Five Gamecocks Advance At US Olympic Trials Thursday
June 28, 2012
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By Miquel Jacobs
EUGENE, Ore. - Three former Gamecocks advanced in the intermediate hurdles and two advanced in the 200-meter dash Thursday night as competition at the US Olympic Trials continued in front of a record crowd of 22,602 after a three-day rest period at Hayward Field in Tracktown USA.
Lashinda Demus and Tiffany Ross-Williams posted two of the top three times in the women's 400-meter hurdles, and Johnny Dutch moves to the semifinal in the men's 400-meter hurdles. Demus had the top time overall at 55.29, and Ross-Williams placed third at 55.76.
"It's a long season for me coming off of injuries, so I felt really good," Demus said. "It's the first round so I know it's no big deal, so it's on to the next one. I hope to run faster tomorrow."
Dutch ran 49.69 in the men's race to take fifth overall in the preliminary round. A 2010 NCAA champion at South Carolina, Dutch will look to make his first Olympic team after missing out by two spots with a fifth place finish at the 2008 US Olympic Trials following his freshman season as a Gamecock.
"I felt great and releaxed coming out. It felt like a clean race. My number six was really sloppy, so I definitely have to work on that, but I'm satisfied. I feel like I'm there. Only time will tell, but you know time doesn't wait on anybody. I have that testimony of getting fifth (at the Olympic Trials) four years ago when I was 19 years old. It was bittersweet because I PR'd. This year I'm coming back with a vengeance and I'm taking each round step by step. Hopefully it will work out for me."
Shalonda Solomon and Natasha Hastings both advanced to the women's 200-meter dash semifinals with times of 22.96 and 23.15, respectively. Solomon (10th) and Hastings (19th) were teammates at South Carolina from 2005 to 2007 before announcing in a join press conference on June 27, 2007 their decisions to pursue professional careers. The decisions have proved lucrative with Hastings earning an Olympic gold medal and Solomon earning a World Championships gold medal in five years' time. They will both compete Friday at 6 p.m. in the semis.
"It was good," Hastings told Flotrack after of her race. "I had to be careful not to go out there and hurt anything. It was a nice clean race into the semi's tomorrow. It took a couple of days to get over (not making the 400-meter dash for Team USA), so thankfully we had a couple of days off in-between. In the past I haven't finished in the top three but I still made it on the relay, but this time I'm not going at all. I just decided I have the 200 left. I'm just going to make the best of the rest of my season and come back harder next year."
Recent alum Shayla Mahan placed 29th at 23.62 in the 200-meter prelims.
Competition continues Friday with reigning world champion Jason Richardson hitting the track for the first time along with Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell in the 110-meter hurdles.