EUGENE, Ore. (release) -- The first track & field athlete with Tennessee ties has punched her ticket to London for the Olympic Games. Former Lady Vol Tianna Madison earned a trip by taking second in the women’s 100-meter dash Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field.
Madison, who won an IAAF World Championship in the long jump as a sophomore at UT in 2005 before turning pro, punctuated her rise to world-class status in the sprints with a silver-medal performance at the U.S. Trials. Her time of 10.96 seconds will send her to her initial Olympiad, where she’ll be the first Lady Vol to compete in the 100 meters since Alice Annum did so for Ghana in 1972.
Former Vol Chris Helwick came up short of qualifying for his first Olympics, but his score of 7,744 points produced a career-best finish of fifth at the Olympic Trials after placing seventh in 2008. Helwick’s top effort of day two came in the javelin throw, where he won that event with a fling of 224-3 to accumulate 865 points. He added fifth-place finishes in the discus (143-1, 738 pts.), pole vault (16-0 3/4, 880 pts.) and 1500m (4:33.85, 720 pts.) and was 14th in the 110m hurdles (15.30, 814 pts.).
The Tennessee program also advanced two runners to the finals in their events and another to the semifinal round. All three are former Big Orange standouts.
In the women’s 800-meter semifinals, Phoebe Wright put herself into position to earn an Olympic berth. Running in heat one, the former Lady Vol covered the two laps in 2:00.88 to finish third in that race and move to Monday’s final at 9:50 p.m. Eastern time with the fifth-best clocking of the round.
DeeDee Trotter followed suit in the 400m dash. The former Lady Vol finished second in heat one in 51.23, which ranked fourth-best of the advancers. On Sunday at 7:35 p.m. ET, Trotter will try to make her third U.S. Olympic Team. She was a gold medalist in the 4x400m relay in 2004 and finished fifth in the 400m that season as well.
In the first round of the men’s 100m dash, former Vol Justin Gatlin continued his return to prominence in the sprint world. He easily claimed heat five in 9.90 seconds, his second fastest time of the year, posting the only sub-10-second readout en route to a berth in Sunday’s semifinal round. He’ll race at 5:30 p.m. ET. The final would be later Sunday at 7:48 p.m. ET.