TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State redshirt junior Kellion Knibb made history Friday at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, becoming the first female throws athlete in Seminole history to secure a berth in the Olympic Games.
Knibb, the NCAA discus runner-up last month, finished third at Jamaica’s National Senior Championships. Having already established an Olympic qualifying mark with her national record throw of 61.44 meters (201-7) at the NCAA meet, a top-three finish was all she needed to punch her ticket to Rio de Janeiro.
“I was very comfortable knowing I already had the standard, knowing that all I needed to do was compete and finish top three,” Knibb said Saturday in a phone interview from her home. “It made it very easy for me; not easy, but easier.
“I was happy that I did what I needed to do. Not that I was surprised, because I know I compete well in terrible circumstances, because we’ve had a few this year. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do, but I finished top-three.”
That was no small feat considering the field was the strongest in Jamaica’s history, with five athletes owning career-best marks in excess of 61 meters. Knibb said that a new throwing surface made the competition even more difficult, preventing the field from performing at the level they had demonstrated throughout the year.
“All of us had to compete under the same circumstances, so I just tried to do the best I could in the situation,” she added.
And that was good enough as her best effort of 57.56 meters (188-10) was nearly four meters clear of fourth place, though it trailed Tarasue Barnett (59.03m) and Shadae Lawrence (58.95).
Fellow Seminole Gleneve Grange finished sixth (52.81), while FSU signee and Jamaican junior national record-holder Shanice Love (50.44) was eighth.
Not only did Knibb make history, her coach – Florida State assistant and two-time Jamaican Olympian – Dorian Scott, did as well. Knibb is his first Olympic qualifier.
In addition to the discus competition, two-time NCAA champion and former Seminole Ricardo Chambers automatically qualified for Saturday’s semifinals in the 400-meter dash. Chambers won his heat in 46.60 to earn a spot in the final 16 of that event.
Kali Davis-White, who competed for two years with the Seminoles before transferring to Tennessee this past year, placed eighth in the 100-meter dash final (11.37).
In addition to Chambers, Seminoles in action today in Jamaica include redshirt junior Emmanuel Onyia in the men’s discus, and Love in the women’s shot put.
Knibb wasn’t the only member of FSU’s 2016 ACC Championship team to have a big day Friday. Competing at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., Der’Renae Freeman qualified for today’s long jump final.
Freeman, with her best mark since her ACC Championship record-tying performance in May, qualified 11th in the field with a leap of 6.47 meters (21-2.75). She will need a top-three finish and an Olympic qualifying standard (6.70m) to join Knibb in Rio.
Former Seminole Michael Cherry advanced to the men’s 400-meter dash semifinals in Eugene, qualifying automatically from his first-round heat in 45.68. His former teammate, James Harris, was not as fortunate as his 46.09 did not make the cut. Cherry will compete in the semifinals today.
Kala Funderburk, the 2015 NCAA 400-meter dash champion for the Noles, did not advance from the first round after posting a time of 54.47.
Saturday’s action in Eugene will include host of former Noles in the 100-meter dash first round, including Walter Dix, Dentarius Locke, Marvin Bracy, Kendal Williams and Trentavis Friday. Former FSU women’s sprinter Candyce McGrone will compete in the 100 as well.