Stephanie Brown Trafton will be seeking to become the first American woman to win a medal in the discus at the track and field world championships early today in Daegu, South Korea.
Trafton advanced to today’s finals by turning in the sixth-best qualifying throw in the preliminaries Saturday. Trafton had a best of 203 feet as she advanced to a world championship final for the second time.
The 2008 Olympic gold medalist and Arroyo Grande High and Cal Poly graduate is definitely looking for a better effort today than in 2009 when she made the final in her world championship debut but struggled to a 12th-place finish.
No American woman has finished in the top three in the world championships in the discus since the world championships began in 1983.
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Germany’s Nadine Mueller led the women’s discus qualifiers with a throw of 215-0.
Also today, former Cal Poly star Sharon Day will contest the first four events of the women’s heptathlon, and former Mustangs star Ben Bruce will be competing in the preliminaries in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Day participated in the 2009 world championships in Berlin while Bruce will be making his world championship debut today.
Later this week, former Cal Poly star Maggie Vessey will be competing in the women’s 800 meters. Vessey reached the semifinals in the 800 in her world championship debut in 2009.
Elsewhere at the world championships, double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius swept past several able-bodied runners in the 400 meters today to qualify for the semifinals.
It also claimed another historic breakthrough for Paralympic athletes.
Pistorius recovered from his traditional slow start to pounce with power through the final bend and finishing straight to take third place in the final heat of the event and qualify for the next round. His time of 45.39 seconds was the 14th best of all competitors.
Despite his fame, the South African was never destined to win his heat — just getting through had been a cliffhanger in itself.
Running in the tough outside lane, he had to count on a big move in the second half of the race and with 50 meters to go, five runners were still in it for the four automatic semifinal places.
Pistorius, though, was not to be denied. He dipped at the tape for his third-place finish behind Bahamian winner Chris Brown. He immediately slapped hands with runner-up Martyn Rooney, embraced several others and then formally bowed to the South Korean crowd of about 10,000 for its cheers and support.
“He ran the time to get here,” said Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt, who also advanced with the fastest qualifying time. “A great heart. I wish all the best to him.”
The International Association of Athletics Federations had banned the multiple Paralympic gold medalist from able-bodied competition, saying the blades he wears gave him an unfair advantage.
But in 2008, Pistorius was cleared to compete by the Court of Arbitration for Sport — even though he failed to qualify for that year’s Beijing Olympics and the 2009 worlds in Berlin. He did win three gold medals at the Beijing Paralympic Games.
Before Pistorius’ thrilling run, Liu Xiang, Dayron Robles and David Oliver made sure the most compelling final was still on track when all three qualified for the semifinals of the me’s 110 hurdles.