After easily qualifying for finals in two events, JuVaughn Harrison came up short in his bid to claim a medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games on Sunday.
Harrison’s first Olympics experience ended with no hardware when the former LSU All-American finished seventh in the high jump and fifth in the long jump in a span of 16½ hours.
After a tough start in the long jump Sunday night (Monday morning Tokyo time), Harrison, who had to post a big jump on his third attempt just to be among the top eight competitors that were awarded three more jumps, had gotten himself into position for a bronze medal with a jump of 26 feet, 9 inches.
But Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou moved from fifth place and into third when he matched Harrison’s mark on his fifth attempt and had the tiebreaker based on second-best jump.
Tentoglou, who came into the games with the best jump in the world this year, then won the gold medal on his final attempt at 27-7¼.
In the high jump early Sunday, the 22-year-old Harrison ran into a buzz saw in one of the most competitive competitions in Olympics history.
But he dug himself a hole after clearing the bar on his initial attempt at the first two heights inside Olympic Stadium.
He wound up making five bars before bowing out at 7-7¾, which was an inch short of the personal-record 7-8¾ he established in winning the title at the Southeastern Conference championships in May.
That mark was the third-best in the world this year going into the Olympics, but it was hardly enough in the finals.
Harrison got caught up in a fierce competition in which the top three athletes who got into contention for medals combined for just one miss early on.
That left him back in the pack in 11th place among the 13 athletes who qualified for the finals before he rallied slightly.
He missed twice at 7-5¼ — the first sign of trouble — before clearing on his final try at that height to remain in the competition.
He had another miss at both 7-6½ and 7-7¾ before making his second try at each height.
Knowing the athletes ahead of him had fewer misses, he had no choice but to pass at 7-8½ and 7-9¼.
Before passing, however, he missed his first attempt at the latter height and then couldn’t navigate the bar on two tries at 7-10.
Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi shared the gold medal with clearances of 7-9¼ each.
Neither had a miss until the bar was raised to 7-10 and after they couldn’t get over the bar, then agreed to share the gold instead of going to a jump-off.
Maksim Nedasekau of Belarus took the bronze, also at 7-9¼.
Harrison, who won the high jump and long jump titles at the U.S. Olympic team trials in late June, was the first American athlete to make the Olympics in the unusual high jump/long jump double since the great Jim Thorpe back in 1912.
Also Sunday night, former Southeastern Louisiana thrower Alex Young had a personal best of 246-4 in qualification round of the hammer.
He finished 16th overall, however, and did not advance to the finals.