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Camacho-Quinn keeps Harrison, US out of win column at track

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, of Puerto Rico celebrates after winning the gold in the women's...
Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, of Puerto Rico celebrates after winning the gold in the women's 100-meters hurdles final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.(Source: Kai Pfaffenbach/Pool Photo via AP)
Published: Aug. 1, 2021 at 10:12 PM AKDT
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TOKYO (AP) - Considering where she was for the last Olympics — sitting at home — 100-meter hurdler Keni Harrison couldn’t complain about the silver medal she won this time around. Still, in this event, Americans are used to gold.

Maybe they were looking in the wrong place.

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who grew up in South Carolina, went to college at Kentucky and trains in Florida, is taking the hurdles gold to her mother’s native Puerto Rico after an upset Monday that kept the Americans out of the win column as Olympic track reached Day 4.

“This was what I wanted for this year. I wanted to be a gold medalist,” Camacho-Quinn said.

She powered ahead of Harrison early and finished in 12.37 seconds for a .15 second win — a blowout in such a short race. Megan Tapper of Jamaica finished third.

Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory that competes under its own flag at the Olympics, now has one more track gold medal than the deepest team at the Games, which won 13 golds five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

Camacho-Quinn’s best time coming into the Olympics was 12.38. She ran an Olympic-record 12.26 in the semifinals that ranks fourth on the all-time list.

Some of this improvement can be credited to coach John Coghlan, who started working with Camacho-Quinn last December, studied the film and saw her potential.

“I was like, ‘If she can fix X, Y and Z, she can run really fast,’” Coghlan said.

Now, she is an Olympic champion.

Harrison has silver, and still holds the world record of 12.2.

The buildup to that mark set in 2016 played out awkwardly.

In what is generally considered the most stacked event on the toughest team to make, Harrison finished sixth at Olympic trials and was denied the trip to Rio. A few weeks later, she traveled to London and set the world record, then returned home to watch the Americans sweep the podium.

Given that, Harrison said the silver felt like a win.

“To miss out in Rio and then come to my first Olympics and get a silver medal — of course, everyone wants the gold, but I got myself back out here on this world stage and I’m getting better and better,” she said.

None of the Americans from the 2016 sweep — Brianna Rollins-McNeal, Nia Ali or Kristi Castlin — was in Tokyo, but this still felt like an event for the U.S. to finally break its string of no gold medals on the track in Japan.

The Americans had won three of the last four women’s 100-meter hurdles at the Games, including the 2008 shocker by Dawn Harper after the buildup had been pointed toward Lolo Jones.

That spoke to the depth of American hurdles.

Turns out, Puerto Rico is tapping into that talent, as well.

Camacho-Quinn, whose brother, Robert, plays in the NFL, said her college coaches told her to head to the U.S. Olympic trials back in 2016 — not so much to win a spot on the team, but just to see what it was like to compete against professionals.

Then she learned she could qualify to run for Puerto Rico, the island territory with which she has deep roots because of her mom’s side of the family.

“I didn’t understand track like that,” she said. “I just went out there and ran.”

All the way to the Puerto Rican team. And so, a star was born.

She was running in Rio in 2016 when she clipped the ninth hurdle in the semifinal to send her sprawling to the deck. She tries not to think about that.

“Somebody’s always, ‘Oh, I’m sorry for what happened,’” she said. “I’m like, ‘I need y’all to let that go.’”

She moved on, and now it looks as though the U.S. team needs to do some recalibrating, as well. Though there is plenty of time left — only 10 of the 48 events were complete after Monday morning’s session — a team that opens every Olympics with grand hopes has no gold medals.

One hopeful, Ju’Vaughn Harrison, finished fifth in the long jump hours after leaving the track Sunday night with a seventh-place finish in high jump.

The long jump gold went to Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece, with two banged-up Cuban jumpers, Juan Miguel Echevarria and Maykel Masso, taking silver and bronze even after combining to pass on five of their 12 attempts.

Earlier in the week, the U.S. got shut out of the women’s 100. It took silver (Fred Kerley) in the men’s 100 – a final that Trayvon Bromell didn’t even qualify for after coming in favored for the gold. It took bronze in the new mixed 4x400 after choosing to sit Allyson Felix in an event she helped the U.S. dominate at world championships two years ago.

The U.S. had no clear favorites in Monday night’s session, where there were finals in the men’s steeplechase and the women’s discus and 5,000 meters.

That 5,000-meter race featured Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands. Hassan ran in a 1,500-meter heat in the morning session and fell. She scooped herself back up to not only finish the race, but to win it outright.

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