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Originally published August 8, 2012 at 8:34 PM | Page modified August 8, 2012 at 10:37 PM

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Big surge for U.S. in track at London Olympics

The U.S. swept to four golds in a 35-minute span Wednesday at the London Olympics.

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The U.S. swept to four golds in a 35-minute span Wednesday at the London Olympics. Along with two silvers and two bronzes in those four events, that propelled the Americans atop the total medals count ahead of China.

Allyson Felix finally got gold in the women's 200 meters. Then Aries Merritt won the men's 110 hurdles. Brittney Reese then placed first in the women's long jump, and Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings completed the gold-medal burst by winning their third straight beach volleyball title.

Felix beat Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown in the 200, finally winning a much-anticipated gold in her signature event.

"It's been a long road," said Felix, who finished in 21.88. "I never wanted to give up. It's been a long journey — never easy — but you can't lose sight of your dream."

Felix has three world championships on her résumé but had been waiting for an Olympic gold medal. She has an estimated net worth of $8.5 million, but Gatorade, Visa, AT&T, and Nike, among others, signed her to deals more for her good looks, her self-proclaimed "nice-girl" image and her potential than what she had done on track's biggest stage. Now she has the medal to back it up.

The 27-year-old Merritt led a 1-2 finish for the U.S. in the 110 hurdles, winning in 12.92 seconds. World champion Jason Richardson was second in 13.04.

Merritt thought his Olympic moment would come in Beijing in 2008, but his grandmother died before the U.S. trials and he carried the heartbreak with him. Making things worse, he pulled a hamstring and missed months of training. He finished fourth in those Games.

"If you're not emotionally stable, you're not going to (win)," he said.

The Americans, who won a disappointing 23 medals in track in Beijing and had a goal of 30 for London, now have 20 with 18 finals remaining.

"America has the 'Moves Like Jagger' in track and field," Richardson said, in reference to a popular Maroon 5 song. "China has diving, but we definitely have track and field."

Also in track

Brad Walker, a University of Washington graduate and a resident of Mountlake Terrace, advanced to the final round in the men's pole vault. Walker's best height of 5.6 meters tied for third in Wednesday's qualifying rounds. The finals are Friday.

• Former Washington State runner Bernard Lagat finished his qualifying heat in the men's 5,000 meters at 13 minutes, 15.45 seconds and advanced to Saturday's final. The U.S. will have 10,000 silver medalist Galen Rupp, Lagat and Lopez Lomong in the 5,000, the first time since 1932 the U.S. will have three finalists in the event. "My coach told me to be prepared that this race is going to be fast, and indeed it was fast," Lagat said.

• Two medals in the decathlon are a distinct possibility for the U.S. World record holder Ashton Eaton (out of the University of Oregon) leads at the halfway point with 4,661 points, and Trey Hardee is second at 4,441.

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