By Griffin O’Hara
SOFIA, Bulgaria – The U.S. Athletics Team went into its first day of competition Tuesday loaded with talent – including defending champions – and saw many of its runners advance.
Delvin Furlough, the defending Deaflympic and world champion in the 400m, is on track to repeat after qualifying for Wednesday’s finals with a time of 49.14 seconds.
Despite coming second in his heat, Furlough said he performed exactly as he intended and hopes for a center-lane spot for the finals — affording him a better view of his competitors.
“I feel great, but took it easy for tomorrow,” Furlough said. “I’m ready for another gold.”
Even though Furlough didn’t finish first, coach Larry Smith didn’t have a problem.
“At least, I’m satisfied because he will be in [the] finals,” Smith said.
Teammates Immanuel Neubauer and Taylor Koss also ran in the 400m semifinals but came up short.
Koss started strong and was in the top three of his heat until he slowed in the last few meters and finished in 49.54, just missing the cutoff. Neubauer started too slowly and finished in 51.68 seconds.
Josh Hembrough – whose forte has been the 110m hurdles, with a gold medal and deaf world record in that event – qualified to advance in the 100m sprint with a time of 11.12 seconds. Teammates DeWayne Esper and Paul Littlebear ran 11.23 and 11.42, respectively, and just missed qualifying.
In the women’s 100m, Saria Webb and MaKenzie Hagemen qualified with times of 12.61 and 12.71.
As the day’s races wound down, the team saw one of its own felled by heat and exhaustion.
Distance runner Diana Dick progressed through the 10,000m but, with two laps left to go, crumpled into a heap next to the track.
Medical staff treated her on-site for dehydration and heat exhaustion and took her to a nearby hospital for further treatment.
Dick’s condition had improved as of Tuesday night, coach Steven Fuerst said, and the team hoped she would be released Wednesday morning.
Also Wednesday, U.S. athletes will run in the men’s and women’s 100m semifinals and the men’s 400m finals. Live streaming will be available at www.usdeafsports.org/video/.