EUGENE, United States: Sanya Richards-Ross’s dream of a fairytale Olympic swansong ended in tears here Friday as the 2012 400 meters champion limped out of the US trials.
The 31-year-old star, who has been struggling with injuries in recent years, had been hoping to force her way into the US team for Rio before heading into retirement.
However the veteran never looked comfortable almost from the start of her heat atEugene’s Hayward Field and pulled up on the final bend in obvious discomfort.
“It was tough to keep running,” Richards-Ross said afterwards, confirming her career was over. “When I tried to move on the curve I really felt my hamstring grab at me. It just wasn’t worth it.”
Richards-Ross admitted she had been determined to make the Olympics despite being troubled by toe and hamstring problems.
“No Rio. That’s the toughest part for me,” she said. “As an athlete you always want to go to the Olympics no matter how banged up you are, you still think there’s a chance. “I just thought at the end of the race ‘Man — this is the end of it for me’ and that was the toughest part.”
Asked to reflect on her career, Richards-Ross choked back tears.
“I learned a lot and I’ll forever love this sport. Thank you,” she said.
Felix dream alive
Elsewhere Friday, 2012 200m champion Allyson Felix kept her dream of a rare 400-200 double in Rio alive to emerge from her heat.
Felix, winner of the 400m at the World Championships last year, finished second behind Quanera Hayes in a time of 51.96 seconds.
The 30-year-old from Los Angeles is aiming to become only the third woman after Valerie Brisco-Hooks of the U.S. in 1984 and Marie-Jose Perec of France in 1996 to have won the 200m and 400m in the same games.
But Felix, who has been hampered by an ankle injury after an accident in training earlier this year, did not appear to be moving with her usual fluency and later did not speak to reporters.
Felix is likely to face stiff competition this weekend, with Courtney Okolo, Francena McCorory and Phyllis Francis all more than second quicker on Friday.
In the men’s 400m, 2008 Beijing Olympics champion LaShawn Merritt eased into the semi-finals with a comfortable win in his heat. Merritt clocked 45.54sec to reach the semi-finals fourth fastest.
In the men’s 800m, world indoor champion Boris Berian drew a line under his recent legal problems to cruise into the semi-finals.
Berian, who blasted to victory at the indoor world championships in Portland earlier this year, was racing for the first time since sports goods giant Nike dropped a threatened lawsuit against him.
The 23-year-old California-based middle distance runner was all smiles on Friday after coasting to victory in his heat in a time of 1 minute 46.03 seconds.
“It’s nice to get that weight off my shoulders. I didn’t realize how much it was bothering me until it was settled,” Berian told reporters. “I just relaxed today and it was a good feeling.”
In the men’s 10,000m, London 2012 silver medalist Galen Rupp booked his ticket to Rio with a gutsy victory in 27:55.04, coming home ahead of Shadrack Kipchirchir and Leonard Korir. AFP