, also advanced to today’s semifinals, though his race wasn’t quite such a breeze. He finished third in his heat in a time of 45.84.
“Just clearing the cobwebs out,” Wariner said. “I worked my turn pretty well. I saved a lot for the homestretch.”
David Neville, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, finished last in his heat and won’t go to London unless he is chosen for the relay team.
The 400 runners have semifinals today, with finals scheduled for Sunday.
In the decathlon, Ashton Eaton was ahead of a world-record pace for two events. His shot put throw of 46 feet, 7 3/4 inches took him off that otherwordly pace, but he still led two-time world champion Trey Hardee by 149 points with seven events to go.
Everybody else was trying to make the best of it, knowing that under U.S. rules, the top three qualify – no excuses or second chances, even for the best of the best.
“You have to adapt to what the weather is, how the track is,” Merritt said. “Know what you’re doing before you get out there. You know the weather, the wind, and the track is slippery. It’s all about going in with a plan and executing.”