Aug. 24, 2011
By Bob Thomas, Seminoles.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Ngoni Makusha and Maurice Mitchell, who paced Florida State to a runner-up finish at the 2011 NCAA Track & Field Championships, headline a contingent of 12 athletes with Seminole ties participating in the IAAF World Championships at Daegu, Korea.
The nine-day event, which brings together the world’s top track & field athletes from 202 countries, is the most prestigious non-Olympic meet in the world.
Coming off NCAA individual titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, respectively, Makusha and Mitchell, are Seminoles’ most recent sprint stars qualified for the World Championships. They will be joined by double-bronze Olympic medalist and current US champion Walter Dix, who helped FSU claim the 2006 and 2008 NCAA championships and will represent the United States in both the 100 and 200. Dix and Mitchell could be teammates on the 4×100-meter relay.
“Walt, from what I understand, is on top of his game,” said FSU track & field coach Bob Braman. “He’s going to have something to say about the 100 and 200. We’re really excited for Maurice, who is going to get that World Championship opportunity. It’s like anything else in competition. If you go to the World Championships, how easy does the NCAA feel? … It’s exciting to have that. His representation says a lot for our program; says a lot to potential recruits.”
Mitchell, who was a late addition to the team, is the only athlete with Florida State ties who will be returning to campus this fall with a year of eligibility remaining.
Another pair of former `Noles, Belgium twins Kevin and Jonathan Borlee, will represent their country in both the 400-meter dash and the 4×400 relay.
Makusha, who turned professional after his record-setting NCAA meet and will compete for Zimbabwe, will be a threat to medal in both the 100 and the long jump, which he also won at nationals for the Seminoles. He enters the competition with the second-best leap in the world this year.
Despite a limited summer racing schedule in Europe, Braman believes Makusha could make quite a splash in Daegu.
“He’s run 10.10 a couple of times,” Braman said. “He’s got enough (training) in where he can go do his thing. If people think he can’t, let’s go look at what he did before his 9.89 [NCAA 100-meter record].
“And, oh, by the way, he was close to a medal in the ’08 Olympic Games in the long jump and he’s got a shot to medal again in the long jump. We could see that 28-foot jump where he could join Kareem Streete-Thompson and Carl Lewis as the only humans over 28-feet and under 10 seconds [in the 100].”
FSU will have a presence beyond the sprints as well.
Four-time NCAA champion and eleven-time All-American Kimberly Williams, who just completed her final season of eligibility for the Seminoles, will represent Jamaica in one of the most competitive women’s events – the triple jump.
“Kimmie is making some progress,” said Braman, noting that Williams battled injury through the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships. “She’s healthy now. We could see that 46-, 47-foot triple jump.”
One of the most seasoned former Seminoles competing in her first outdoor World Championships is pole vaulter Lacy Janson, who completed her eligibility at FSU in 2006. Janson was third at the US National Championship and, like Williams, will be facing a deep field of competitors.
Shot putter Dorian Scott is no stranger to international competition. A member of FSU’s first NCAA championship team, Scott competed in the Beijing Olympic Games and is making his third outdoor World Championships appearance representing Jamaica.
Not to be overlooked is a quartet of former Seminole distance standouts, including a trio representing Great Britain. Andrew Lemoncello will make his first World Championships appearance in the marathon after posting a qualifying effort of 2:13.40.
Great Britain natives and former Seminole teammates Hannah England (1500) and Barbara Parker (3000 steeplechase) look to cap outstanding summers on the European circuit in their respective specialties.
While all of the present and former `Noles have performed at a high level, few have excelled this summer like Ireland’s Ciaran O’Lionaird. Since picking himself up from a disastrous performance at the NCAA Championships, O’Lionaird enters the World Championships as something of a darkhorse in the 1500 meters. His 3:34.46 last month was good enough to meet the Olympic A standard and earn a berth as his country’s lone representative in the event.
“He could be [the X-factor],” Braman said of O’Lionaird. “If the Kenyans get together and decide to pound the pace, guess who it’s not going to hurt? It’s not going to hurt him. He can make a final.”
Braman said Florida State has sent larger contingents to the World Championships before, but added that this group has an awful lot of potential to medal.
“It’s still a good sized group and a very powerful group that can be successful,” Braman said. “They’ll be in Florida State gear at some point warming up and training. They’ll all wear their countries’ colors. That’s a big deal. We’re excited about that.”
Universal Sports will carry television coverage of the World Championships and also offer live, online coverage. Fans can also access live coverage of the nine-day event at www.IAAF.org or follow the progress of the Florida State contingent at www.Seminole.com.
Competition schedule for FSU connections
M 400 (semifinals)
M 1500 (heats) – Ciaran O’Lionaird (IRE)
W Triple Jump (qualifying) – Kimberly Williams (JAM)
W Pole Valut (finals)
W 1500 (semifinals)
W 3000 Steeplechase (finals)
M 400 (finals)
M 1500 (finals)
M 200 (finals)