Sept. 2, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It took Zimbabwe’s Ngoni Makusha just one jump in Friday’s long jump finals to earn a spot on the podium at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Koriea.
Makusha, who authored one of the finest sprint/jump seasons in NCAA history in 2011 for Florida State, posted an opening jump of 8.29 meters (27-2). Though he was unable to better that mark on his subsequent four attempts, Makusha came away with the bronze medal.
It was a redeeming turn of events for the affable Seminole, who won two individual events and anchored FSU’s winning 4×100 relay team in the team’s runner-up performance at the NCAA Championships three months ago. Despite boasting one of the top times in the world in the 100 meters this season, Makusha was eliminated in the World Championship semifinal round.
“I would say he’s happy with a bronze, but competitive nature being what it is, feels like he could have done better,” said veteran FSU jumps coach Dennis Nobles, who was on hand as Makusha’s coach. “Any real competitor would probably feel the same.”
Veteran US jumper Dwight Phillips grabbed the gold with a season-best leap of 8.45, followed by Australia’s Mitchell Watt (8.33).
Another former Seminole sprint great, Walter Dix, took another step toward adding to his World Championships medal collection. After scoring a silver medal in the 100-meter dash earlier in the week, Dix powered his way through a pair of rounds in the 200 to earn a spot in Saturday’s finals.
Dix won his preliminary heat in 20.42, second only to world record holder Usain Bolt’s 20.30, through the seven qualifying rounds. The South Florida native and reigning US champion improved on that time in the third heat of the semifinals, winning in 20.37. It was the fourth-fastest time of the semifinal rounds, where France’s Christophe Lemaitre opened eyes with his first heat win in a blistering season-best 20.17, pulling away from Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade (20.32). Bolt won the second heat in 20.31.
With Bolt seeking redemption after a false start disqualified him in the 100 final, Saturday’s 200 final should be a shootout with all of the attention focused on the center of the track. Dix will work the curve out of lane 4 with Bolt on his left and Ashmeade to his immediate right. Lemaitre will race out of lane 6.
The only other former `Noles in action Friday were the Borlee brothers – Jonathan and Kevin – who contributed to Belgium’s fifth-place finish in the 4×400 meter finals in a season-best time of 3:00.41. There was very little margin for error in Friday’s final even, which the US won in 2:59.31. Germany finished eighth in 3:01.37.
Saturday will also mark the return to the track of Ciaran O’Lionaird, whose remarkable performance through two qualifying rounds has landed him a place in the 12-man, 1,500-meter finals. Representing Ireland, O’Lionard has defied the odds in his first World Championships appearance.