Aug. 4, 2012
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LONDON, England – After winning a silver medal eight years ago in Athens, 2002 K-State graduate Austra Skujyte was in position to medal again in the heptathlon this year at the London Olympics but came up just a few points shy of standing on the podium for a second time for Lithuania. Skujyte finished fifth with a new personal best score of 6,599 points in a tightly contested heptathlon.
The two-time NCAA champion entered the final day of the heptathlon in second place after four solid performances on Friday, and she held that position throughout the day heading into the final event. Prior to the 800 meters Skujyte trailed Great Britain’s Jessica Ennis by 188 points, virtually an insurmountable deficit to overcome. But she was 82 points ahead of third place and 91 ahead of fifth place, meaning she needed to maintain pace in the 800 meters and avoid falling to those immediately behind her by more than seven seconds.
She could not keep up with the pack, however, and fell across the finish line in 2:20.59 to bring her overall score to 6,599 points and finish fifth. Skujyte missed the medal stand by 29 points, which would have made her the oldest woman to medal in the heptathlon at age 32.
To open the second day of the heptathlon, Skujyte posted a mark just short of her season best in the long jump to claim 927 points but saw Ennis build on her lead with a leap of 6.48 meters and 1,001 points. Skujyte made up some ground in the javelin with another season best mark. She threw the javelin 51.13 meters to outscore Ennis by 70 points in the event and narrow the gap.
The gold was won by Ennis as she scored a new national record for Great Britain at 6,955 points in front of the home crowd. In addition to the excitement and drama of Ennis winning at home, Germany’s Lilli Schwarzkopf was one of the first few to cross the line in the 800 meters and put herself in position to medal but was originally disqualified in the event, earning no points toward her score. Her time was reinstated, however, and she claimed the silver medal with 6,649 points.
Skujyte is the first woman to compete in the heptathlon in four different Olympic Games. K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto was on hand to watch Skujyte’s performance this week and said it was an impressive showing and he was proud of her effort on the world’s biggest stage for a fourth time.
“Her high jump was a PR; her shot put was a world heptathlon record and her jav was the second best ever in a heptathlon. They were all tremendous performances,” Rovelto said. “Her total score was a significant PR, but two of her running events were sub-par. She had the silver in her grasp but couldn’t hold them off. To compete in four consecutive Olympic Games in an event like the heptathlon is in and of itself a remarkable accomplishment. Austra is a remarkable athlete and an even more remarkable person.”
A pair of former Wildcats were in action in the women’s 3,000 meter steeplechase on Saturday from Olympic Stadium as well. Korene Hinds and Beverly Ramos had their sights set on qualifying for Monday’s final but both came up short in their preliminary heats.
Hinds ran her fastest time of the season clocking in at 9:37.95 in the first heat. She finished 10th in the heat with the top four getting automatic entry to the final followed by the next three fastest times from all heats. Hinds finished 24th overall in her second Olympics for Jamaica. Ramos finished 12th in her heat and 35th overall as she crossed the finish line in 9:55.26 for Puerto Rico.
Action continues on Sunday for the Wildcats with back-to-back NCAA champion Erik Kynard competing in the qualifying round of the men’s high jump for Team USA. He and fellow Team USA members Jamie Nieto and Jesse Williams will take on the world’s best at 1:05 p.m. Central.
Williams is the defending world champion in the event and seeking his first medal after just missing the final in 2008. Nieto finished fourth in 2004 in Athens. Both are coached by Rovelto, who has travelled to London to coach his group of athletes. Rovelto is the only coach to train all three members of Team USA in any respective event.
Fans can watch the high jump live online with a dedicated feed for the event available at NBCOlympics.com. There will be tape delayed coverage of track and field at 6 p.m. on NBC. In the qualifying round, athletes must jump 2.32 meters (7-07.00) or finish in the top 12.
London Olympic Games
5: Austra Skujyte, 6599 pts – personal best
100H: 14.00 (978 pts) – season best
HJ: 1.92m (1132 pts) – personal best
SP: 17.31m (1016 pts) – world heptathlon record
200m: 25.43 (848 pts)
Day 1: 3974 pts (2nd place)
LJ: 6.25m (927 pts)
JV: 51.13m (882 pts) – season best
800m: 2:20.55 (816 pts)
24: Korene Hinds, 9:37.95 - season best
35: Beverly Ramos, 9:55.26