July 1, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. - Called “unheralded and unknown” by NBC announcers, few thought Louisiana Tech’s Chelsea Hayes stood a chance in Sunday’s long jump finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Yet like she has done so many times before Hayes proved skeptics wrong, smashed another record and will represented the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
A native of New Orleans, Hayes was in fifth place of the 12-athlete finals round when the field was cut to eight for three final attempts. She still stood in fifth place with a mark of 22-2.25 (6.76m) entering her final attempt, needing only 4.25 inches to catch up to Whitney Gipson (formerly of TCU) to finish in the top three. Having fouled her previous four jumps, Hayes finally got on the board and jumped an astounding 23-3.5 (7.10m) to finish second at the Olympic Trials and qualify for Team USA at the Olympic Games.
Hayes’ previous wind-legal personal record (also a school and WAC record) mark was 21-10.75 (6.67m) and she beats her old record mark by 17 inches, a mark not likely to be broken at Louisiana Tech or in the WAC anytime soon.
She leaves Eugene with the fourth-best long jump mark in the world this year with the USA’s Brittney Reese holding the top two marks. Russia’s Anna Nazarova is just ahead of Hayes with a mark of 23-4 (7.11m) and Hayes is expected to enter the Olympic Games ranked third.
Reese is a talented jumper and tough competitor in the long jump. Hayes was originally thought to win with Reese’s last attempt ruled a foul but the Nike-sponsored jumper appealed the judge’s decision and it was overturned, allowing her to win with a world-leading mark of 23-5.5 (7.15m).
Hayes joins former Louisiana Tech thrower Jason Morgan in representing Louisiana Tech in the Olympic Games. Morgan will represent his native Jamaica in the discus throw. Both Hayes and Morgan currently train in Ruston.
Hayes becomes the third known Louisiana Tech track and field athlete to compete at the Olympic Games. Former Jamaican native and javelin thrower Olivia McKoy represented LA Tech and Jamaica at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. This will be the first time Tech has had two track and field athletes competing at the same Olympic games.
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