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TRACK & FIELD U.S. OPEN: Veronica Campbell Brown and Lolo Jones Shine in their 2012 Visa Championship Series debut

TRACK & FIELD U.S. OPEN: Veronica Campbell Brown and Lolo Jones Shine in their 2012 Visa Championship Series debut

NEW YORK — Lolo Jones made a successful return after an injury-plagued 2011 season.  As Jones began a comeback from back surgery, which ended her season following last year’s 2011 USA Outdoor Championships, she ran the fastest time in the world since 2008 to win the Visa Women’s 50m hurdles in 6.78 seconds. Jones, the two-time defending World Indoor champion, outran a field that included Tiffany Porter of Great Britain and American Kellie Wells, who finished second and third, respectively.  “I had not raced in so long,” the two-time World Indoor Champion said after the race.  “The question was, ‘how was I going to react?’ This year I have just been working on my core strength and speed. I didn’t even know what the world record was. I knew that I had to go out there and just run. It felt good. What I learned from the Olympics last year is that anything can happen.”

Veronica Campbell-Brown got off to a quick start in the Harris  women’s 50m dash and the rest of the field was unable to touch her as she recorded the fastest 50m time in the world since 2000. Campbell-Brown won in 6.08, with Jessica Young second in 6.20 and Glroia Asumnu third in 6.22.

Brenda Martinez may not have entered the Chase Women’s mile as the favorite, but that did not stop her from storming past the field to take the win in 4:34.62. Sarah Vaughn finished three seconds back in 4:37.12, and Anna Pierce took third in 4:39.97.

In the Women’s 500 yards, Keshia Baker claimed first in her first race as a professional. Baker finished in 1:03.74, while Fawn Dorr took the runner-up spot in 1:04.35.

In the Harris Women’s 800m, Fantu Magiso of Ethiopia won the race with ease in a time of 2:07.54. High school senior Ajeé Wilson surged ahead through the final curve to move from last place to take the runner-up spot in a field of professionals. Wilson’s time was 2:09.09.  “It was very exciting.”  Wilson said after the race.  “Honestly I was kind of nervous coming into this race knowing everyone was faster than me and had run faster times. But I was also excited because I knew if they were running faster than me, they would pull me to a better time.”

In the women’s pole vault, Jillian Schwartz, Janice Keppler and Becky Holliday cleared the first two heights. At the third height of 4.52m/14-10, only Schwartz was successful as she cleared the bar on her second attempt to claim the win. Keppler and Holliday were unable to clear the bar and took second and third, respectively. Jenn Suhr passed and waited to come in at 4.52m/14-10, but missed on all three attempts.

Veronica Campbell-Brown U.S. Open post-race interview from Women’s Sports & Ent. Network on Vimeo.

Pre-U.S Open Press Conference

American hurdler Dawn Harper along with Jamaican sprinters Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and Nesta Carter answered questions regarding Saturday’s U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden. Below are excerpts from the press conference. For more information on the U.S. Open please see www.usopen.usatf.org.

Dawn Harper

The 2008 Olympic 100m hurdles gold medalist will compete in the 50m hurdles at the Garden. Also scheduled to compete in the race is Kellie Wells (USA), Lolo Jones (USA), Tiffany Porter (GBR), Nia Ali (USA) and Ginnie Crawford (USA).

Dawn Harper (USA) & Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM)

On Indoor competition

“It has been four years since the last time I ran indoors. My coach wanted me to focus on my start during the indoor season. We are really focusing on some things with that.”

On winning a bronze medal at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships and her training group

“I was glad to come home with the bronze. We have a great training group. (Coach) Bobby Kersee is very intense at track practice. But it has been a very good group. We are going to do some good things. Coach Kersee is intense especially on those days that are going to be long.”

On coming back from knee surgery

“I still do rehab for it. Once we realized (my knee) was okay, it was all mental from there. I remember warming up before the race and I just came down on it wrong. From then it has been more mental but I’m pretty much over it now.”

On the pressure of defending her Olympic gold medal

“First of all I am blessed to have reigning in front of it. If I didn’t have that that means I didn’t win. I like the pressure that comes with it. The 100 meter hurdlers give you nothing. You know whoever finishes first went through blood, sweat and tears to win. I am very happy to be defending my title. You are an Olympic champion. Sometimes you have to take a step back and don’t put so much pressure on yourself. You have to know who you are and go back to those childhood days when you enjoyed it.”

