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    Olympics: Claye Garners Long Jump Medal

    By: Mark Maloney
    SEC Digital Network

     

    LONDON — With one medal in his pocket, Will Claye already has plans to add another.

     

    Claye, a former Florida standout, was among the current and past Southeastern Conference track and field athletes displaying their talents Saturday at the London Olympic Games.

     

    His medal turned out to be a bronze in the long jump.

     

    Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford captured the gold with a jump of 27 feet, 3 1/4 inches into the Olympic Stadium sand pit.

     

    Mitchell Watt of Australia snared the silver at 26-9 1/4, followed by Claye at 26-7 3/4.

     

    "I wanted the gold medal, but I’m pleased with a bronze medal, and it motivates me more for the triple jump," Claye said. "I’m just getting ready for the triple jump now."

     

    Claye’s second shot at a medal will begin Tuesday with qualifying in the triple jump. Team USA’s other representative in the triple is Claye’s former Florida teammate, Christian Taylor.

     

    "We can definitely go one-two, and I’m hoping that we can go 1-2 for the Gator Nation, for the U.S.A. and for our brotherhood -- me and Christian are like brothers," Claye said.

     

    London has been more than competition for Claye, whose grandmother, as well as his brother James Smith, lives here. Claye has met several British aunts and uncles for the first time.

     

    He put on a good show for the family.

     

    "It was a good day out there," he said, an American flag draped over his shoulders. "I wish I would have jumped a little better, but I’m pleased with it."

     

    Here’s a look at how some other SEC athletes fared Saturday. All represent Team USA unless noted.

     

    * Three SEC women ran in the 100-meter dash finals.


    Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown (Arkansas, 2004) led the way with a bronze-medal finish in 10.81.

     

    Tianna Madison (Tennessee, 2007) placed fourth with a personal best of 10.85.

     

    Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste (LSU, 2008) finished sixth in 10.94.

     

    The gold medal went to Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser in 10.75, with Team USA’s Carmelita Jeter taking silver in 10.78.


    In Saturday’s semifinals, Campbell-Brown clocked 10.89, Madison a 10.92 and Baptiste 11.00.

     

    Eliminated in the semis were Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart (Auburn, 2007) in 11.04 and Trinidad’s Semoy Hackett (LSU, 2012) in 11.26.

     

    * In the men’s 100, Justin Gatlin (Tennessee, 2001) and Tyson Gay (Arkansas, 2004) powered through to Sunday’s semifinals. If they meet that challenge, they’ll run for medals Sunday night.

     

    Gatlin, Gay and U.S. teammate Ryan Bailey all won their first rounds.

     

    Gay was first to go, ripping a 10.08 to top Trinidad’s Richard Thompson (LSU, 2008), who clocked 10.14.

     

    "I felt pretty good," said Gay, who missed the better part of the last year due to a hip injury and surgery. "I didn’t feel any pain. I did what I wanted to do. I gave it about 75 percent I think, at 60-70 meters I let up a little."

     

    Gatlin blazed a 9.97, which would be second-fastest of the day to Bailey’s 9.88.

     

    Third in Gatlin’s heat and also advancing was Trinidad’s Rondel Sorrillo (Kentucky, 2011).

     

    "Coach wanted me to go out there and work the first 30 meters, that’s what I did, dominated the race, and just brought it home," Gatlin said. "It’s all just technique the second half of the race. I think I had kind of a slow start, but I just want to go there and build the race each round."

     

    Arkansas senior Marek Niit of Estonia was eliminated, placing seventh his heat and 41st overall in 10.40.

     

    * Tony McQuay (Florida, 2013) and Grenada’s Kirani James (Alabama, 2011) zipped through the first round of the 400.

     

    James won his heat and placed ninth overall in 45.23.

     

    McQuay, second in his heat, qualified 18th overall in 45.48.

     

    "I could’ve executed a little bit better but I got the job done," McQuay said. "I did my job and made it to the next round."

     

    * Kerron Clement (Florida, 2007) moved into Sunday’s finals of the 400-meter hurdles, placing third in his heat and fifth overall in 48.18.

     

    * In other women’s qualifying, Dee Dee Trotter (Tennessee, 2005) finished second in her semifinal heat and overall in the 400 meters. Trotter crossed the line in 49.87, behind Russia’s Antonina Krivoshapka’s 49.81.

     

    "To God be the glory. I felt great," Trotter said. "Fastest time I’ve had in years — ‘08, when I was in the Olympic semifinals and did not advance to the finals, I had a knee injury and I did not have my best performance at the Olympics.

     

    "So to come here at age 29 and be on the top of my game and make that Olympic final, to God be the glory. I have no other explanation for it. I am so blessed right now."

     

    Canada’s Jenna Martin (Kentucky, 2011) did not advance, finishing in 52.83.

     

    "My body just didn’t respond," said Martin, who ran in lane nine. "It is (a challenge). You’re in no-man’s land. But every lane is 400 meters. You have to go out there and run your own race."

     

    Martin already has thoughts of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

     

    "Oh, it’s definitely ‘four years, I’ll be here,’" Martin said, "the Lord willing."

     

    * Slovenian pole-vaulter Tina Sutej (Arkansas, 2012) cleared 13-11 1/4, not good enough to reach Sunday’s finals.

     

    * Australia’s Genevieve LaCaze (Florida, 2012) was eliminated in the steeplechase despite posting a personal-best 9:37.90.

     

    * Defending Olympic silver-medalist Hyleas Fountain (Georgia, 2004) did not complete the heptathlon due to lower back pain. She withdrew before the final test, 800 meters, but fell out of contention when she fouled on two of her three javelin attempts and scored only 319 points.