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June 10, 2008

Des Moines, Iowa – On the eve of the start of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, South Carolina freshmen trio Shayla Mahan, Porche Byrd and Gabrielle Glenn are excited as they chat with They have big footsteps to follow in. As freshman these former Gamecocks and future Olympic and World Championship contenders won All-American honors: Lashinda Demus, Demetria Washington, Lisa and Miki Barber, Natasha Hastings and Tiffany Ross-Williams.

USC: You all have unique names – where did you get them?
Shayla: My mom found my name in a magazine when she was pregnant with me.
Porche: My mom. There is an island called Porche. I’m named after the island, not the car.
Gabby: If you google it, it still comes up the car (smiles). Mine is French, but I have no idea where it came from. She chose between Gabrielle and Giselle.

USC: What events are you running at the NCAA meet?
Shayla: 100m and the 4x100m relay.
Porche: 400m and 4x400m relay. I am also an alternate for the 4×1.
Gabby: 100m, 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay.

What are your goals at this meet?
Shayla: I want to make top three in the 4×1 and at least top eight in the 100m.
Porche: My goal is to PR in the 400m and to place top three in the 4×4. My PR is 53.09 – I want to run 52 seconds.
Gabby: I would say the same – top three in the 4×1 and PR in the 100m. My PR is 11.45.

Shayla, you qualified in the 100m and the 200m – why are you just running the 100m?
Shayla: Because I PR’ed in the 200m at regionals and Coach Frye promised he wouldn’t make me run in the 200m because it’s back to back at this meet. Since I am a freshman, he wanted me to run just one event this year. Next year, I will run both.

Did you expect to run an individual event this year at the NCAA meet outdoors? Why?
Shayla: Yes. Because – wow that’s a hard question. Because I am just as fast as the other girls in the top five in the 100m.
Porche: No, I didn’t think I would make it. I didn’t know I would PR that soon. I didn’t expect to PR my freshman year.
Gabby: I don’t know. I knew the competition would be hard, but I was really determined to PR and I knew if I did, I would get in.

What do you want to accomplish before you graduate from South Carolina?
Shayla: My degree. I want to run at least 22.4 in the 200m. I also want to run pro if I can. That’s it (with a smile).
Porche: My degree and I want to go pro. I will have to run 49 point to do that – maybe 50 low.
Gabby: I want to get a 4.0, make an NCAA final (big breath) and I guess that’s it.

Do you know any of the past Gamecock Divas? Did you look up to any of them growing up?
Shayla: I know the Barber twins. I met them when I got here. Kenneth Ferguson is not a Diva, but he use to be a Gamecock and he is pro. He went to my high school. I looked up to Kenneth before I got here; I have known him a long time. The person I look up to in track is Allyson Felix.
Porche: I met Tasha Hastings and Miki Barber when I got here. Tasha is one of the reasons why I wanted to come here. I admire Shalonda Solomon in track and field.
Gabby: I met the Barber twins when I got here, too. I watched them run on TV before I got here. They were really nice. I remember watching Gail Devers on TV and looked up to her. Michael Johnson. Jeremy Warnier.
Shayla: I always wanted to meet Shalonda and when I found out she went here, that sealed the deal for me. I always wanted to meet her.

So what are some of the requirements for a Gamecock Diva – besides the hair, the make-up and the nails?
Shayla: Be very pretty. Fast. When I was younger, I wasn’t into make-up – more hair and nails. My older god-sister, I wanted to be like her when I grew.
Porche: Confidence. Walk around with confidence and knowing you are it! I didn’t start getting into hair and make-up until 11th grade. I didn’t get into the big, big Diana Ross hair until I got here. Diva’s have the longest hair you can find – to look like a movie star.
Gabby: High self-esteem. You have to have long hair and perform like a star.

Any good stories on being a freshmen?
Shayla: Yes! Being with Johnny Dutch and Porche Bryd. We always laugh about real stupid things and we joke a lot.
Porche: The best thing about being a freshman is being around Gabby, Shayla and Johnny. The worst thing: losing Binky (Bianca Blair).
Gabby: Hanging out in the Quad with the girls on the team.

You have traveled with your teammates all year long. They probably know everything about you. What is something they don’t know about you?
Gabby: Oh, Shayla, I want to know about this.
Shayla: Wow. Maybe that I am different and not a selfish person.
Porche: I guess the team doesn’t know I can be very quiet and steady at times. I can sit and be quiet Shayla.
Gabby: I like to read and I like to be alone.
Porche: I like to be alone, too.

What event do you wish you could compete in at a track meet?
Shayla: The 100m hurdles and the 400m.
Porche: Oh, Shayla – I want you to run the 400m. I want to do the pole vault.
Gabby: Shayla, have fun with that. The 400m hurdles and I hope to next year.
Shayla: I want to be on the 4×4, too.
Porche: She would run 59 point on the relay successfully. I would do the pole vault.
Gabby: You are too clumsy to do the pole vault Porche. I would do the high jump.

Anything final you would like to say to Gamecock fans?
Shayla: Believe in yourself and don’t let any negativity get to you.
Porche: Always be confident in yourself and don’t let anyone tell you can’t do something.
Gabby: I would say always stay positive in everything you do. You have to believe in yourself – you don’t know how far you can go.