Protest grants Bennett-Martin 800 final berth at Olympic trials

June 29, 2008

EUGENE, Ore. -- Four runners, including former Lady Vol standout Kameisha Bennett-Martin, went down during heat one of the 800-meter semifinals Saturday evening at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field. That fall could have ended the ex-UT runner’s dream of making the 2008 Olympiad in Beijing, China. Instead, Bennett-Martin and the three others have been granted a second chance and will run in the final on Monday night.

A little over 200 meters into the race, Bennett-Martin, Nicole Teter, LaTavia Thomas and Becky Horn all ended up falling down on the track. That devastating event prevented any of them from advancing to Monday’s final. Bennett-Martin, who said someone hit her with an elbow, setting into motion the fall and ensuing pile-up, wound up eighth in her heat and 16th overall. A protest to the head official, though, was heard and accepted, and all four runners were moved on to the championship race, meaning there will be 12 vying for the three 800m spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.

UT Head Coach J.J. Clark’s sister, Hazel Clark-Riley, avoided any such drama, finishing second in heat two and second fastest of the finals qualifiers in 2:02.14. On Monday, she will run with the goal of making her third straight Olympic appearance. If she accomplishes that feat, she will join Olympic women’s middle distance coach J.J. Clark on the U.S. squad.

Late Friday night on the West Coast (early Saturday morning on the East Coast), former Lady Vol Sharon Dickie-Thompson competed in her second career Olympic Trials 10,000-meter race. After finishing 11th in 2004, Dickie-Thompson this time reported in 20th in a clocking of 34 minutes, 10.46 seconds.

Sunday’s only event involving an athlete with Lady Vol ties features 2004 U.S. Olympian Dee Dee Trotter. A gold medalist with the 4x400m relay and a fifth-place finisher in the 400 meters that year in Athens, Greece, Trotter will run in the quarterfinal round at 6 p.m. ET.


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