Sha'Keela Saunders Claims Pan Am Games Bronze Medal in Long Jump

LEXINGTON. Ky. - Kentucky track and field sophomore Sha'Keela Saunders claimed the bronze medal while competing for the United States in the long jump at the Pan American Games in Toronto on Friday. 

Saunders needed her sixth and final attempt to vault into medal position from eighth place entering the last round. She used all of the board on her sixth attempt though, reaching 21-feet-10.75 inches/6.66 meters.

Saunders won the Southeastern Conference Long Jump title at home indoors in February. She is a two-time NCAA Silver Medalist in the long jump, and claimed the NCAA Bronze outdoors in June. 

Saunders booked her spot on Team USA by virtue of her fifth-place finish at the USATF Championships in June. There she tied her personal best in the long jump: 22'1.75"/6.75m.

She is the first alternate for the American team that will compete at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month.

Canada's Christabel Nettey won the PanAm Long Jump Gold with a best jump of 22'7.75"/6.90m, and Bianca Stuart (Bahamas) claimed silver with a mark of 21'11.5"/6.69m.

Raymond Dykstra, a 2015 UK graduate, placed 11th in the javelin with a mark of 241'10"/73.73m competing for Canada.

The Pan Am Games are a set of international competitions in the Americas held every four years in the year before the Summer Olympic Games. The competition is held among athletes from nations of the Americas.