July 16, 2004
Junior Dee Dee Trotter put herself in position to earn a trip to Athens, and freshman Tianna Madison saw a phenomenal season come to a close Thursday night, as the University of Tennessee women continued to draw attention at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.
A native of Decatur, Ga., Trotter overcame a sizeable deficit in the 400-meter semifinals by storming from behind down the home stretch to claim heat one in 50.53 seconds. UCLA's Monique Henderson also finished at 50.53. Trotter's lean at the line, however, resulted in the difference, as the Big Orange standout prevailed 50.525 to 50.530 when the finish tape was read to one one-thousandth-of-a-second.
Trotter, who appeared to be in sixth position with 110 meters remaining, kicked it in to high gear to chart the second-best mark of the evening. Nike's Sanya Richards, who won heat two, covered the distance in 50.34 to take the top reading into Saturday's 5:52 p.m. Eastern Time final, which will be televised by NBC during its 5-6 p.m. ET broadcast.
"I wasn't worried about my start, because I knew I only needed to be in the top four in my heat to advance to the final," Trotter said. "I was too relaxed over the first 200 meters, but that is something I can adjust. I never lost confidence tonight, and I've put myself in a good position for Saturday. I'm focused on top three and making the team."
At stake for Trotter and the other seven competitors, a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team and a trip to Athens, Greece, for the 2004 Olympiad in late August. The Tennessee speedster will attempt to become the first active Lady Volunteer since LaVonna Martin (senior, 100m hurdles, U.S.) in 1988 to make an Olympic Team.
Trotter will also attempt to join Benita Fitzgerald (1980, freshman, 100mH, U.S.), Ilrey Oliver (1984, sophomore, 4x400m
relay-5th/400m, Jamaica) and Patricia Walsh (1984, junior, discus, Ireland) as the only female UT underclassmen to earn Olympic
Team invitations in track & field.
"Dee Dee looks poised to make a run for the Olympic Team," Lady Vol Head Coach J.J. Clark said. "She must execute a little better, but she certainly looked very explosive and determined in her run today. She is truly gifted, and it should be an exciting race in the final on Saturday."
As for Madison, the Elyria, Ohio, product wound up eighth of the 12 Olympic Trials finalists in the long jump. The two-time NCAA All-American and USATF Junior champion charted a leap of 21 feet, three-quarters of an inch, on her fifth attempt. That mark ranks as her second-best competitive performance of a stellar rookie campaign.
In her first three jumps, Madison's best came on try number three. Her measurement of 21-0 ? moved her from ninth to eighth and gained her three more tries in the finals. The freshman's mark of record was sandwiched between fouls on attempts four and six. Earning spots on the Olympic Team were 2000 bronze medalist Marion Jones, who soared to a season-best 23-4, and runner-up Grace Upshaw, who logged a mark of 22-5. Both compete for Nike.
No other jumpers met the Olympic "A" qualifying standard. Therefore, the U.S. will only send two entrants to Athens. "Tianna had a great season, making the finals of the Olympic Trials as a freshman and jumping 21 feet again" Clark said. "We are very proud of her consistency and effort, especially in the latter part of the year."
In addition to Trotter in the 400m final on Saturday, former UT distance ace Sharon Dickie is set to compete in the finals of the 10,000 meters at 9:20 p.m. Mountain on Friday/12:20 a.m. ET Saturday. USA will have the Friday night telecast, running from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET.