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Hampton's McCorory, Portsmouth's Merritt qualify for London Olympics
Hampton's McCorory, Portsmouth's Merritt qualify for London Olympics

By Elliott Denman, CORRESPONDENT

11:16 p.m. EDT, June 24, 2012


Francena McCorory and LaShawn Merritt will both head to London next month looking for Olympic gold.

Merritt, a Portsmouth native, will be a hot gold medal candidate. But Bethel High and Hampton University grad Francena McCorory knows that claiming an individual gold will be a much tougher chore.

Running in the 400-meter final on Sunday at historic Hayward Field, McCorory had hoped to pose a serious challenge to veteran Sanya Richards-Ross, the 2009 world titlist who is now a six-time American champion.

But it didn't happen.

Richards-Ross pulled away from the field in the final 150 meters to win it going away in 49.28, equaling the Olympic Trials record, with DeeDee Trotter second in 50.02 and McCorory nabbing third in 50.43.

"I ran until my wheels fell off," McCorory said. "I wouldn't say I ran the smartest race, but I wanted to make the team."

McCorory joins Kellie Wells as former Hampton athletes heading to London. Wells qualified Saturday with a second-place finish in the women's 100-meter hurdles.

Merritt ran a 44.12 lap to win the 400 meters. He is defending Olympic champion and again showed that he will be tough to beat in London.

"After I got through the first round (in 45.36 Friday) and the second round (44.78 Saturday) I knew that eight men were still alive and how much we all wanted to get to London. So I had to go out and run a great race," Merritt said.

And he did — Florida's Tony McQuay ran a distant second in 44.45 with Southern California's Bryshon Nellums third in 44.80 to nail down the other individual 400 spots in London.

Posing Merritt's most likely Olympic challenge is the University of Alabama-trained Kirani James, running for Grenada.

Meanwhile, relay medals — in the men's and women's 4x400's — seem to be in the cards for both Virginians.

"It's a blessing to be alongside these ladies," said McCorory, about Richards-Ross and Trotter.

Poised for potential 4x400 assignments will be Debbie Dunn (50.78), Diamond Dixon (50.80) an Keshia Blake (51.23.)

Candidates for men's relay action will be Josh Mance (44.88), Manteo Mitchell (44.90) and 2004 Olympic titlist Jeremy Wariner (45.24).

Copyright © 2012, Newport News, Va., Daily Press

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