Long jumper Tianna Madison blew kisses and waved to the crowd in a classy gesture as she exited her competition at the Olympic Trials on Thursday.
It wasn’t an easy thing to do with a broken heart and broken dreams.
Madison missed an Olympic berth to Beijing by only 5½ inches at Oregon’s Hayward Field. Her best jump was 21 feet, 7¼ inches, which came in the third of six rounds of jumps, with the Elyria High graduate and former world champion finishing fifth in the finals.
The top three spots earned trips to the Olympics, which begin Aug. 8.
“I was proud because I showed up to compete and I was slowly fighting my way back,” Madison said.
Fighting is what Madison intends to do, as she now turns her attention to qualifying for the next Olympic Games in 2012 in London.
“There’s no reason to give up,” she said. “In 2004, I was eighth at the trials. This year, I was fifth. That means in 2012 I make the team, right? I want an Olympic gold medal. Between now and then, there’s two world championships. Who knows what will happen?
“My parents told me to be patient with the Lord and myself because He still has big plans for me. They told me not be discouraged because it didn’t happen when I wanted it to happen, but they gave me permission to be sad about it.”
Madison improved round-by-round through the first three rounds Thursday. She was in fifth place heading into the final three rounds, but couldn’t overcome the four leaders.
“My leg (left hamstring) has been bothering me all week,” she said. “My left leg, which is my jumping leg, it just got very tight.
“A month ago, I didn’t even want to go to the trials because I was jumping so poorly. I said I’m not going to do this to myself. For what, jumping 20 feet? I finally reminded myself that I’m still a long jumper. I was able to make the final and be in the mix even though I felt like I was standing behind the 8-ball the last two years. That’s a pretty good accomplishment.”
Madison won’t be resting on those laurels.
“I have a track meet in Morocco next weekend,” she said. “I still believe I can jump what I set my goal to jump this year. I still believe I can jump 22 feet this year, maybe even seven meters (22 feet, 11 inches).”
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.