Aug. 7, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The fifth day of track & field competition at London's Olympic Stadium produced the first recorded Tomahawk Chop of the XXXth Olympiad, courtesy Florida State star Maurice Mitchell.
Mitchell made his Olympic debut Tuesday in the 200-meter dash a special occasion, winning the third heat of the opening round - from lane 9, nonetheless - in a comfortable time of 20.54. The victory secured the two-time NCAA champion and 13-time All-American a spot in Wednesday's semifinals.
"Today was a good day," Mitchell said. "I felt like I competed well, ran smart and advance to the semis like I wanted to. I just thank God for allowing me to be here and be able to represent USA. I'm looking forward to the semi's."
Mitchell, who just completed his final season of eligibility with the Seminoles, celebrated with a Tomahawk Chop. It was a well-received tribute to the Seminoles, based on the Twitter traffic it inspired.
"I just had to do it," Mitchell said.
FSU coach Bob Braman couldn't have been happier for the Kansas City, Mo. native.
"That was a whale of an Olympic debut for Maurice," Braman said. "It looks like he's back in the form he was in at NCAA's. He could make the Olympic final if he is."
In order to reach the finals, Mitchell will have to place in the top two in the third heat of his semifinal race against a field that includes erstwhile challengers Warren Weir (Jamaica) and Churandy Martina (Netherlands). In addition to the top two finishers from each of the three heats, the next two fastest qualifiers will also make up the field in Thursday's final.
Mitchell's semifinal heat is scheduled for 3:26 p.m. (ET).
Two other athletes with Florida State ties also competed Tuesday on the track. Great Britain's Barbara Parker overcame the pain of a spiked foot she suffered in the qualifying rounds of the 3000-meter steeplechase to post a new personal-best in the 5000 meters. Parker raced to a career-best time of 15:12.81, though her ninth-place finish in the first heat prevented her from advancing to the final.
Anne Zagre, who is a member of Florida State's 2012 signing class, turned in a strong showing in the semifinal round of the 100-meter hurdles. Representing Belgium in her Olympic debut, Zagre posted a time of 12.94 to finish sixth in the third heat, but did not advance.
To put Zagre's performance against a strong field into perspective, her time is a full .12 faster than the current Florida State record held by former USA Olympian Kim Batten since 1991.
Two other former Seminole greats will join Mitchell in action Wednesday.
Gonzalo Barroilhet, FSU's school record holder in the decathlon, will begin his two-day quest with the 100-meter dash (5:10 a.m., ET), followed by the long jump (6:10), shot put (8:10), high jump (1 p.m.) and 400-meter dash (4:30 p.m.).
Barroilhet, who just completed his final season of eligibility with the Seminoles by winning the ACC decathlon title with a record performance and backing it up with All-American honors, is coached by current FSU assistant Dennis Nobles. The Chilean has his sights set on a top-eight finish, while better his career-best ACC standard of 8,024 points.
Great Britain's Hannah England will continue her quest for an Olympic medal in the semifinal round of the 1500-meter run, set for 2:45 p.m. England, who still holds the NCAA Championship record she set in 2008, is trying to match or improve upon her silver medal finish at the 2011 IAAF World Championships.
England will run before a GBR-partisan crowd in the first of two heats, with the top five from each heat plus the next two fastest finishers moving on to Thursday finals. She qualified for the semifinals by finishing fifth in her fast opening round heat (4:05.73), which produced 10 of the 24 semifinalists.