EUGENE, Ore. – Former Lady Razorbacks April Steiner Bennett and Christin Wurth-Thomas secured their trips to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing on Sunday, the final day of the U.S. Olympic Trials at Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Steiner Bennett earned a silver finish in the pole vault final. She cleared 15-1 on her second attempt to earn her spot on Team USA in Beijing. This season marks the first that she will compete at the Olympic Games.
"I really wanted Stacy (Dragila) to make the team," Steiner Bennett said. "She’s my hero and role model. I got to train with her for a couple years and she taught me so much about the circuit that I would not have known otherwise. I always want to PR when I come into a meet, so making that next bar would have been great. I had to make 15-1 or I didn’t make the team. It was a little warm and I tried to stay in the shade but the conditions were optimal for me. I never gave up, even though I’ve encountered lots of obstacles. Getting through life is tough and it’s very similar to the pole vault, but my family is very supportive of me."
"(Seeing former Lady’Backs in Beijing) is definitely going to make a difference in the Olympic experience for me," Steiner Bennett said. "I’ve never made a world championships or Olympic team. Christin Wurth-Thomas is my best friend and we are like sisters. We plan on rooming together. It’ll be great to have such a familiar face with me in China."
Wurth-Thomas clocked a 1,500-meter time of 4:08.48 to finish third in the finals and punch her ticket to the Beijing Olympic Games. The 2008 event will mark Wurth-Thomas’ first appearance on Team USA at the Olympics.
"I had a race plan coming into the race and I tried to stick to that," Wurth-Thomas said. "My thought was at 500 meters to go with all I had, but my legs were heavy. I felt good until I got on the track. I don’t know if it was nerves or what. (Having the "A" standard) was huge. I was counting as we went around every lap. We went out slow, so I knew we weren’t on an "A" standard pace. It’s very exciting (to make the Olympic team). That’s where all the hard work has paid off and now it’s time to go to Beijing and see what we can do."
"Fayetteville has Track Town USA in it too, next to Eugene," Steiner Bennett said. "There are a lot of great athletes that live and train in Fayetteville. Some of the former Lady’Backs that have made the Olympic Team were part of the (Arkansas) triple crown teams that I was on. It’s great to see my former teammates still training and succeeding on the track."
Gi-Gi (Miller) Johnson’s Olympic Trials run came to an end in the semifinals of the 100-meter hurdles. Running out of lane seven in heat two, she finished fifth in her heat and 11th overall with a time of 12.82 and narrowly missed advancing to the finals.
On Saturday, Johnson clocked a prelim time of 13.09 and a quarterfinal time of 13.11 to advance to Sunday’s semifinals. She also finished fourth in the heptathlon earlier this week.
For complete results, an updated list of entries and a television schedule from the U.S. Olympic Trials, visit www.usatf.org. For information on the Lady’Backs at the Olympic Trials, visit www.ladybacks.com.