UT Quintet Makes Olympic Track

The Vols will be represented well in the Olympics.

Four Vols and a Lady Vol will be representing the U.S. in Olympic track and field at Athens, Greece later this summer. All five UT athletes qualified during the Olympic Trials the last two weeks in Sacramento, Calif.

* Former Vol Tim Mack led the way by taking the U.S. pole vault title.

* Justin Gatlin stands as the only athlete with Tennessee ties to qualify in two events -- the 100-meter dash and the 200 -- with a pair of second-place finishes.

* Tom Pappas qualified for the Olympics in the decathlon with a silver finish.

* Anthony Famiglietti made his first Olympic team by taking second in the steeplechase.

* Departing senior Leigh Smith finished in the top three of the javelin, one of the requirements to make the U.S. team. However, the three-time All-America honoree has not yet launched a throw to match the Olympic standard of 268-4. Smith has until Aug. 9 to meet the standard and will likely enter a last chance meet in hopes of surpassing that distance.

* Lady Vol sprinter Dee Dee Trotter raced to a bronze medal 400-meter dash final on Saturday to earn her spot on America¹s 2004 Olympic Team.

A product of Cedar Grove High School in Decatur, Ga., Trotter toppled her own school record with a 50.28 clocking to earn third place and become the first active Lady Vol track & field Olympian since LaVonna Martin did so in the 100-meter hurdles in 1988. Trotter is also the first UT non-senior to earn a spot in the Games since 1984, when Ilrey Oliver (4x400m relay/400m) ran for Jamaica at the end of her sophomore season and Patricia Walsh (discus) threw for Ireland at the conclusion of her junior campaign.

''The race is a blur right now,'' Trotter said. ''My goal was to come out here and make the team, and I did that. I am really looking forward to going to the Olympics.

''I was inspired by a medallion given to me by my mother. It says Œsweet victory¹ on the front, and on the back it says ŒLord, guide my feet while I run this race.' ''

''It¹s definitely an exciting moment to see Dee Dee make her run and enjoy Olympic status,'' UT Head Coach J.J. Clark said. ''I¹m proud of what she¹s done. She¹s a very electrifying athlete.

''Everything has fallen into place, and she¹s developed into one of the nation¹s best quarter milers. She is still young in her event, with this only being her second year in it, but she possesses a lot of God-given ability.''

Gary Kikaya (400-Congo), Karl Jennings (110 hurdles-Canada) and Sean Lambert (100-Grenada) also hope to compete in the Olympics for their homelands. Their status will be updated as information becomes available.

After finishing sixth at this year's USA indoor meet, Mack's comeback captured gold and an Olympics berth after vaulting 19 feet, 4 inches in the finals Sunday, July 11. Mack competes for Nike and trains under Tennessee volunteer assistant coach Jim Bemiller in Knoxville. The pole vault final showcased the often complicated strategical thinking involved in the event.

Mack and 2004 world leader Toby Stevenson engaged in a two-man duel in the pole vault, which ended with three first-time Olympians comprising the U.S. team. Mack led the competition through 18-8 1/4, then passed to 19-0 1/4. When he missed on his first attempt and Stevenson cleared to take the lead, Mack then passed to 19-2 1/4. Mack needed his final attempt to clear 19-2 1/4, while Stevenson made it on his first try, seemingly putting Stevenson in control of the competition. But Mack came through in the clutch and cleared a season-best 19-4 1/4 on his first attempt. Stevenson missed, then passed to 19-6 1/4, at which he missed his final two attempts, delivering the Olympic Trials championship to Mack.

In the qualifying section Friday, July 9, Mack cleared the advancing height of 18-0 on his first jump of the meet to leave no doubt. However, former Vol Lawrence Johnson didn't author the ending he wanted for his comeback bid. Johnson, now competing for adidas, passed at 17-8 before missing all three attempts at 18-0. Johnson earned silver for the U.S. at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the pole vault, the only former Vol field event star to medal.


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