LONDON — Defending Olympic champion Dawn Harper, American teammate Lolo Jones, and world champion Sally Pearson cruised in to the semifinals of the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday, then found themselves trying to console a longtime rival.
Jones and Pearson won their respective heats, while Harper eased up near the line and finished second in hers. Pearson had the quickest time in the six heats, covering the distance in 12.57 seconds – the fastest first-round time in Olympic history.
Jamaica’s Brigitte Foster-Hylton (pictured), who had the second-fastest time in the world in women’s hurdles this season, failed to advance. She hit the fifth hurdle in her heat, veered toward the inside lane, got off stride, and never recovered. She threw herself to the ground after crossing the finish line, slapped the track surface, let out a loud scream, started crying and then brushed aside Jones’ attempt to console her.
“The emotions were just outpouring from her,” said Jones, who was in the same heat as Foster-Hylton. “Even if she would have punched me, I totally would have understood.”
Pearson wrapped her arm around Foster-Hylton as she left the track, but that did little to stop the tears.
London was Foster-Hylton’s fourth Olympics, and the best female hurdler in Jamaica was hoping to end up on the podium for the first time. She finished eighth in Sydney and sixth in Beijing. Seeing her Olympic quest end like that was difficult for fellow competitors who expected her to make the final.
Watch: Brigitte-Foster-Hylton At Jamaica’s Olympic Trials:
“It was really hard,” Pearson said. “She’s trained with me for a long time. Rough sport.”
Foster-Hylton’s mistake was a rare one for Jamaican sprinters, who have done little wrong in London. Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake swept the top two spots in the men’s 100-meter final Sunday night. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took gold in the women’s 100, while Veronica Campbell-Brown got bronze.
Even without Foster-Hylton and Britain’s Jessica Ennis – who pulled out of the hurdles after winning gold in the grueling, two-day heptathlon – the field remains strong.
“I know it’s going to come down to a lean,” Harper said. “No one’s going to run away with it. It’s going to be good. I want the competition.”
Britain’s Tiffany Porter and American rival Kellie Wells also advanced. Wells beat Pearson early this season.
“I’m feeling great,” Wells said. “Training has been good, life has been good. I have no stress, no drama, just hit 30. I’m feeling great, so everything’s good.”
In other preliminary events Monday, world-record holder David Rudisha of Kenya and American Nick Symmonds were among those who advanced to the semifinals in the men’s 800. World champion Jenny Simpson of the United States needed a late push to advance in the women’s 1,500. Fellow American Morgan Uceny also advanced.
Simpson decided to avoid the bumping and banging near the front of the pack, but found herself out of position down the stretch.
“Oh my gosh, I hope people wanted to see my miracle kick,” said Simpson, who claimed the sixth and final qualifying spot in her heat. “It was really physical up front and I didn’t want to be involved in this mess. Then with 200 meters to go, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have to make something happen or this is going to be over.’ The last 100 meters, I put my head down and didn’t let up until 5 feet after the line.
“I think that’s the first time in my life I’ve ever leaned at the line.”