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Tough day in the field for Olympic track Sun Devils

August 16, 2008

The signature event of the Olympic Games got underway Friday and Saturday with the start of the athletics (track & field) competition which also brought about the debuts of two Sun Devils on the world stage at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Along with Team USA members Jacquelyn Johnson and Trevell Quinley, the Sun Devils also saw two others with ties to the University compete.

Johnson, a seven-time NCAA champion in the multi-events, including four NCAA heptathlon crowns, opened her first Olympiad with the first four events of the heptathlon, closing the day in 22nd place with 3,592 points. Johnson started the competition with a run of 13.22 in the 100m hurdles to earn 1,091 points and stand fifth overall before clearing 1.77m in the high jump for 941 points and slipping to 11th overall.

The shot put is what caused her to fall further down the standings as she had a throw of 11.82m for just 649 points, bringing her to 2,681 points and 22nd place. She finished up the day running 24.74 in the 200m dash to garner 911 points and close out in 22nd place, 346 points out of medal contention.

On Saturday, Johnson opened in the long jump and a leap of 5.88m for 813 points, but in the process, strained her left hamstring and was forced to withdraw from the Games because of the injury. The long jump also was where Quinley competed as he jumped to 7.87m on his third attempt in the preliminary round (after two fouls) to finish 19th overall. The top jumper out of the three Americans in the event, Quinley did not advance to Monday’s final as only the Top 12 move on.

Away from the ‘Bird’s Nest’ (as the Olympic track stadium is called), basketball and softball action continued for former player Shawn Redhage and former head coach Linda Wells, respectively. On Saturday, Redhage and Team Australia secured a big win in pool play with its 95-80 defeat of Russia to move into a tie for third place (with Croatia) in a group where the Top 4 advance to the quarterfinals. Although Redhage did not play in the game, the Aussies moved to 2-2 in group play and will face Lithuania (4-0) in the final pool game today.

Wells, an assistant with the Netherlands, saw the Dutch side drop a pair of games and slip to 0-5 in the Games. On Friday, Venezuela won the game, 8-0, in five innings before Australia took an 8-0 score in five innings on Saturday. The Netherlands have a pair of Games remaining in their stay in Beijing (only the Top 4 advance to the semifinals), including a Sunday game with the United States (5-0) before closing out the competition on Monday against Chinese Taipei (1-4).

Monday also will feature four new names to the list of competitors in the Games with ties to the Sun Devils, including three on the track and one in the pool. Joona Puhakka (Finland) will compete in the men’s 3m springboard dive for the third time in his Games career and will look to improve upon placements of 30th in 2000 and 14th in 2004. On the track, Seth Amoo (Ghana) and Joel Phillip (Grenada) will make their Olympic debuts, competing in the 200m and 400m dash, respectively, while Lewis Banda (Zimbabwe) will run the 400m dash in his second Games.