Aug. 23, 2004
- Otis ATHENS, Greece – USC senior Otis Harris became the school’s first Athens 2004 Olympic Medalist today as he won the silver in the men’s 400m. USC has a real chance to win more medals on Tuesday with Aleen Bailey in the semi-finals of the 200m, Melissa Morrision will be in the finals of the 100m hurdles and Tonique Williams-Darling will run in the finals of the 400m with former USC volunteer coach and Columbia native Monique Hennagan. Look for Harris on NBC’s Today show on Tuesday morning between 7 and 8 am. Harris, from Edwards, Miss., ran a personal best 44.16 to become Coach Curtis Frye’s first medalist in the 400m. It was a personal best by more than .30. “Running felt great,” said Harris. “I felt good and when I came around the back stretch I felt really good so I kept going. When I got to the 300m I saw I had a chance to win so I just went for it. I am so proud to wear this uniform and represent the USA. And to bring a medal home to Columbia, SC is also wonderful. “It’s a real blessing, unbelievable. That a boy from a small town like Edwards, Miss., can come to the Olympics and compete for a gold medal – amazing. It’s a dream come true, but one that didn’t come without a lot of hard work. We came here to go 1-2-3 and we did it.” Jeremy Wariner, from Baylor University, became the sixth straight American to win an Olympic title in the 400 meters, leading the United States sweep with the gold. “Otis was prepared to win the race, but Jeremy got him in the last few meters,” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. “We are so proud of the way these three young men have represented America. Otis ran the plan and did an excellent job. Now he has a chance to come back later this week to help the USA win another gold medal in the 4x400m relay.” Wariner, 20, finished in 44.00 seconds, also a personal best. He crossed the finish line with his arms extended in victory, followed by silver medalist Harris and bronze medalist Derrick Brew (44.42), of LSU. “It’s wonderful for the US to have three talented 400m runners that all ran 44. They all did this together,” Frye said. The United States has dominated the event since 1984, winning 13 of the 18 medals in the last six Olympics. Americans also swept at the 1988 Seoul Games. “It means a lot. We all thought we could go out there and go 1-2-3. We did our best, we fought hard, and we all came out on top,” Wariner said. The three Americans hugged in the finish area, then began a slow victory lap with three U.S. flags. “I hope USC and the USA are proud of these three young men,” Frye said. The United States has won 18 of the 24 times the event has been held in the Olympics, including four medal sweeps _ 1904, 1968, 1988 and this summer. Earlier, USC volunteer coach Mellissa Morrison ran a 12.53 * a personal best * to make the finals on Tuesday night of the 100m hurdles. Morrison won the bronze in 2000 and is the only Olympic medalist to make this final after Sydney. “Anytime you run a personal best to make the finals, you’ve done your job,” said Frye. “She has the experience of not running but hurdling because she had to fight her way back in it tonight after getting out a bit slow. She let her quickness move her to the front. Now we get a better start tomorrow and we will see what happens from there.” Aleen Bailey was second in her heat of the 200m, finishing at 22.97 * making the semi-finals of the 200m. She was fifth the other night in the finals of the 100m. She will run the semi-finals tomorrow night and if she makes the finals, it will be run tomorrow night as well.