HELSINKI, Finland - Joel Brown nearly fell flat on his face leaning into the finish line.
But desperate moments required desperate maneuvers and, for Brown, the former Woodlawn High star, one of those moments came in the final strides of his 110-meter high hurdles semifinal in the 10th world championships of track and field last night at Olympic Stadium.
"I knew it was going to be close. I knew I had to do something," he said after grabbing the eighth and last spot in tonight's final with a 13.43-second clocking.
By just 1/100th of a second, Brown gained the final along with U.S. teammates Allen Johnson, Terrence Trammell and Dominique Arnold, and the three will bid to claim all the medals and - maybe, just maybe - replicate the 1-2-3-4 sweep posted by American 200-meter runners last night.
Justin Gatlin, who earlier won the 100 meters, added the 200 gold.
"I did a lot of things wrong," Brown said. "I hit the first three hurdles. I had to force myself back into the race."
The first three places in his semifinal went to Johnson, the Burke, Va., product bidding for his fifth gold in the worlds, who won in 13.23; Jamaica's Maurice Wignall (13.24), and Brazil's Mateus Facho Inocencio (13.39). Brown nosed out Germany's Thomas Blaschek (13.45).
Trammell (13.31) and France's Ladji Doucore (13.35) had won the other semifinal sections.
China's Dongpeng Shi, who finished in 13.44 in the first race (behind Doucoure and Arnold) had ranked as the second and last time-based qualifier until Brown came along and beat him out by 1/100th of a second.
"I need to put some things together real quick," Brown said. "I had some mental lapses I need to correct.
"If I can get things straightened out, I think I can be up there with Allen [Johnson] and the other guys in the final," said Brown, 25, an Ohio State alumnus who serves as an assistant track coach at his alma mater.
Brown won the U.S. national indoor 60-meter hurdles crown last March in Boston and had posted a career-best 13.22 in the 110-meter event on the European circuit before heading to Helsinki.
"Anything can happen now," said Brown, smiling. "We all start over. That's all the chance I need."