Olympic Games

Sanya Richards-Ross speaks to the Longhorn Network about her upcoming trip to the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

When it comes to the Olympics, Sanya Richards-Ross knows exactly what to do — after all, her trip to London in two weeks will be her third time competing in the Olympic Games. But with all her accomplishments and hardware, Richards-Ross has yet to fulfill one dream that she has had since the beginning, bringing home an individual Olympic gold medal.

“The individual gold is the reason I’ve stayed in this sport,” Richards-Ross said. “To be able to have an individual gold medal, I don’t know if I will be able to describe it, it will be my longtime dream come true. It will be the ultimate for me for what I’ve been working on for 20 years now since I was seven.”

In London, Richards-Ross will compete individually in the 200-meter and 400-meter events. She also qualified to participate in the 4x400 meter relay.

In 2004, at her first Olympic Games in Athens, Richards-Ross came away with her first Olympic medal — a gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay. She then she came home from the 2008 Beijing Olympics with two medals around her neck – one team gold medal in the 4x400 meter relay and a bronze medal in the 400-meter individual event.

Although she has been the favorite in the 400-meter dash since the 2004 Olympic Games, unfortunate circumstances have prevented her from claiming individual gold.

Richards-Ross failed to qualify for the 400-meter dash in 2004, coming in fourth at the Olympic trials due to illness. In 2008, Richards-Ross went to Beijing as the fastest finals qualifier and once again the favorite, but after coming out of the starting blocks too fast, took third.

“After 2008, I was so disappointed because I thought it was a huge missed opportunity,” Richards-Ross said. “Though I’ve had some tough times with injury and illness, the one thing that kept me going was that I wanted to get back to this point. To be able to have an individual gold medal.”

Now she’s back and is once again the one to watch for in women’s track and field. However, she’s added one more thing to her resume. After qualifying for the 400-meter dash with a first place finish, Richards-Ross decided to attempt the 200-meter dash. After three days of preparation, she qualified for the 200-meter dash with a third place finish.

“When the season started, I was focused on the 400,” Richards-Ross said. “Once that was over, I had about three days to recover … and it turned out to be a phenomenal race. It was really tough to make the team in the 200. I’m still solely focused on the 400, the 200 is icing on the cake.”

With all the knowledge she has gained from her past experiences, Richards-Ross is approaching the trip to London with a sense of calm and increased patience — she plans to enjoy herself. She believes that becoming too tense in the past has limited her accomplishments.

“I think I put a lot of pressure on myself to go out there and perform at a very high level … This year I worked very hard to stay disciplined,” she said of her shortcomings in Beijing. “I just feel so excited! I feel that I have so many great experiences that I can pull from and so I really hope to go out there an make this my best one ever.”

She has not decided what she will do after London. Thanks to her recent good health and success, a trip to the 2016 games is not unobtainable.

“I am kind of on the fence about it,” Richards-Ross said. “A couple of years ago I probably would have thought [the 2012 Olympics] would be my last … but the way I am feeling now, I feel that I could potentially do another one. It all depends but I am not going in thinking that, it would be too much pressure. We will see where the future takes me.”

Brendan Hansen kneels as he celebrates his win in the men's 100-meter breaststroke final at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Although the 2012 United States Olympic Trials are still in full swing, many Longhorns have already qualified to make the trip to London in three different sports.

In diving, former Longhorn Troy Dumais qualified for his fourth Olympic Games last week in Federal Way, Washington in two events. Dumais and his partner Kristian Ipsen from Stanford took first in the men’s 3-meter synchronized springboard event to qualify. On the last day of the diving trials, Dumais finished second in the individual 3-meter springboard to earn his spot on Team USA.

In Eugene, Ore. at the track and field trials, Sanya Richards-Ross has qualified for her third Olympic Games in two events, the 200- and 400-meter races. This is the first time in her career that she has qualified for two different events. Richards-Ross won gold in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008 for her part in the 4x400 meter relay. She also took home bronze in Beijing in the 400-meter individual event.

Richards-Ross will be joined in London by Trey Hardee in the decathlon and Michelle Carter in shot put. This will be Hardee’s second trip to the Olympics after finishing fourth in the decathlon in 2008. Carter has also qualified for her second career Olympics. She finished fifteenth in Beijing in shot put.

Marquise Goodwin, a starter on the Longhorns’ football team, finished first place in the men’s long jump event with a jump of 8.33 meters, a personal best to qualify for the Olympic team.

Several Longhorns have already qualified for Team USA in the pool, with several more attempting to make the team by the time trials end on July 2.

Former Longhorn Ricky Berens qualified for his second Olympics in the 400- and 800-meter freestyle relays. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Berens won gold in the 800-meter freestyle relay along with Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay. Berens swam the third leg for the record-setting team. Berens came in third in his final heat on the 200-meter freestyle, missing the qualifying mark by just 0.81 seconds.

Brendan Hansen qualified for the 100-meter breaststroke with a second-place finish ahead of Longhorn Aquatics teammate Eric Shanteau, who also qualified for the Olympics. This will be Hansen’s second trip to the Summer Games. Hansen has four medals to his name, including a gold for his participation on the 800-meter freestyle relay with Berens.

Kathleen Hersey, who competed for the Longhorns for two years before turning professional with Longhorn Aquatics, placed second in the 200-meter butterfly to qualify for her second Olympic Games. Hersey narrowly missed qualifying in the 100-meter butterfly event by finishing in third place.

Jimmy Feigen is the new Olympian on the swim team for the Longhorns. Feigen qualified for the relay team with a fourth-place finish in the 100-meter freestyle event and will be attempting to qualify for 50-meter race as well.