TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Jonathan Borlee spent only a short time as a member of the Florida State track & field program, opting to turn professional after earning All-American honors in 2009 for the Seminoles , when he won the NCAA Outdoor Championship in the 400-meter dash.
Saturday at London’s Olympic Stadium, Borlee and his twin brother Kevin – a two-year All-American for the ‘Noles in the same event – thrust themselves into serious medal contention in the grueling sprint event.
Running comfortably from lane six in the third heat, Jonathan Borlee grabbed the Belgium national record from his brother, winning in 44.43. The fastest time in the field of seven qualifying heats earned Jonathan a spot in Sunday’s semifinal round, where he will be joined by his brother Kevin, who won the sixth heat from lane two in 45.14. That mark, though well off Kevin’s previous Belgium record of 44.56, tied for the sixth-fastest of the day.
“Both Jonathan and Kevin ran amazing, controlling their respective heats and advancing to the semifinals in perfect position,” said FSU Director of Sprints, Hurdles & Relays, Ken Harnden.
Harnden, who lured the twins from Belgium to Tallahassee in January 2009, was on hand for their performances as a spectator and will be back tomorrow for the semifinals, set for 3:40 p.m. (ET).
A short time later, Harnden watched 2012 FSU graduate and ACC 100-meter champion Kemar Hyman, earn a spot in Sunday’s semifinals of the 100. Hyman, representing the Cayman Islands, advanced on time after finishing fourth in the third heat in 10.16.
“Kemar ran conservatively, nursing a slight groin issue,” said Harnden, who continues to coach Hyman. “But he is through to the Olympic semifinals, which is an amazing accomplishment for him.”
Hyman shot from the blocks and led midway through the sprint before he was overhauled by a trio of runners, headed by USA Olympic newcomer Ryan Bailey, who won in a personal-best 9.88.
Now he’ll face the challenge of getting to the finals, which will likely require matching – or bettering – his Cayman Islands national record 9.95 set last month. Running out of lane two, he is has the third-fastest time in 2012 of the eight men in the third heat, trailing Jamaica’s Yohan Blake (9.75) and USA veteran Tyson Gay (9.86). Their semifinal race is set for 2:45 p.m. ET.
The top two runners from each of the three heats, plus the next two fastest times, will move on the evening final.
While the former Seminole sprinters more than held up their end of the bargain on the second day of track & field competition at the Games, two other FSU graduates saw their Olympic hopes dashed.
United States pole vaulter Lacy Janson cleared her first two bars – 4.25m and 4.40m – on her first attempts, but was denied one of 12 spots in the finals with three misses at 4.50m in her Olympic debut.
The Sarasota native and Tallahassee resident since 2002, would have needed to clear 4.55m – two more bars – to move on.
Barbara Parker, Great Britain’s national record holder in the 3000-meter steeplechase, entered Saturday’s qualifying heats with a real shot at landing one of 10 spots in the finals before the home crowd. Midway through the race, Parker was positioned to do just that, running with the lead pack.
With the top four in each of two heats, plus the next two fastest times advancing, the 2007 FSU All-American was right where she needed to be.
Her hopes, however, unraveled at the fourth water jump, which she revealed post-race via Twitter @BarbaraParker3:
"4 big holes in my foot. Someone landed on my whole foot on the 4th water jump. Lost focus and just missed the final #5knext"
Parker, who is married to another former Seminole distance runner – Sean Burris – finished with the 11th-fastest time of the day; one spot and just two seconds shy of joining Great Britain’s monumental day of achievements at the track.
Fortunately, Parker will have a shot at redemption. She also qualified for the Games in the 5000-meter run, and will compete in Tuesday’s qualifying heats.
In addition to Borlees and Hyman in the 400- and 100-meter semifinals, respectively, Sunday’s slate of action will also provide 2012 FSU graduate and Jamaican triple jumper Kimberly Williams a chance to grab a medal in the finals. The No. 2 qualifier following Friday’s heats, Williams has an opportunity to extend a streak of Summer Olympic medalists with Florida State ties to six consecutive Games.