Efraimson, Selmon win bronze at World Youth Championships

Efraimson, Selmon win bronze at World Youth Championships

Provided by USATF

DONETSK, UKRAINE - Alexa Efraimson won bronze in the 1500m and Kenny Selmon finished third in the 400m hurdles during Saturday’s evening session at the IAAF World Youth Championships.

Team USA now owns 12 medals overall, the most won by any country thus far in the championships. In the overall placing table, Team USA sits in first with 96 points, while China and Germany have 90 apiece.

Alexa Efraimson (Camas, Wash.) positioned herself in the lead pack of the women’s 1500m and never quit charging. Efraimson came through the bell lap in fourth place and charged over the final 400m to move into third place. Efraimson held off a late charge by Bobby Clay of Great Britain to win the bronze medal by less than four-tenths of a second in 4:16.07. Anna Maxwell (Felton, Calif.) ran to a personal best time of 4:23.75 to finish 9th.

The men’s 400m hurdles unfolded in dramatic fashion as two of top athletes fell in the last 100m, including the leader Okeen Williams of Jamaica. Team USA’s Kenny Selmon (Mableton, Ga.) seized the opportunity and sprinted for the finish to take the bronze in 51.30. In the women’s finals, Samantha Gonzales (Carrollton, Texas) charged to the finish line after the final hurdle to pass two competitors and finish in 5th place. Gonzalez crossed the line in 59.74.

Reno Tuufuli (Las Vegas, Nev.) added nearly half a meter to his personal best as he sent the discus flying 59.90m/196-6 on his second attempt. Tuufuli came into the final ranked 12th, but with his best ever throw he was able to take seventh.

As the women’s heptathlon concluded, Alexa Harmon-Thomas (Lawrence, Kan.) ran a personal best of 2:21.99 in the 800m to move into 16th place with 5,200 points. Harmon-Thomas balanced a heavy workload at the championships as she competed in the multi-event and yesterday's open high jump finals where she finished 10th.

Keandre Bates (El Paso, Texas) faced a tough field in the men’s triple jump that saw a championship record and eight competitors leaping to personal bests. Bates’ jumps were all over 15 meters, with his best coming on his third attempt in 15.45m/50-8.25.

In the women’s pole vault final, Desiree Freier (Fort Worth, Texas) cleared 3.95m/12-11 to finish 9th. Zoe McKinley (Hurst, Texas) cleared 3.80m/12-5 to finish 11th.

Ariana Washington (Signal Hill, Calif.) ran the fastest time of the day in the women’s 200m semi-finals. Washington crossed the line in 23.19 to win the first heat and advance to the final. In the third heat, Hannah Cunliffe (Federal Way, Wash.) took second in 23.63 to advance as well. On the men’s side, Noah Lyles (Charlotte, N.C.) was unable to advance, as he finished fourth in his semi-final heat in 21.58.

Competing in the IAAF’s youngest age group, the 16- and 17-year-old athletes were selected to represent Team USA after competing in the World Youth Track & Field Trials in Edwardsville, Ill., on June 25-26.

For complete results of the 2013 IAAF World Championships, visit www.IAAF.org. Competition resumes Sunday at 3:00 p.m., local time.

Athlete Quotes

Alexa Efraimson, women’s 1500m, final

“It feels amazing to be on the podium. Even being here is humbling, so to get on the podium is even better. I could feel the other girl behind me on the straight and I was thinking I can’t let her beat me in the last 50 meters. Everything made this such an amazing experience, and I’ll never forget it. Hopefully I’ll be able to do things like this in the future for the professional team.”

Anna Maxwell, women’s 1500m, final

“It was really rough with pushing and stuff, but I guess that is to be expected. I just went out and tried to go when they went and gave it my all. Alexa [Efraimson] was so great. I’m so proud of her. Making it t the final was a goal all the way through, and I kind of wanted redemption for the prelims.”

Kenny Selmon, men’s 400m hurdles, final

“It wasn’t my best, I was a little off my focus coming into the race, and the result showed. I’m glad I performed well enough to get third, but it wasn’t my best. That is not my fastest time, but that’s alright, we’ll get there. It’s been a long season.”

Samantha Gonzales, women’s 400m hurdles, final

“It didn’t go as I planned, but I gave it all to God. It is amazing how we all get to run in such a great meet, and I’m just blessed to be here.”

Alexa Harmon-Thomas, women’s heptathlon

“I’m proud of how I was able to finish. Not all of the events went how I wanted them to go, but I was able to refocus and move on to the next event, so I’m proud of how mentally strong I stayed even though I had some poor events. It was really rough balancing eight events [heptathlon and open high jump], but I knew I could come out here and do it. I gave it my best, and I gave my best effort in everything. This really motivates me now that I see where I stand in the heptathlon. There are some events I am very strong in, but there are other events I can still improve.”

Keandre Bates, men’s triple jump, final

“It went alright. I came into the final doing better than I was doing before. My worst jump in the finals was better than my best jump in prelims. I just took in the whole moment, this is a once in a lifetime type of thing. The atmosphere was crazy and everyone else was getting PR’s, but I just wasn’t feeling it today.”

Reno Tuufuli, men’s discus, final

“It feels great, and I’m glad I PR’d too. I really wanted to hit 63 meters, but I can’t be mad. I made it here, and I made it to finals. I was ranked 12th, and I moved up five spots. I’m great, I’m fantastic right now. This sport is great, I want it to be my life. Seeing how happy people get when they win. I’m going to keep doing this until this is the Olympics and I’m the one taking pictures, I’m the one holding up the mascot, and I’m the one with that gold medal. I’m not going to quit.”

Desiree Freier, women’s pole vault, final

“I think it shows that there is a lot more competition out there than I thought. I mean, it was good, and I don’t really know what was off, but I tried my best. That’s all I could do.”

Zoe McKinley, women’s pole vault, final

“I’m glad I made it to the final of the world championships. It’s a new experience, and that is nice. It motivates me and it makes me want to jump higher as I continue.”

Ariana Washington, women’s 200m, semi-final

“I had a good race from the start. I probably didn’t get out as good as I should have, but I was trying to be careful about the gun. I feel good. I feel a lot more recovered from the 100 than I did yesterday. My mind is getting right, and I’m ready for the final.”

Hannah Cunliffe, women’s 200m, semi-final

“It feels good. I’m really excited. I just kind of ran my race and did what I had to do. I am relieved. It is nice to get past the rounds and know where I stand. It was a good race, and I'm excited for the finals tomorrow.”

Noah Lyles, men’s 200m, semi-final

“Truthfully, I just got out like my coach said, not too hard, but enough to catch the guy in front of me. I tried to slingshot myself off the curve and finish strong. Now, in the relay I’m just looking to get gold. That’s the plan, and that definitely what we are going to stick to. We’ll try to break the record if we can.”

Katie Branham