CARSON, Calif. - Kerron Clement's 47.24-second 400-meter hurdles gold-medal performance at the U.S. track and field championships yesterday was the fastest in the world for five years.
But all it got him was a trip to the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, on Aug. 5-14.
No further guarantees are attached.
Everything will be on the line again in the Finnish capital and James Carter knows it.
The 27-year-old from Mervo and Hampton University ran third (in 48.03) behind Clement and Bershawn Jackson (47.80) to make the U.S. team and will concede nothing to his teammates - or anyone else, including reigning Olympic champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic.
"I knew I could make it, but I had some technical problems today," said Carter, the two-time Olympian who had placed fourth at both Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004. "I over-strided over one of the hurdles, and that threw me off a little the last 200.
"But I kept my composure and just wanted to make the team."
He had just enough left to fight off fourth-place Bennie Brazell, his 2004 Athens Olympic teammate, who ran 48.09.
"I was in good position even though I was having some problems," Carter said. "It wasn't my best time this year [he'd run 47.95 three weeks ago] but good enough. Now, I've got plenty of time to get ready for Helsinki.
"Kerron and Bershawn, they're great. Anybody can see that. But that's got nothing to do with Helsinki. It's still anybody's race."
An unhappy witness to the last few events was Bernard Williams, the other half of Baltimore's 2000 and 2004 Olympic track delegation.
Relegated to the difficult Lane 1, the former Carver High star, who had taken the Olympic 200 silver medal in Athens, struggled in his 200-meter semifinal.
His 20.94 performance was one of the slowest major-meet half-lap times in his career, and all it got him was eighth place in an event that required a 20.60 to make the final.
"That's life, I've got no excuses," Williams said. "I accept what happened, and that's all right."
He will still hit the European circuit in a week.
The championships had a fast finish as women's 200-meter champion Allyson Felix (22.13) and 100-meter hurdles winner Michelle Perry (12.66) joined Clement in posting world-leading times for 2005.
Justin Gatlin added the 200-meter title to the 100 he won Saturday and will run both events in Finland. He is the first man in 20 years to sweep the sprints at the U.S. championships.
Two-time Olympian Hazel Clark showed world-class form in winning the women's 800 (1:59.74), and Khadevis Robinson was an impressive winner (1:45.27) in the men's 400.
Men's shot put titlist Christian Cantwell, whose 71-foot throw enabled him to best Olympians Adam Nelson (70-7 1/4 ) and John Godina (68-10 1/2 ), was a happy winner, too.
"This is going to be my year," said Cantwell, who missed the 2004 Athens team by one place.
"I knew I would have out-thrown those guys last year. Now, I get another chance."