June 22, 2012 / 11:56 PM / 7 years ago

Wet hair Richards-Ross' only problem at rainy U.S. trials

EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - Former world champion Sanya Richards-Ross had only one problem with her women’s 400 meters preliminary race at the rainy U.S. Olympic trials on Friday.

Runner Sanya Richards-Ross warms up prior to the first round of the women's 400 meters during the U.S. Olympic athletics trials in Eugene, Oregon June 22, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

“Other than messing up my hair, it was fine,” she quipped after jogging the last 100 meters in a steady rain to win her heat.

The Jamaican-born American, who is bidding for spots on the American team in the 200 and 400 meters, ran hard the first half of her race before easing off to finish in 51.69 seconds.

Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt topped the men’s preliminaries in 45.36 seconds. Former Games gold medalist Jeremy Wariner was 13th fastest of 16 qualifiers. He ran 45.84.

The big early marks belonged to decathlon world silver medalist Ashton Eaton.

The hometown favorite, accustomed to the rain in his native Oregon, splashed to the fastest 100 meters ever run in a decathlon, 10.21 seconds, to start the competition.

“Ashton Eaton is a true beast,” tweeted 2004 Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin.

But Eaton was not finished, later leaping 8.23 meters, an unprecedented mark in the long jump leg of decathlon competition.

His third event was more subdued as he finished fifth in the shot put, one of his weaker events.

Still, the indoor heptathlon world record holder streaked to 2,905 points with an overwhelming 149-point lead over world champion Trey Hardee.

Hardee, the shot put winner, was on 2,756 points, while Olympic champion Bryan Clay was third with 2,725.

The top three finishers in their events at the U.S. trials, which continue to July 1, book their tickets to London provided they meet the Olympic qualifying standard.

Editing by Ian Ransom

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