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Elyria native Tianna Bartoletta returns to Olympics in 100 meters to cap wonderful weekend

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    Tianna Bartoletta wins her heat during qualifying for women's 100-meter run at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Saturday, July 2, 2016, in Eugene Ore. AP PHOTO

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Tianna Bartoletta hugged her brand-new Olympic teammates and waved a small American flag as she stood on the track soaking in the moment.

She has a lot to celebrate this holiday weekend.

Bartoletta, an Elyria High graduate, finished second Sunday in the 100 meters of the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., to qualify for the Rio Olympics next month. She will try to earn the title of the world’s fastest woman after finishing fourth in the 100 in 2012 at the London games.

She’s also expected to be a member of the 4x100 relay after winning gold in London on the world record-setting team.

If that weren’t enough, Bartoletta had qualified for Rio in the long jump Saturday, placing second.

“One of the mantras we’ve been drilling into me is that I have to conquer myself,” said Bartoletta, whose maiden name is Madison. “Conquering myself is the only victory that truly matters, and when I walk away from the long jump or walk away from the 100, I have to be proud of myself and know that I gave 100 percent.

“On the other hand, it was so finely tuned and planned out the way I was going to handle this meet that it was almost like a checklist. Done, done, done, done, so as a professional, I did what I needed to do.”

Bartoletta, who turns 31 in August, was focused before the race, barely acknowledging the cheers when she was announced. She led for much of the lightning-fast race before English Gardner passed her late.

Gardner won in 10.74 seconds, and Bartoletta leaned with her head to finish second at 10.776. Tori Bowie was third in 10.779. They are all headed to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

According to a statkeeper, this was the first wind-legal women’s 100 with three times under 10.8.

“These two ladies are the two most fierce ladies we have in the United States because they don’t back down,” Gardner said. “They’re not scared of anybody, and that’s why I love competing with them because they always give the best race they possibly can. I knew it was gonna be a wire-to-wire race, so if I just kept my composure, we would just see what I came out with in the end.”

Bartoletta, who ran 10.85 in London, is the only Olympic veteran of the trio, but Gardner was already thinking about what the relay will be able to do.

“It’s going to be nasty, I promise you that,” she said.

Bartoletta will compete against the world as she looks for multiple medals in Rio, but she might find the experience easier than this weekend. During the long jump finals Saturday she had to leave the pit for the track to run the first heat of the 100.

“The schedule for Rio is going to be completely easy compared to this weekend,” she said. “The 100 is going to be first and there’s a good three, four, maybe even five days between the 100 and the long jump, so I’m happy this difficult trial is past me.

“It’s been a struggle finding my stride and rhythm on the runway with a new coach. It hasn’t been perfect but in the last two weeks, my husband and I changed my training. I would warm up, take six jumps and then go over to the hundred and sprint, so I’ve been doing that for the last two weeks to be physically and mentally prepared for this weekend.”

Bartoletta is a two-time world champion (2005, ’15) in the long jump but will jump in the Olympics for the first time. She flew 23 feet, ½ inch Saturday.

She won nine state championships for Elyria High. She lives in Tampa, Fla.



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