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Two Bears chase gold in Olympics

Aug. 23, 2004

Wariner to compete tonight

in 400-meter race

By CATHERINE BROWN, sports editor

Chants of "USA" filled the courtyard outside Hibbet Sports in Richland Mall on July 30 as hundreds of fans waited to meet Baylor's two Olympians, Jeremy Wariner and Darold Williamson, and wish them well in Athens, Greece.

Their trip to the 2004 Olympic games began in May after winning national titles at the 2004 NCAA Outdoor Track Championships in Austin.

Next on the road to Athens was a month of training for the Olympic Pre-trials in Sacramento, Calif.

Both advanced to the 400-meter finals where Wariner, a Grand Prairie junior, won the title by clocking a time of 44.37, the fastest time in the world this year, earning him a spot on Team USA.

Derrick Brew narrowly edged Williamson, a San Antonio senior, out of the final spot at 44.69.

Williamson's 44.70 garnered him a spot on the 4x400-meter men's relay team.

"To put it in perspective of the history of Baylor University, there have only been two other Olympians," head Coach Clyde Hart said. "[O]f course, Michael [Johnson] who represented the United States in the last three Olympics. So we have two new members, so we equal Baylor's all-time best in one year."

Wariner will try to make it the third consecutive Olympics that a Baylor runner has won the 400-meter gold.

Wariner won his first round heat with a time of 45.56. He also won his semifinal heat with a time of 44.87, the top time overall. He will race tonight for the chance to win his first gold medal.

Despite their age, Wariner and Williamson said they don't feel any pressure competing against the best in the world.

"I really don't have any pressure right now," Wariner said. "I'm just going out there and working out real hard right now and do what I do every week. I don't really think about my race, so that helps a lot with not being pressured."

Williamson said he's been taught to treat the games like any other track meet.

Hart said he thinks both are handling the pressure well.

"I think that they realize the competition at the Olympics is not going to be any different than they've had all year," he said. "I think that helps them. In the event area that they're in, the United States is extremely strong, so they're prepared for the rest of the world."

All three said they think Williamson and Wariner are capable of bringing home any of the medals, but they are keeping their eyes on the best: the gold medal.

"If you've made it this far, there's no reason to go over and go for anything but to win," Hart said.

Wariner said he wants to win the gold, but also wants to have fun and enjoy himself.

"This is my first Olympics and I have four years to come, so I can't ask for anything right now," he said.

Williamson said he expects to win and expects it to be gold.

"That's what we'll bring home," he said. "We try to expect nothing less than gold."

Besides competing, Wariner and Williamson are looking forward to taking in the sights around them. Both are excited about seeing the birthplace of the Olympics.

Olympic track and field events run through Aug. 29. The first round of the men's 4x400-meter relay starts Friday, with the final on Saturday.