By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 25, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS, June 24 -- Alan Webb held up his end of the pre-race deal he made with Bernard Lagat, his only real rival in the 1,500 meters in the United States. Webb took the lead for two laps of the final at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, allowing Lagat to give his legs -- weary from winning the 5,000 meters Friday -- a bit of a rest.
But Webb's generosity had limits.
Webb took off in the homestretch, outkicking Lagat and a surprising collegian to claim his third U.S. title in the 1,500 in 3 minutes 34.82 seconds while lowering Steve Scott's 25-year-old meet record in the event by .10 of a second. Webb, who did not compete at the U.S. championships last year because of injuries, dropped to his knees at the finish.
"To lose the title and get it back was, I don't know, emotional, I guess," said Webb, who attended South Lakes High. "I just really, really wanted to prove myself and do it again."
Lagat, the Kenyan-born American record holder, finished third in 3:35.55, just behind University of Texas miler Leonel Manzano (3:35.29). Webb said he and Lagat hatched the deal because they wanted to make sure neither fell victim to elimination from the world team because of a quirky outcome to a slow-paced race.
The top three finishers in each event here qualify for the August world championships in Osaka.
They agreed a fast race would guarantee that both made the team -- "we knew if we went out at 1:56 and kept pushing through 12 [laps], we would drop almost everybody," Webb said.
Since Webb's legs were the freshest, he got the job of setting the pace early.
"I was," he said, "willing to do that."Richards Rebounds in 200
Sanya Richards made up for her shocking fourth-place finish in the 400 meters Saturday with a second in the 200 final Sunday, earning a place on the world team in that event.
Richards finished in 22.43 seconds, behind Allyson Felix (22.34). Torri Edwards, the 100 champion, claimed third (22.55). Richards, who has been plagued by a strange virus for two months, said she pondered dropping out of the event after a night of little sleep and recurring nightmares about the debacle in the 400.
"I wanted to give up," Richards said. "I didn't want to run today. . . . I was really surprised at how strong I felt."Johnson Fades in Hurdles
Lake Braddock High graduate Allen Johnson missed nearly three months of training because of a right calf injury. He returned to the track, he said, last Tuesday. He knew it would be extremely difficult to make the world team in the 110 hurdles -- an event in which he was won four world titles.
But he slipped into Sunday's final and promised to give it his best shot. Johnson, however, looked fatigued and out of synch. He finished seventh in 13.60 as Terrence Trammell claimed the national title in 13.08.
"I'm disappointed, that's all," said Johnson, vowing to continue his quest for a fourth Olympic Games in 2008.
"I came out here and gave it everything I had."Robinson Takes the 800
Khadevis Robinson ran away with the 800 final in 1:44.37, easily holding off a charging Nick Symmonds (1:45.17) in the homestretch. . . .
Former Georgetown standout Sheena Johnson finished second in the 400 hurdles in 53.29 seconds, just .01 behind Tiffany Williams. Virginia Tech's Sherlenia Green finished eighth in 57.47. . . .
Hayfield High graduate Nikeya Green finished eighth in the women's 800 in 2:04.46. Alysia Johnson won in 1:59.47.