LONDON, England — Olympic history is on the line today when the eight finalists in the women's 200m line up just before 9:00 pm UK time (3:00 pm Jamaica time) in front of what is expected to be yet another full house at Olympic Stadium in Stratford, east London.
Veronica Campbell Brown, who will run out of lane five, sandwiched by teammate and repeat 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to her left and American, Jamaican-born Sanya Richards-Ross to her right, with her great rival Allyson Felix one lane over in lane seven, is seeking to become the first woman to win three consecutive 200m titles at the Olympics.
The finalists were decided last night following the semi-finals which saw Campbell Brown win her heat in a season-best 22.32 seconds; Fraser-Pryce (22.34 seconds) was second in her heat to Richards-Ross (22.30 seconds), while Felix dominated her heat, winning in 22.31 seconds.
France's Myriam Soumare; Trinidad and Tobago's Semoy Hackett, who ran a national record 22.55 seconds; a third American, Carmelita Jeter and the Ivory Coast's Muielle Ahoure complete the field.
The third Jamaican, Sherone Simpson, was sixth in her semi-final in 22.71 seconds and failed to advance.
Campbell Brown, who was third in the 100m final four nights ago, has not looked the dominant athlete she was up to last year when she won the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, but is one of the most successful athletes of all times and her championships pedigree is not to be dismissed.
After a subpar looking first round where she was third the day before, Campbell Brown ran out of lane nine last night and powered around the curve to lead Jeter and Soumare to the finish line.
Creating history, she said, however, was not her focus going into the final. "I can't focus on that right now," she said. "My objective is to make sure I navigate my race good and it is going to be very competitive I know that, and I just need to stay focused and make sure that I do not make any mistakes."
She said she was aware that she had to make amends after a subpar first round where she was third. "I didn't run a very good heat yesterday (Monday), but grateful that I came out today and executed my race and I am in the final."
Fraser-Pryce ran a superb curve coming off the bend ahead of 400m champion Richards-Ross and slowed down appreciably as the American, who was driving hard, nipped her on the line.
Stephen Francis, Fraser-Pryce's coach, had told the Jamaica Observer on Saturday she can win the double, but would have to run a technically better race than she did in the 100m. He said she would have time to put her race plans in place and to execute when it matters most.
Felix, who has a world leading 21.69 seconds, is seen by many as the runner to beat as she seeks her first Olympic title after finishing behind Campbell Brown in Athens, Greece in 2004 and four years ago in Beijing, China, as well as in Deagu at the World Championships last year.
Felix, who was fifth in the 100m final, which she said she was using to prepare for the 200m, has looked in superb form in the half-lap race in two runs so far and will be a factor in the final stages, all things being well.