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Olivia Ekponé claims silver in World Junior 200m

July 13, 2012
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
BARCELONA, Spain - Texas A&M's Olivia Ekponé claimed a silver medal at the IAAF World Junior Championships on Friday as she utilized a strong finish in the 200 meters to set a career best time of 23.15 seconds.

Earlier in the morning at Barcelona's Olympic Stadium, A&M incoming freshman Shelbi Vaughan, who signed with Aggie volleyball, needed only one throw of 179 feet, 8 inches (54.78) to automatically qualify for the final.

Vaughan ranked second in the group she competed in and was third overall, behind a pair of Germans, among the athletes advancing to the final.

Meanwhile a busy Jennifer Madu, who is another A&M incoming freshman, ran the third leg of the United States 4 x 100 relay as the squad posted a world junior leading time of 43.95 to win their semifinal heat. Madu has already made the 100m final and competed in triple jump qualifying at the World Juniors.

The Americans sprint relay finished ahead of the Netherlands, who posted a time of 44.68. Two of the other teams in the race did not finish while Australia was disqualified. The leading time in the other semifinal was a 44.47 from Great Britain over a 44.79 by Brazil while Belgium finished third in 44.88. Canada and Spain were disqualified while Jamaica did not finish.

Ekponé passed over half of the 200m field in the final 80m of the race. Her stellar finish caught nearly everyone, except for winner Anthonique Strachan of the Bahamas, who won in a championship record of 22.53 with a 0.2 wind.

"I'm very happy with my performance," stated Ekponé, who had a previous PR of 23.18 from winning the U.S. Junior title. "I came out here and did my best. The race was pretty intense from the beginning. I knew that I had to get out. Everyone here is a great starter and I couldn't underestimate them."

A lean at the finish enabled Ekponé to snare the silver medal position from U.S. teammate Dezeree Bryant, who finished third with the same time of 23.15.

"Just to be out here running is great," added Ekponé. "I'm a strong finisher, so I just needed to trust my training and my coaches to get where I am. I'm just really excited.

"I really love the 200. It's long enough, but short enough that it's a sprinter's race - it has the curve and straight."

Bryant noted: "I'm happy about placing that's all that matters. I could have run a lot better. I kind of two-stepped in the end. I felt good coming down the straightaway. I just tightened up at the end because my legs felt a little burned."

The rest of the weekend at the World Juniors will include the women's discus final on Sunday for Vaughan while Madu has the women's 4 x 100 final on Saturday. Aldrich Bailey will run on the men's 4 x 400, with prelims on Saturday and the final on Sunday.

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