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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Florida has five track and field stars Tokyo bound for Team USA

The Gators have five track and field Olympic berths after the U.S. Olympic Trials

Florida's Taylor Manson competes during the Pepsi Florida Relays on Saturday, April 3, 2021 at Percy Beard Track at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Hannah White
Florida's Taylor Manson competes during the Pepsi Florida Relays on Saturday, April 3, 2021 at Percy Beard Track at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. / UAA Communications photo by Hannah White

Five Olympic rings. Five Gators going for gold. 

Florida track and field athletes past and present competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials from June 18 to June 27 in Eugene, Oregon. Current Gator Taylor Manson and former Gator greats Will Claye, Cory McGee, Marquis Dendy and Grant Holloway all booked their tickets to Tokyo. 

Taylor Manson will make her Olympic debut in the 4x400 relay. The redshirt junior missed the individual qualification for the 400 when she finished seventh in the final round despite a new personal-best 50.79, the third-best time in school history. 

Manson ran the first leg of UF’s 4x400 relay team this year, earning silver at SEC Outdoors. The team was the country’s top seed going into nationals and ended the 2021 season fourth overall at NCAA Outdoors

Two-time Olympian Will Claye looks to add a fourth Olympic medal to his collection. Claye made Team USA for the third consecutive Games after finishing first in the triple jump finals with a 17.21 meter (56-5 ¾) mark. 

2012 was a triumphant year in Claye’s career. He took home gold at the World Indoor in the triple jump and became the USATF Indoor triple jump champion. He went to his first Olympics to cap his victorious summer, where he secured silver in the triple jump and bronze in the long jump. Claye became the first American since 1904 and the first man since 1936 to win Olympic medals in both the long and triple jumps after his London appearance. 

Claye also had a podium finish in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with a second consecutive silver medal in the triple jump. 

UF record holder Cory McGee joins Team USA in the 1,500. She placed second in the 1,500 finals with a 4:00.67 time, six seconds faster than her 2013 school record. At Florida, McGee collected bronze at the USA Outdoor Championships and finished as a two-time NCAA Outdoors runner-up in the women’s 1,500. She also won six SEC titles as a middle-distance runner.

Marquis Dendy makes his Olympic comeback in the long jump. The 2015 Bowerman winner logged a season-best 8.38 meter (27-6) mark in his second attempt and obtained a second-place finish. He qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics but withdrew prior to the Games due to a lower right leg injury. 

Dendy was the champion of champions in his time as a triple and long jumper at UF. On top of holding the school record in both the long and triple jumps, he is a four-time SEC Indoor Champion, three-time SEC Outdoor Champion, three-time NCAA Indoor Champion and four-time NCAA Outdoor Champion. The Middletown, Delaware, native was also named the 2015 USTFCCCA Indoor and Outdoor National Field Athlete of the Year and struck gold at the 2015 USATF Outdoor Championships. 

Reigning world champion Grant Holloway is adding the Olympics to his astounding resume. Holloway clocked in at 12.81 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles semifinals, the second-fastest time in world history. He secured his Olympic ticket after sprinting a 12.96 in the finals, the only runner to crack 13 seconds in either attempt. 

“The main goal was to set myself up and to let everybody know that I'm here to win,” Holloway said. “I didn't come to this party to sit on the wall, I came here to dance.” 

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The Olympics are scheduled to open July 23. 

Contact Kaitlyn Wadulack at kwadulack@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @kwadulack.

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