EUGENE, Ore. — One current and one former LSU athlete took the first step toward a possible spot in the Summer Olympics on Friday when they advanced to the semifinals in their respective events at the U.S. track and field trials.
On the opening day of competition, LSU All-American Michael Cherry and former Lady Tigers All-American Charlene Lipsey advanced through the first round to Saturday’s semifinals in their respective events.
But it wasn’t all good at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
Former LSU star Vernon Norwood, a two-time NCAA champion at 400 meters who made the U.S. team for the outdoor World championships last summer and the indoor worlds this winter, pulled up about 300 meters into his first-round race and did not finish — ending his Olympic hopes for 2016.
LSU coach Dennis Shaver said Norwood suffered a slightly strained left hamstring in practice about 12 to 14 days ago and tried to go but couldn’t finish the race.
Norwood, a Morgan City native, was considered to be a contender for the U.S. team again after winning gold medals with the 4x400-meter relay teams at the most recent outdoor and indoor worlds.
Cherry, who finished third in the 400 on the same track at the NCAA championships on June 10, automatically advanced to the semifinals when he finished second in his first-round heat in 45.68 seconds.
The top two finishers in each heat moved on to the semifinals. Gil Roberts won the heat with a time of 45.40.
Lipsey, who ran fourth in her heat, covered the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 01.33 seconds to record the second-fastest time of the six athletes who advanced on time after the top two finishers in each heat automatically advanced.
FORMER TIGER VENUS TO COMPETE IN OLYMPICS: In Auckland, New Zeland, the New Zealand Olympic Committee announced Friday former LSU tennis player Michael Venus was selected to compete with Marcus Daniell in doubles at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Venus and Daniell qualified by being the highest-ranked players in New Zealand, becoming the second doubles pair to compete for New Zealand in the Olympics.
The former All-American and SEC Player of the Year has won four ATP doubles titles this year with partner Mate Pavic of Croatia.
Venus is currently competing at Wimbledon, where he and Pavic are the 16th seed. The duo opened up the first round of doubles play with a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory against Chris Guccione of Australia and André Sá of Brazil.
This marks the second time in two years Venus has reached the second round of doubles at Wimbledon.
Former Tigers Ken and Neal Skupski are also scheduled to play in the men’s doubles draw at Wimbledon.