Crawford. Felix win 200 titles at U.S. track championships

EUGENE, Ore. — Shawn Crawford doesn’t have to feel bad about this medal.

The sprinter who was awarded an Olympic medal he felt he didn’t deserve last year won a national title he most certainly does Sunday, blowing away the field in the 200-meter finals at U.S. track and field championships in a wind-aided time of 19.73 seconds.

Allyson Felix joined Crawford as America’s other 200-meter champion. A heavy favorite to win her fifth national title, Felix didn’t disappoint, finishing in 22.02 (also wind-aided) to edge Muna Lee. Marshevet Hooker finished third.

The 31-year-old Crawford blew away newcomer Charles Clark by .27 seconds to win his fourth national title, dating to 2001. So instead of saying goodbye, Crawford is simply gearing up again.

“Before this race, I thought I was done,” he said. “After this, maybe I got a little bit more in me than I thought.”

Wallace Spearmon finished third to nab the final spot on the U.S. team heading to worlds later this summer.

Tyson Gay has already qualified in the 100 and 200 thanks to his world championships in 2007.

While Gay may be America’s biggest sprint star, nobody has a more intriguing story than Crawford. The latest chapter for the 2004 Olympic champion came when he was awarded the silver medal at the Beijing Games after two runners who finished ahead of him were disqualified for running outside their lanes.

He never felt right about that, so he delivered the medal back to Churandy Martina — a burden off Crawford’s back, even though leaders in the sport refused to remove him from the record book.

“In my heart, I felt he deserved it,” Crawford said earlier this week.

Crawford will be among the headliners on a U.S. team that will also include newly crowned national champions Christian Cantwell (shot put), Jenn Stuczynski (pole vault), Bershawn Jackson (400 hurdles) Dawn Harper (100 hurdles) and Lopez Lomong (1,500 meters).

Bernard Lagat and Jeremy Wariner will also be on the team based on their 2007 championships, even though neither won anything this weekend. Lagat ran only one heat of the 800 and Wariner was eliminated in the semifinals of the 200.

Other American stars not as lucky include Lolo Jones, the top-ranked 100-meter hurdler from 2008 who fell in her semifinal heat, and Olympic heptathlon silver medalist Hyleas Fountain, who was leading before withdrawing with a neck injury. She remained at the hospital late Sunday for observation.

Sprinter Walter Dix and decathlete Bryan Clay, who have four Olympic medals between them, were injured earlier in the week and will also miss the trip to Berlin.

Felix ran all three heats of the 200 even though she had earned a wild card spot based on her 2007 world championship. She wanted to use the meet to round into form, and is doing just that. She’ll be going for her third world championship, but has to wait until 2012 to fill in the only gap left on her resume: Felix has two Olympic silver medals, but no gold.

“I felt this was a stepping stone,” Felix said. “I’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Crawford, meanwhile, has taken another step on a long path that included his association with disgraced coach Trevor Graham. While many high-profile athletes associated with Graham have been embroiled in doping controversy, Crawford has steered clear of that and still considers himself friends with his former coach.

It’s just one part of a colorful, not-always-perfect, but mostly successful career that also included a race against a cheetah and a giraffe on a Fox reality show a few years ago.

His career marches on.

“I’m just truly blessed,” Crawford said. “I know I don’t do all the things I should all the time. I’m human.”

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