Indianapolis -- James Carter makes world-class 400-meter hurdles racing look oh, so easy.
The two-time Olympian and 2004 silver medalist out of Mervo and Hampton University turned his first-round race at the AT&T; USA Track and Field Championships yesterday into a 49.07-second breeze.
So Carter is one-third of the way to claiming a berth on the U.S. team bound for the world championships in Osaka, Japan, in late August. Sixteen 400-meter hurdlers advanced to today's semifinals, where eight will qualify for Sunday's final. The top three in the final will go to Osaka.
The 49.07 was by far the fastest in the 22-man field - Kenneth Ferguson's 49.31 was next best - but Carter downplayed its significance.
"I'm a competitor. I've been in this sport a while. I stopped worrying about times a long time ago," said Carter, 29. "I just wanted to get my nationals started. Now, I've got to keep it rolling."
It was a horrendous day, though, for Bernard Williams, Baltimore's other two-time Olympian. The former Carver Vo-Tech and University of Florida star who earned a 400-meter relay gold in Sydney in 2000 and a 200-meter silver in Athens in 2004, bowed out of the 100-meter dash after he was charged with a false start (after an earlier break charged to the field).
And the season ended for Paul Harris, the fastest 800-meter runner in Naval Academy history. The rising senior from Woodbury, Minn., owns the academy record of 1:47.55 and has broken 1:49 five times, but ran a subpar 1:49.65 for sixth in his first-round trial and failed to advance to the semifinals. It took a 1:48.98 to qualify.
"It's been a long season for me. I felt a little tired before it even started," said Harris, whose 2008 goal will be to make the Olympic Trials. Next on his agenda: Marine Corps summer training camp in Quantico, Va.
It took just seconds for Jason Allen to prove himself the best young long jumper in the United States.
The long jump competition in the junior portion of the championships - staged in coordination with the senior-level championships at Carroll Stadium - was effectively over as soon as Allen, the University of Maryland freshman out of Mount Hebron, raced down the runway and hit the sand.
Officials measured his effort at 7.44 meters, or 24 feet, 4 inches, and no one else in the nine-man event came close to Allen's leap.
Normally, junior national titlists qualify directly for the U.S. team bound for the Pan American junior championships, July 6-8, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but Allen didn't reach the qualifying minimum of 7.50 meters (24-7 1/4 ), so his status is unclear.
Allen is tutored by Terp jumps coach Jason Grimes, one of the top long jumpers in U.S. history - with a 27-8 career best and silver medal at the 1983 world championships.