South Carolina Olympic Round-Up - Day 17
Aug. 22, 2008
BEIJING - What was a disappointing day for the United States track and field program was also a disappointment for former South Carolina student-athletes as the medal hopes for four former Gamecocks ended Thursday at the Olympic Games. However, Natasha Hastings and the women's mile relay are still alive after running the fastest time in Friday morning's preliminary round at 3:22.45.
"I felt good," Hastings said. "It was a pretty good race. We were pretty even with Jamaica. The goal was to get around the track and get into tomorrow's final. Hopefully we can just get out there tomorrow and be focused. We want to run a good, clean race."
Chelsea Hammond narrowly missed medaling in her first Olympic appearance after placing fourth in the women's long jump final. Hammond, a four-time All-American at South Carolina, had one of the best increases in the entire field from her preliminary round mark. Representing Jamaica, Hammond jumped a 6.79m (22-3 ½), besting her preliminary round distance of 6.60m (21-8) by seven and one-half inches.
In the men's and women's 4x100-meter relays, the road to a gold medal ended for former Gamecocks Leroy Dixon, Rodney Martin and Mechelle Lewis. Both American teams were disqualified in the preliminary round after both misconnected on the final handoffs and dropped the baton in their respective races.
On the men's side, Tyson Gay and Darvis Patton misconnected on the final handoff while Tori Edwards and Lauryn Williams misconnected on the final handoff on the women's side. The disqualifications solidify this year as the first time in Summer Games history that the United States will not medal in a sprint event. The Americans were shutout in the 100s, 200s and the 400-meter relays.
"We're really disappointed, but we'll have to move forward from here," Lewis said. "We work on our relays at least three times a week since we've been in training camp. I don't really know what happened. Sometimes you just have bad passes. When you're in a situation where it's raining and the adrenaline is flowing, things can happen. We don't really know what happened, but we're going to go back and review the film and see how we can improve for the next time."
Hastings and the mile relay will run in the Olympic final Saturday at 8:40 a.m. ET. The race will air on NBC between 7:30 p.m. and midnight.
"This is my first time on the track in the two-and-a-half weeks I've been here," Hastings said. "We had China in our heat, so we had a little extra cheering even though it wasn't really for us. It was a great feeling. I've never been to a track meet of this magnitude, so it's been an awesome experience for me."