The results so far have not been sterling, or golden for that matter, but HBCU athletes at the Tokyo Olympics still have some opportunities to make a mark.
Livingstone’s Quanera Hayes (women’s 400 meters) is still alive for an individual medal.
North Carolina A&T senior quartermiler Trevor Stewart has won a historic medal but decorated sophomore teammate Randolph Ross Jr. has not.
Both will have second opportunities to secure gold at the end of the week.
Here’s how the HBCU athletes have fared so far.
Livingstone’s Quanera Hayes makes women’s 400 meters semis
U. S. champion Quanera Hayes ran a time of 51.07 seconds to advance in the women’s 400 meters heats Tuesday. Hayes finished behind Great Britain’s Jodie Williams 50.99 in the heat.
Hayes can run faster. She won the national title at the U. S. Olympic trials in season’s best time of 49.78.
Allyson Felix of the U. S., competing in her fifth Olympics, won her heat in a time of 50.84 to advance. Wadeline Jonathas of the U. S. also advanced with a second place finish in her heat in 50.93 seconds.
The women’s 400 meters semifinals will take place on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The final is set for 9:35 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6.
Coppin State’s Amoah advances in men’s 200 meters
Coppin State sprinter Joseph Paul Amoah, running for his native Ghana, advanced out of Tuesday’s men’s 200 meters first round with his season’s best time of 20.35 seconds. Amoah was in the seventh and final heat, finishing third behind U. S. champion and defending Olympic champion Noah Lyles (20.18) and Sibusiso Matsenjwa of Switzerland (20.34).
Kenneth Bednarek (20.01) and Erriyon Knighton (20.55) of the U. S. won their heats and advanced. The top three in each heat plus the next three fastest advanced to the semifinals.
Trevor Stewart makes N. C. A&T history, takes home bronze
North Carolina A&T senior Trevor Stewart earned a bronze medal Saturday as a participant in the first-ever mixed 4×400 meter relay. The event involves two men and two women on each team.
Stewart, who earned his place on the U. S. Olympic team by finishing fourth in the 400 meters at the Olympic trials, did not run in Friday’s first round. The U. S. team finished first Friday in their heat in 3:11.39 but had to overcome a disqualification as Taylor Manson was ruled to have taken the baton out of the zone. That disqualification was later overturned allowing the American team to advance.
In Saturday’s final, Stewart ran the leadoff leg in 44.9 – the second-fastest on the team – to match some of his best times this season. The team however, was nipped at the tape to finish third in 3:10.22. The gold medal went to the quartet from Poland (3:09.87) and the silver medal foursome from the Dominican Republic (3:10.21) finished just ahead of the U. S.
A&T’s Ross eliminated early in men’s 400 meters
North Carolina A&T sophomore Randolph Ross Jr., who had run the fastest 400 meters time in the world this year (43.85 seconds) in winning the men’s NCAA championship, could only post a time of 45.67 Sunday and finished fourth in the second heat of the opening round of the 400 meters.
Running out of lane nine in heat two, Ross had a lot of ground to make up coming off the final turn. After getting to third in the last 15 meters, he appeared to ease off at the finish. Ross did not advance as his time fell three-hundredths of a second out of advancing to the semifinals.
“That was terrible,” Ross told NBC after the race.
The top three in each heat and the six next fastest times advanced. Ross’s was the eighth fastest. Ricci Petrucciani of Switzerland ran 45.64 in the same heat to finish ahead of Ross and knock him out of the competition.
Ross Jr. was the only of the three Americans in the 400 meters that did not advance to the semifinals.
Another chance coming
Michael Cherry won the first round’s third heat in 44.82 to advance to the semifinals. Michael Norman was second in the sixth and final heat of the first round in 45.35 to advance.
On Monday, Cherry (44.44) won his semifinal heat and Norman (44.52) finished second in his heat. Both advanced to Thursday’s 9:00 p.m. final.
Ross Jr. and Stewart, two members of N. C. A&T’s NCAA champion 4×400 meter relay team, will compete for the U. S. in the men’s 4×400 at the Olympics. The opening round heats will be contested at 8:25 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6. The final is on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 9:50 p.m.
Saint Aug’s Belle falls short in 400 hurdles semis
Saint Augustine’s Tia-Adana Belle, running for her native Barbados, advanced out of Sunday’s first round of the women’s 400 meters hurdles with a second-place finish in her heat in a time of 55.69 seconds.
Belle ran considerably slower in Monday’s semifinals finishing eighth in 59.26. World record holder Sydney McLaughlin of the U. S. won the heat in 53.03. Belle seemed to struggle over the eighth hurdle and did not advance.
Former world record holder Daliliah Muhammad of the U. S. won the first 400 hurdles semifinal in 53.30 Monday to advance to the finals. Southern Cal’s Anna Cockrell also earned a spot in finals with a second-place finish in her heat in 54.17.
The women’s 400 meters hurdles final is Wednesday (Aug. 3) at 11:30 a.m.