Canada's Connaughton reaches semifinals in 200m
Jared Connaughton, middle, duels Brendan Christian, left, and Aaron Armstrong. (William West/Getty Images)
Charlottetown's Jared Connaughton sounded supremely confident following Monday's qualifying for the semifinals of the men's 200 metres at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
"It was easy, Connaughton told CBC Sports. "I was relaxed and in control and that is what the plan was."
Connaughton, 23, finished third in the eighth and final heat in a time of 20.60 seconds.
The top three finishers in each heat advanced, as did the next three fastest finishers.
Connaughton held second place behind Aaron Armstrong of Trinidad and Tobago, but he eased up at the finish line and slipped to third behind Armstrong (20.57) and Antigua's Brendan Christian (20.58).
"It is the biggest atmosphere I have been in … I let the crowd really energize me and bring me home," Connaughton said. "I ran that about 75 per cent."
Finnish hopeful Visa Hongisto made a late lunge to try to catch Connaughton, but he settled for fourth in 20.62.
Connaughton squeaks into 200 semifinal
P.E.I.'s Jared Connaughton will run in the semifinal of the 200-metre race in Beijing, the slowest to make it through the second round of heats.
After placing third in his preliminary race Monday morning with a time of 20.60, Connaughton had to make the top 16 during a second round of heats later in the day. Connaughton had the 16th-fastest time in that round, at 20.45 seconds.
Running in the first heat and placing fourth, Connaughton had to wait for the other three heats to go before knowing if he would advance.
"I was pretty confident that that first heat that I was in was going to be the fastest anyway, so I'm happy I'm through," he told CBC News after the race. Making it to the final will take an extra-special run, he added.
"A personal best, for sure. I've run 20.34, .35, .36 this year. I think if I can go into 20.30, I have a shot at getting through," he said.
Connaughton runs in the semifinals Tuesday night, at 10:25 a.m. Tuesday AT. The top eight will advance to the final Wednesday night.
Confidence pays off for Connaughton
Canwest News Service
Connaughton began Monday by finished third in a heat with a time of 20.60 seconds. In a subsequent quarter-final, his time of 20.45 was good enough for him to advance to the third round.
Before the quarter-final, Connaughton received some encouragement from former Olympic 100-metre champion Donovan Bailey.
“Donovan and I were over there chatting,’’ Connaughton said. “He said, ‘I’m a pretty confident guy. I think you’ll get through.’ When he said that, I was pretty convinced I’d get through. Now I’m off to the semifinal and hopefully the final the day after.’’
Connaughton advanced despite running in the outside lane, which is not necessarily an advantageous placement.
“It’s the Olympic Games. I’m blessed to be here,’’ he said. “If they had made me run in the first row of the crowd, I would have done that, too.’’
Preparing for his Olympic debut, Connaughton was so excited that he could hardly sleep.
“I had to get up at six (in the morning) and I woke up at 3:30,’’ he said. “It was one of those things where I was just really anxious to go. I’ve got two races under my belt at the Olympic Games and a third tomorrow, and hopefully a fourth the day after. I’m pumped to be here and I’m really excited to represent my family, myself and my country.’’
Rob Vanstone is in Beijing as part of the Canwest News Service Olympic Team
At a glance
Competitor: Jared Connaughton
Event: Track and field
Class: Men’s 200-metre
Event time: Semifinal begins at 9:25 p.m. Tuesday (Beijing), 9:25 a.m. ET Tuesday (Canada)
Born: July 20, 1985, Charlottetown,P.E.I.
Hometown: New Haven, P.E.I.
Height: Five foot nine
Weight: 170 pounds
Connaughton advances to 200 m semifinal
The 23-year-old narrowly advanced to the semifinal in the men's 200 metre at the Beijing Olympics.
Connaughton placed third in his preliminary race Monday to advance to the second round of heats with a time of 20.60 seconds. In the second round later in the day, the sprinter placed fifth, one spot out of contention.
Connaughton had to wait for three other heats to finish before finding out that he would advance.
He ended up with the 16th fastest time - 20.45 seconds -- just fast enough to squeak into the semifinal.
Brian Dzingai of Zimbabwe was the fastest runner in the men's 200 m event at the National Stadium, finishing with a time of 20.23 seconds
Connaughton runs in the semifinals Tuesday at 10:25 a.m. AT. The top eight will advance to Wednesday's final. Both will be broadcast live on CBC television and live online at cbcsports.ca.
Connaughton, who trains at the University of Texas, Arlington, is also a member of Canada's 4x100 metre relay team, which begins competing Thursday.
His personal best in the 200 m is 20.34 seconds while Dzingai's best is 20.12.
Michael Johnson of the United States currently holds the world and Olympic records in the 200 m, a time of 19.32 seconds recorded in Atlanta in 1996.
This is Connaughton's first Olympic games.
He won silver at the 2007 Pan American Games in the 4x100 m relay, bronze in the 2007 Canadian Championships and silver at the 2006 Canadian Championships.