Sanford dazzles in 400m, but misses out on Games

European Athletics: Donald Sanford came a mere nine hundredths of a second from winning an historic medal for Israel.

Donald Sanford 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Donald Sanford 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Donald Sanford came a mere nine hundredths of a second from winning an historic medal for Israel in a sprint event at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki on Friday.
The 25-year-old Los Angeles native, who received citizenship earlier this year after marrying an Israeli, finished the 400-meter final in fourth place in a time of 45.91 seconds, right behind Yannick Fonsat of France.
Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic won in a time of 45.24s, with Marcell Deak-Nagy of Hungary taking the silver (45.52s).
There was double disappointment for Sanford on Friday as he not only missed out on a medal, but also failed to clock a time of 45.30s which he required to book his place at the London Olympics.
Yochai Halevi finished the triple jump final in eighth place on Saturday with a jump of 16.67m, 10 centimeters below his personal best, and the exact same distance he recorded in the qualifiers.
The 32-year-old Jillian Schwartz, who will be Israel’s lone representative in the track and field events at the London Olympics, will want to quickly forget about Saturday’s pole vault final after clearing just 4.10m, well below her season best of 4.52m, to finish in 11th out of 12 jumpers.
Elsewhere, Yohan Blake delivered a shock that will be felt all the way to London by exploding past world record holder Usain Bolt to claim a stunning 100 meters victory at the Jamaican Olympic trials on Friday.
The showdown between triple Olympic champion Bolt and world champion Blake lived up to its billing as the highlight of the four-day meeting as ‘The Beast’ roared home in a dazzling 9.75 seconds, a personal best and fastest in the world this year.
The time also made Blake the fourth fastest man of all time behind Bolt (9.58), American Tyson Gay (9.69) and Asafa Powell (9.72).
“No pressure at all... everything is good. I’m just fortunate,” Blake said after eclipsing his personal best of 9.82.
“I’m the national champion of Jamaica now, I go into the Olympics like this.”
Bolt, who was unable to reel in his training partner, settled for second in 9.86 followed by former world record holder Powell in 9.88.
All three men qualified for the Jamaican Olympic team and will line up against a formidable American contingent at the London Games starting on July 27.
There will be no rest for Bolt and Blake, however, who returned to the track on Saturday looking for a spot in the 200m.
“We are right where we want to be going into London,” Glen Mills, who coaches both Blake and Bolt, told Reuters.
“We have four weeks until the Olympics and we will take it in stride.
We know what to do, so we’ll get there.
“Bolt is a tough cookie and I think he will survive.”
Reuters contributed to this report