June 26, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
It’s the dream that first gets them on the track and starting this weekend a number of past and present Florida State track and field athletes will be taking the first step towards the height of their sport. Olympic Trials for the United States and Jamaica start this weekend with the United Kingdom and Canada to follow.
For three Seminoles the chance to compete at the XXIX Olympics in Beijing, China, is already a reality. Freshman Ngoni Makusha (Mandedza, Zimbabwe) launched his way to the Olympics while winning the NCAA Championships in the long jump. His school and conference record jump of 8.30m/27-2.75 surpassed the Olympic “A” Standard of 8.20m. Countryman and former FSU All-America Brian Dzingai will also be in China to compete in the 200m dash.
The first Seminole who was locked in for the Olympics was rookie Gonzalo Barroilhet (Santiago, Chile). He scored a total of 7,828 points in the decathlon at the Texas Relays in April then bumped his score up with a 7,907 performance to take third during the NCAA Championships.
The longest qualifying process starts this weekend in Eugene, Ore., at the USA Track & Field Trials. Eight-time National Champion Walter Dix (Coral Springs, Fla.) quailed for last year’s World Championships in the 100m and will run his first prelim race on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (PST). The following weekend he’ll compete in the 200m where he has the fifth-fastest time in the world this year (20.10) and his 19.69 at last year’s East Regional is the eighth-best in the world ever.
Also starting competition this weekend is former National Champion and Rhodes Scholar Garrett Johnson. He has the 15th-best shot put throw in the world this year, a 20.94m during the FSU Relays, but the top three throws in the world this year have all come from Americans.
The field events could produce two more American Olympians. The 2006 NCAA champion in the triple jump, Rafeeq Curry has the best jump in the country this year with a leap of 17.22m during the FSU Relays. Pole vault National Champion Lacy Janson is rated fourth coming into the trails with a bar of 4.64m.
Friday will be the first day of competition for long jumper Joe Allen. Joining Dix in the preliminary round of the 100m dash will be junior Michael Ray Garvin (Upper Saddle River, N.J.) and former All-American Greg Bolden. The following Monday, senior Drew Brunson (Snellville, Ga.) will take his shot at the 110m hurdles. Sophomore Charles Clark (Virginia Beach, Va.) will run his first race of the 200m on July 4. Former All-American Alyce Williams takes her first attempts in the triple jump this Friday.
Four athletes will travel back to their native Jamaica to make that’s country’s Olympic Trials. With the fifth-longest throw in the world this year, an “A” standard of 21.45m, shot putter Dorian Scott merely needs to finish in the top three at the trials to make the team. He was 12th at this year’s World Indoor Championships after an 11th-place finish at the 2007 Outdoor Championships.
Also coming into the Jamaican trials with an “A” standard is sprinter Ricardo Chambers. His fastest time of the year is a 45.29 in Carson, Calif., in May while his career-best is a 44.62 at the 2007 Georgia Tech Invitational. The field for the 400m wll be tough in Jamaica as five athletes have run the “B” time.
A pair of Seminoles will take part in the triple jump this weekend. Senior Rayon Taylor (Sanguinetti, Jamaica) has a winded aided jump of 16.53m from his fifth-place effort at the NCAA Championships. In the women’s field, Kim Williams (Kingston, Jamaica) has the top jump in her country this year with a wind-aided 13.83m and best legal jump of 13.65m.
In the last month, two FSU female distance runners have moved closer to making the British Olympic Team. All-American Barbara Parker broke the British national record last month in the steeplechase with an “A” standard of 9:37.08. On her way to winning the 1500m NCAA title, sophomore Hannah England (Oxford, England) ran a time of 4:06.19 to get the “A” standard. With their automatic times, a top two finish at the British trials, scheduled for the middle of July, will assure them a spot in the Olympics with a top three time almost a certainty.
Two former Seminoles are ranked second in Great Britain in their respective events. Tom Lancashire has an “A” cut of 3:35.33 in the 1500m, while Andrew Lemoncello has an 8:28.17 to meet the “B” standard in the steeplechase. Also running the steeplechase will be senior Luke Gunn (Derby, England) after he finished third in the event at the NCAA Championships.
Up North, one current Seminoles and volunteer assistant coach will take their turns next weekend. Brian Chibudu (Harara, Zimbabwe) has dual citizenship in Zimbabwe and Canada. He will compete in the long jump. Volunteer assistant Kevin Sullivan is seeking his third trip to the Olympics after competing at the Sydney and Athens Games. With an “A” standard of 3:35.78 already in the 1500m, all he has to do to make the team is finish in the top four at the trials.
The Summer Olympics begin August 8. Florida State has had at least one competitor in eight of the last nine Olympics, with the exception of 1980 in Moscow. Seminoles have won four medals, including golds by Walter McCoy as a member of the 4x100m relay team and Michelle Finn on the women’s 4x100m in 1992.