Hall, Lagat Advance On Opening Day At Track
First-time Olympians and one-time Florida State teammates, Linden Hall and Violah Lagat carried the flag among former Seminoles on Friday, the opening day of track & field competition at Olympic Stadium.
Hall and Lagat advanced to Sunday’s semifinals of the 1500-meter dash from separate heats to open the evening session of competition.
“Both Linden and Violah did a great job,” FSU head coach Bob Braman said. “It’s real easy to let the moment overwhelm you, but they truly kept their focus. I’m really excited about their chances of making the final. It was a great opening event for the Noles.”
Representing Australia and thrust into the first heat, Hall demonstrated the moxie she displayed during her three-time All-American career with the Noles. Patiently tucking into the front of the pack, she grabbed an auto berth into the semis by place fourth in 4:11.75.
Two heats later, Lagat rode the wake of fastest heat of the night, advancing on time (4:08.90) to place eighth in heat three and 13th overall. It was heady performance for the Kenyan, who claimed a pair of All-American honors during her FSU career.
Teammates on the 2011-2012 FSU cross country and track & field teams, they will return to the track Sunday at 8:30 p.m. for the semifinals.
A trio of former Seminole 400-meter standouts – twins Kevin and Jonathan Borlee, and Alonzo Russell – were not as fortunate in the opening rounds, failing to advance.
Kevin Borlee, who along with his brother was making his third Olympic appearance representing Belgium, placed fifth in heat 1 in 45.90. Jonathan Borlee (46.01) was fourth in heat 3 with Alonzo Russell, making his Olympic debut for the Bahamas, placed fifth (46.23), though he was later disqualified.
“I though Alonzo ran as hard as he could,” Braman said. “He actually had the lead with 100 meters to go, but couldn’t hold it.
“The Borlee’s ran almost identical races in difference heats. Both closed really well and just missed an automatic qualifying spot. The good news is that all three will get to run the 4×400 relay later on in the Games.”
FSU’s final representative on the opening night, long jumper Stefan Brits, came up short in his attempt to join a pair of fellow South African teammates in the final. After an opening mark of 7.46 meters, Brits came back with a second-attempt 7.71 (25-3.50) to climb into contention, before a third-attempt foul left him short of the 12-man finals.
“I’m really proud of Stefan,” Braman said. “He wasn’t even sure if his injured leg would allow him to jump and his 7.71 is really good considering he couldn’t even take full approach jumps last week. He’s as good a competitor as anyone we’ve ever had.”
Two-time NCAA champion and nine-time All-American Susan Kuijken kicked off the day for the Seminoles on the track with a 14th-place finish in the fastest women’s 10,000-meter race in track & field history. Competing in just her second race at that distance on the track, the first-time Olympian from the Netherlands finished in 31:32.43, just a half-second off her previous best. Ethiopa’s Ayana Almaz smashed the world record (29:17.45) for the gold as four women dipped below the 30-minute mark.