Texas has been shining bright in the rainy Pacific Northwest. At historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., three former and current Longhorns excelled in the track and field Olympic Trials, while one former Texas diver made history at the Olympic diving trials in Federal Way, Wash.
Track star Sanya Richards-Ross, decathlete Trey Hardee, long jumper (and standout Longhorn wide receiver) Marquise Goodwin, and diver Troy Dumais all successfully punched their tickets to London after strong showings last weekend in their events in the Northwest.
The London Games will be the third Olympic appearance for Richards-Ross. Already a gold medalist from the 4x400m event during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she is looking strong going into this summer’s games. She recently took the gold in the individual 400m race at the World Indoor Championship in Istanbul, Turkey. She bested her time of 50.79 in Istanbul over the weekend, though, with a first-place time (and Hayward Field record) of 49.28. Richards-Ross will be one of the favorites for the 400m going into the London Games, and she still has the chance to qualify for two more events.
Hardee, who finished second this weekend to qualify for his second Olympics, has had a tough road back to the top. During the 2011 World Championships, Hardee blew out his elbow during the javelin throw. Only needing a decent time in the 1500m run to win the entire event, he wrapped up his arm, ran the event, and finished with a good enough time to claim the gold. Hardee will be searching for his first Olympic medal this year, but will have some stiff competition for the gold. Fellow American Ashton Eaton finished first in Eugene over the weekend with a world decathlon record of 9,039 points, almost 700 points more than Hardee.
Goodwin, whom many recognize from blazing up and down the gridiron on Saturday afternoons for the Longhorns, will be competing in his first Olympic Games after winning the long jump with a personal best of 27’-4.25”. Deciding to play football after he was originally going to sit out last football season to prepare for the Olympics, it only seems fitting that Goodwin gets the chance to chase his Olympic dream in London.
It didn’t come without a little drama, however. After leading most of the day, Goodwin momentarily slipped into 4th place before he unleashed the longest jump of his career on the day he needed it most. He is the first collegian to win the NCAA and Olympic Trial event in the same year since 1960.
While the speedsters were taking care of business on land, Dumais was successfully qualifying for his 4th Olympic Games. He is the only American diver besides Greg Louganis to qualify for four Olympic games. Though he has never reached the podium at the Olympics, but has his best chance to date this summer in the 3m synchronized dive event with partner Kristian Ipsen. The pair won the same event at the 2011 U.S. National Championships. Dumais will also be participating in the individual 3m dive.
Now that the weekend has ended, the Olympic focus has shifted to Omaha, Neb., where 34 Longhorn men and 21 Longhorn women are competing in the Olympic swimming trials. UT is looking to make a big splash in Omaha and continue the rich tradition of UT swimmers in the Olympics. The first to claim his spot is Brendan Hansen, who already has four Olympic medals and considered retirement until 18 months ago when he began to train again. Hansen has successfully shaken off any rust from the downtime as he took first in the 100m breast stroke. He will compete in the 200m breast stroke Thursday morning.
Former Longhorns Allison Peter and Susana Escobar will also be making the trip to London, representing the U.S. Virgin Islands and Mexico, respectively. Peter will be running in the 100m and 200m dash events, while Escobar will be swimming in the 800m event.
Olympic Trials will be continuing over the next couple of weeks, with swimming trials running until July 2 and more track and field trials to come. Stay tuned to The Alcalde this summer for a special series focused on UT athletes and alumni competing in the Games.
Top: Sanya Richards-Ross runs in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Courtesy Richards-Ross.