On running the 50m hurdles

“It is very important for this race to see where I am at. I normally rev up after three hurdles. It’s going to be good when the gun goes off.”

Veronica Campbell-Brown

The two-time defending Olympic gold medalist in the 200m, Campbell-Brown will race the 50m against Bianca Knight (USA), Alexandria Anderson (USA), Tehesia Harrigan (IVB), Jessica Young (USA) and Gloria Asumnu (NGR).

On the possibility on becoming the first athlete to ever win three Olympic gold medals in the 200m

“To be able to win three gold medals would be a great accomplishment for me. I am blessed to have won twice. To think I could become the first person in history to win three is special. The objective is to stay healthy.”

On the start in the 50m and running indoors

“It’s always a pleasure to be here. I have never run the 50 meters before. When you come to these short races you have to get a good start.”

On her training

“I am smarter with my training. I don’t feel a day older and I have motivation to work hard. I want to keep my “A” game.”

On the difficulty of making the Jamaican Olympic team and the popularity of the sport

“It’s not going to be easy. The harder it is the harder I have worked. Jamaicans love the sport. We have the biggest high school championship. Running in Jamaica is very popular. Kids are involved in track and field at a young age. I was involved at age eight or nine.”

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Powerhouse, full fields announced for U.S. Open

English: Dawn Harper during 2011 World champio...

Dawn Harper (USA) - Image via Wikipedia

English: Veronica Campbell during 2011 World c...

Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM) - Image via Wikipedia

NEW YORK – Madison Square Garden will host perhaps the best and deepest fields it has seen in several years as the 2012 Olympic track & field season kicks off in earnest with the U.S. Open Track & Field event on Saturday, January 28.

Stars such as David Oliver, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell, Jesse Williams, Nesta Carter, Christian Cantwell, Adam Nelson, Dawn Harper, Kellie Wells, Tiffany Ofili Porter, and Jenn Suhr all have been announced previously.

The inaugural edition of the U.S. Open is the first event of USATF’s Visa Championships Series and will be held in the newly renovated Garden. The first major professional meet in the United States to kick-off the 2012 Olympic year, it will be broadcast on Sunday, January 29, from 7-9 p.m. on ESPN2.

More fireworks in sprints, hurdles

The defending World Indoor champion, Campbell-Brown will have her hands full in the Women’s 50 meters with reigning U.S. indoor champion Alexandria Anderson and Bianca Knight, who led off Team USA’s gold-medal winning 4x100m relay at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships.

Other top athletes announced Wednesday include World Junior champion and 2011 USATF Youth Athlete of the Year Ajee Wilson in the women’s 800 meters, Anna Pierce in the women’s mile, Ginnie Crawford in the women’s 50m hurdles, Greg Nixon in the men’s 500 and Monica Hargrove in the women’s 500 yards. A student at the Neptune Academy of Allied Health and Science –  Monmouth, N.J., Wilson looks to follow in the Madison Square Garden footsteps of a fellow Jersey Girl, the legendary Joetta Clark-Diggs, whose high school records Wilson broke in 2011.

Women’s Events

LoLo Jones during Doha 2010 World Indoor Champ...

Lolo Jones - Image via Wikipedia

50 meters: Bianca Knight (USA), Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM), Alexandria Anderson (USA), Tehesia Harrigan (IVB), Jessica Young (USA), Gloria Asumnu (NGR)

500 yards: Monica Hargrove (USA), Jasmine Chaney (USA), Keshia Baker (USA), Davita Prendergast (JAM)

800 meters: Ajee Wilson (USA), Fantu Magiso (ETH), Jessica Smith (CAN)

Mile: Anna Pierce (USA), Stephanie Garcia (USA), Lauren Hagans (USA), Brenda Martinez (USA)

50-meter hurdles: Kellie Wells (USA), Lolo Jones (USA), Dawn Harper (USA), Tiffany Porter (GBR), Nia Ali (USA), Ginnie Crawford (USA)

Pole Vault: Jenn Suhr (USA), Becky Holliday (USA), Jillian Schwartz (ISR), Lacy Jansen (USA), Mary Saxer (USA), Janice Keppler (USA)

courtesy ustaf.org press release

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Denise J. Saul is the Founder/President of WSEN-Women's Sports & Entertainment Network.

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