After 11/2 weeks of competition at their respective national championships, 10 former and current members of the LSU track and field program have qualified to represent their countries in the Olympic Games in London from Aug. 3-12.
LSU, which sent an NCAA-leading 12 men and women to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, will be represented by at least five athletes for the seventh straight Olympiad — a streak that began back in 1988 in Seoul, South Korea.
Topping the list are sprinter Richard Thompson, who claimed two silver medals for his native Trinidad and Tobago in Beijing, and American hurdler Lolo Jones, who was on her way to a gold in the 100-meter hurdles until she hit the next-to-last hurdle and placed seventh.
Other current and former Tigers and Lady Tigers who will be making the trip to London are four athletes from Jamaica and three from Trinidad & Tobago.
Representing Jamaica will be Nickiesha Wilson (400 hurdles), Damar Forbes (long jump), Samantha Henry-Robinson (4x100 relay) and Riker Hylton (4x400 relay).
Joining Thompson, who won silver medals in the 100 meters and 4x100 relay at the Beijing Games, in the colors of Trinidad and Tobago are Semoy Hackett (100, 200, 4x100 relay), Kelly Ann Baptiste (100, 4x100) and Ade Alleyne-Forte (4x400 relay).
Rounding out the list is Grenada’s Neisha Bernard-Thomas (800).
While LSU’s list includes just one American in Jones, current Lady Tiger Kimberlyn Duncan will have a shot at making the Olympics as well when she takes part in a Team USA relay camp later this month.
Duncan, who completed her junior season last month by leading the LSU women to the NCAA title, finished fourth in the 200 meters final at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Saturday in Eugene, Ore.
While she had to finish in the top three to earn an automatic spot on the U.S. team, Duncan was one of 10 sprinters selected to the 4x100-meter relay pool that will compete for six berths in the Olympics.
LSU coach Dennis Shaver said Duncan, who has anchored the Lady Tigers’ winning 4x100 relay teams at the past two NCAA Championships, will compete in the relay camp beginning July 16 in Monaco.
The camp concludes on July 20 with an international meet in which the USA will run two relay teams before the decision is made the next day on which six sprinters earn trips to London.
Shaver said the decision will be made by Team USA women’s head coach Amy Deem, women’s sprints coach Tonya Buford Bailey and relays coordinator Jon Drummond.
No matter what happens with Duncan, LSU will be well-represented at the Olympics once again.
“Obviously, we’re extremely proud of not just the numbers, but the people we have that will be in London,” said Shaver. “It’s one of those years where we have some veterans who have been there before — like Lolo and Richard Thompson and Kelly Ann Baptiste.
“But we’ve also got a nice solid group of younger people going there, too, to experience their first Olympic Games. It’s especially good for the collegians to get a taste of it because it’ll benefit them four years from now.”
While she hasn’t earned a spot yet, Shaver was extremely proud of how Duncan, who won’t turn 21 until Aug. 2 — the day before track and field starts in London — competed against some seasoned veterans in the 200.
Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter and Sanya Richards-Ross, who took the three spots on the U.S. team, are all veterans of international competition.
Richards-Ross took third in 22.22 seconds, just ahead of Duncan’s 22.34.
“When you look at the people who were ahead of Kim in that event, they were six or more years older than she is,” Shaver said.
“So it was a great tribute to her to just be in the hunt. That was the toughest event at the trials to make the U.S. team on the women’s side.”
In addition to the Olympic Games, the LSU program will be represented at two other big competitions in the next couple of weeks.
The IAAF World Junior Championships will be held July 10-15 in Barcelona, Spain, with three LSU athletes who just completed their freshman seasons on the USA team.
Aaron Ernest will be in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay; Rodney Brown will compete in the discus; and Quincy Downing is part of the 4x400 relay pool.
Also, LSU assistant coach Derek Yush will serve as the U.S. throws coach in the NACAC Under-23 Championships to be held Friday through Sunday in Mexico City. Athletes from North America, Central American and the Caribbean islands will compete in the meet.
Representing LSU on the U.S. team are Duncan, Rebecca Alexander, Cassandra Tate, Charlene Lipsey and Barrett Nugent.