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Aug. 22, 2004

Athens, Greece – Another extremely hot day today in Athens, Greece, Gamecock-affiliated athletes, Melissa Morrison (USA, 100m hurdles) and Tonique Williams-Darlling (Bahamas, 400m) advanced today in two events, but USC received a crushing blow when Lashinda Demus failed to advance to the 400m hurdles finals.

Monday will be another busy day for USC in Athens. USC’s Otis Harris will run in the finals of the 400m. USC graduate Lisa Misipeka will compete in the prelims of the women’s hammer, Aleen Bailey will begin her quest for gold in the 200m and Melissa Morrison will run in the 100m hurdles quarterfinasl.

Demus, who ran a 54.32 in the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles, finished fifth in her heat. She needed to finish top four in her heat with the other two USA hurdlers making the finals with slower times from the first semi-final (Sheena Johnson and Brenda Taylor).

Demus had an uphill climb this evening in front of 85,000 fans, racing in the lane next to Greek’s darling, Fani Halkia, who set an Olympic record (52.77) in the lane next to Demus.

“I felt fatigued in the last 100m,” said Demus. “I started jumping over the hurdles with my bad leg. Everyone gets fatigued in races, it just comes with the territory. We were on a fast pace and I figured the Greek runner was going to run fast but honestly I’m not sure where she came from here.

“I ran a 54.3 which isn’t that fast but it’s a disappointment for me,” said Demus. Was experience a factor and will another make a difference for the Gamecock who just finished her junior year? “I never do things in the future – think that far ahead. If it doesn’t happen you are disappointed. I am happy for the experience here but disappointed.”

Gamecock graduate Tonique Williams-Darling, the No. 1 ranked 400m runner in the world this year, easily won her heat to make the finals of the 400m on Tuesday night. Williams-Darling clocked a 50.00 to win her heat. The time was the second fastest on the night with former USC volunteer coach and Columbia native Monqiue Hennagan winning her heat with a time of 49.88. Williams-Darling trains now in Norfolk, Va., with Steve Riddick while Hennagan trains in Atlanta with Pauline Davis-Thompson.

In another women’s hurdles race, USC volunteer coach Melissa Morrison advanced to tomorrow’s quarterfinals of the 100m hurdles by winning her heat in a time of 12.76.
Morrison, who trains under USC Head Coach Curtis Frye, won the bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“I shut it down early because I wanted to conserve energy for the next round,” said Morrision. “Everyone is going to have to be on their game tomorrow and run well. I thought I had actually run a bit faster then I saw there was a negative wind of 1.2 so it turned out OK.”