Acevedo and Thomas Prepare for Olympic Debuts
Aug. 17, 2008
In the Fast Lane with Jose Acevedo
Beijing, China - The wait has finally ended for University of Kentucky track and field seniors Jose Acevedo and Mikel Thomas as they prepare for their Olympic debuts at the 2008 Summer Games Monday morning. Acevedo runs the 200 meter dash for Venezuela at 10:33 a.m. (Sun. 10:33 p.m. ET) and Thomas starts the 110 meter hurdles for Trinidad and Tobago at 11:18 a.m. (Sun. 11:18 p.m. ET) at the National Stadium in Beijing, China.
Acevedo comes into the event with a personal-best time of 20.58. He takes the blocks in lane seven against eight other men of heat five during round one of the 200m dash. The competition will be tough as the 2008 100 meter dash gold medalist Usain Bolt of Jamaica lines up in lane four with the world's best 200m time this year of 19.67. There are eight total heats. The first three in each heat and the next eight top times advance to round two on Monday evening.
In May, Acevedo broke the Venezuelan National Record in the 200m dash at the NCAA Mideast Regional after crossing the line in 20.58 twice, once in the prelims and again the next day in the event final. He ranks third all-time at Kentucky behind former Olympian sprinter Tim Harden. In June at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Acevedo anchored the men's 4x400m relay squad that finished third in the nation while setting the UK varsity record in a time of 3:02.00.
Thomas takes the track with a qualifying mark of 13.72 in the 110 meter hurdles. He will race in lane three against seven other athletes of heat two during round one. Thomas' competition includes American champ David Oliver who starts in lane six with the second-best time in the world this year of 12.95. There are six round-one heats in the 110m hurdles. The top four in each heat and the next eight top times advance to round two on Tuesday evening.
Last month Thomas won the men's 110m hurdles title at the Sagicor/NAAA National Senior Open Championships in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Thomas ran 13.96 to clinch the gold in the event. Thomas' junior season was a record-breaking campaign beginning last summer when he set the 110m hurdles title in his home country. During the 2008 indoor season, he broke the UK 60m hurdles varsity record multiple times, finally posting a top mark of 7.75. This summer Thomas set the school's 110m hurdles varsity record four times during the outdoor season. His current record mark of 13.57 (+3.3w) was set at the NCAA Mideast Regional in May.
"This is the day I've been training for since I saw my first Olympic games, yet I feel like the day has been waiting for me," Thomas stated Sunday. "By this time tomorrow, I will not be the same."
Kentucky assistant coach for sprints Erin Tucker, serving as a guest coach for Venezuela, believes his Wildcats are ready.
"They are set up for success," Tucker said. "They just have to execute."
The 2008 Beijing Games are the first to have multiple track athletes represent Kentucky. UK track and field has been represented by one participant at every summer Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Games with the exception of the heavily boycotted Moscow Games in 1980.
Big Blue fans can follow the progress of the Kentucky track and field contingent in Beijing by clicking the UK Olympics button on the UKathletics.com homepage. The special Wildcat Olympians webpage contains bios and features blogs frequently updated by each of the track athletes and UK assistant coach Erin Tucker during their 2008 Summer Games experiences.
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for Olympic Games updates and more post-season news.
University of Kentucky 2008 Summer Olympic Games Track and Field Participants
Jose Acevedo (Venezuela) -- 200m dash
David Freeman (Puerto Rico) -- 1500m run
Mikel Thomas (Trinidad and Tobago) -- 110m hurdles
Coach Erin Tucker (Venezuela) -- Guest coach