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    Olympics: Hoffa Claims First Career Olympic Medal

    By: Mark Maloney
    SEC Digital Network


    LONDON — Reese Hoffa was a big guy with a big smile Friday night.

    Hoffa became the first Southeastern Conference athlete to earn a track and field medal — a shot-put bronze — in London’s Summer Olympic Games.

    Here’s a recap of how SEC athletes fared in the Olympic Stadium. Unless noted otherwise, they represent Team USA.

    * Hoffa (Georgia, 2001) took bronze with a put of 69 feet, 8 inches. Poland’s Tomasz Majewski won his second straight gold in the event, reaching 71-10, and world-champion David Storl of Germany took silver at 71-8 3/4.

    Hoffa led the morning qualification round at 70-1.

    At 34, he has gold medals from the Pan American Games (2003), World Indoor Championships (2006) and World Outdoors (2007), but had not medaled at an Olympics until Friday.

    He placed seventh at the Beijing Games and 22nd in the 2004 Athens Games.

    Taking bronze "was more relief than anything else," Hoffa said. "I’m very glad. I held on and it was good."

    Hoffa said he enjoyed London more than his previous Olympic experiences. A loud crowd, no language barrier and good food made for a good mood.

    "I am taking more in," he said. "It is my last Olympics and I enjoyed walking in the opening ceremony. I have nothing but compliments for London.

    "London has been great to me, and the medal added another positive memory."

    * Hyleas Fountain (Georgia, 2004) stands fifth after the first day of the heptathlon, but just three points out of third place.

    Fountain, the 2008 silver-medalist has 3,900 points through four of seven events. Third-place Jessica Zelinka of Canada has 3,903, one point ahead of Ukraine’s Lyudmyla Yosypenko.

    Jessica Ennis of Great Britain leads with 4,158, and Lithuania’s Austra Skujyte is second with 3,974.

    The only American women not named Jackie Joyner-Kersee to win an Olympic medal in the event, Fountain opened the day with a 12.70 effort in the 100-meter hurdles, good for 1,170 points and third place. Then came a 6-1 1/4 clearance in the high jump, 39-4 in the shot put and 23.64 for 200 meters.

    The heptathlon will conclude Saturday with the long jump, javelin and 800 meters.

    * SEC women were represented well in the 100-meter quarterfinals.

    Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown (Arkansas, 2004), who won 2004 Olympic gold in the 200 and 4-by-100 relay, as well as a bronze in the 100, qualified third in 10.94.

    Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste (LSU, 2008) was fourth in 10.96.

    Tianna Madison (Tennessee, 2007) took fifth in 10.97.

    "I was amazed by how many people were there and how quiet it got when the starter started speaking," Madison said. "Every time you get in the blocks you just think about ‘execution, execution, execution.’ So in that sense, the race was the same as any other race, and I really just try to execute a little better each time. So tomorrow, I really look forward to a completely, perfectly executed race."

    Also qualifying were Trinidad’s Semoy Hackett (LSU, 2012) in a personal-best 11.04 and Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart (Auburn, 2007) in 11.08. Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie (Georgia, 1998), a two-time Olympic medalist from Bahamas, ran 11.32 and did not advance.

    "I missed a step at the beginning of the race, so I messed up my drive phase," Stewart said. "But I am in the semis, and that’s all that matters."

    Semifinals and finals will be contested Saturday.

    * Dee Dee Trotter (Tennessee, 2005) won her first-round heat of the 400 meters, ranking fifth overall in 50.87.

    Placing third in that heat and also advancing to Saturday’s semifinals was Canada’s Jenna Martin (Kentucky, 2011). Her time of 51.98 tied for 14th overall.

    * Kerron Clement (Florida, 2007) passed his first-round test in the men’s 400 hurdles, running second in his heat and overall with a time of 48.48. Only Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson was faster, 48.33.

    Clement, 26, won Olympic silver in 2008 and is a two-time World Outdoor champion (2007, ‘09). He also won a pair of hurdles titles for the Gators, as well as an indoor 400-meter title without the barriers.

    * Kibwe Johnson, who began his collegiate career at Georgia and finished at Ashland (Ohio), set a personal best last year at 266-9 — the best by an American since 2000.

    Friday, he qualified fifth for Sunday’s hammer throw finals with a distance of 253-2.

    Croatia’s Andras Haklits (Georgia, 2002) did not qualify for the hammer finals, placing 30th at 231-7 1/2.

    Haklits, eighth, at the Beijing Games, was competing in the Summer Olympic Games for the fourth time. He also was a member of Croatia’s four-man bobsled team at the 2010 Winter Olympics, placing 20th.

    * Will Claye (Florida, 2012) qualified eighth for Saturday’s finals in the long jump with a leap of 26-2 3/4.

    Claye, 21, also will compete in the triple jump here, an event in which he placed third at last year’s World Championships.

    Jamaica’s Damar Forbes (LSU, 2013) did not advance in the long jump, finishing 19th at 25-6 3/4.

    Team USA’s Marquise Goodwin and Brazil’s Maura da Silva tied for the best mark, 26-7 1/4.