Aug. 5, 2012
LONDON - K-State high jumper Erik Kynard told members of the media he had to focus on making the final in his event at the London Olympics before he could even start thinking about further success. He took care of the first step on Sunday evening at Olympic Stadium clearing 2.29 meters (7-06.00) to advance to Tuesday's final with the best in the world.
The back-to-back NCAA champion was clean through the first three heights clearing 7-01.00 all the way up to 7-05.00 easily. His only miss of the qualifying round came at 2.29 when he clipped the bar but then made it over easily on his second attempt.
He will not be the lone American in the final on Tuesday, either, as all three members of Team USA advanced out of the qualifying round. Defending world champion Jesse Williams tied with Kynard for third also missing his first attempt at 2.29. This will be his first Olympic final after just coming up short in 2008 at the Beijing Games.
Jamie Nieto continues his amazing swan song as the oldest American male to qualify for the Olympics in the high jump. He was clean through the first three heights as well, which was enough to advance to the final based on previous heights when he missed at 2.29.
K-State Head Coach Cliff Rovelto serves as the personal coach for Williams and Nieto in addition to Kynard. He is the only coach to serve as the personal coach for every Team USA member in a respective event at this year's Olympics. Rovelto said it was a solid performance from all three of his jumpers and Kynard in particular was jumping well as they turn their attention to the final.
"Erik looked great. He was just too close to the pit at his only miss," Rovelto said. "Jesse was fine, and Jamie did a good job of being clean through 2.26. His third attempt at 2.29 was good. We should be fine. It was pretty cold but no rain during the competition."
Nieto is also in his second Olympic Games. He just missed qualifying for the games in 2008 and finished fourth in 2004 at the Athens Games when another Rovelto coached jumper Matt Hemmingway took home the silver medal.
There was one major upset of the qualifying round. Russian Aleksandr Shustov failed to advance to the final based on misses. He took three attempts to clear 2.26, which got some to the final, but because he took two attempts to clear 2.21 meters (7-03.00) the No. 5-ranked jumper in the world will not have a shot at a medal.
Two other jumpers ranked in the top 10, Trevor Barry of the Bahamas and Rozel Prezelj of Slovenia also failed to make the final.
Kynard has gained notice for his flare when competing as he wears purple and white striped socks with his K-State uniform. Before leaving for London, he was asked if he had special socks picked out for the Olympics. He finally got to unveil a pair of American flag styled socks after saying he would keep the socks a secret until competition day.
Competition for the final is set to start at 1 p.m. Central on Tuesday with America looking for its for medal in the high jump since 2004. Kynard hopes to become the first Wildcat to medal since Austra Skujyte won silver in 2004 in the heptathlon. He also hopes to become the first Wildcat to earn a medal while still having NCAA eligibility since Thane Baker took silver in the 200 meters in 1952.
The high jump final will feature 14 jumpers with seven currently ranked in the top 10 in the world. Six others are tied for 12th this season, and Colombia's Wanner Miller advanced to the final after entering the competition ranked tied for 24th in the world.
Fans can watch the high jump final live online with NBCOlympics.com providing a live video feed specifically for the event. Updates will be posted on the @kstate_gameday Twitter handle as well, and live results can be followed at London2012.com.