Indiana State junior Greggmar Swift became the first member of the Sycamore track & field family to compete at the Summer Olympics after he qualified to represent his native Barbados in the 110 meter hurdles. Swift will join 2009 world champion Ryan Brathwaite and Shane Brathwaite of Texas Tech in representing their native Barbados in the 110 meter hurdles at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Swift finished second in the Barbados National Track & Field Championships with a time of 13.52 seconds. Ryan Braithwaite won the event with a time of 13.39 with Shane Braithwaite third in 13.63. Both Ryan and Shane Braithwaite had previously surpassed the “A” standard to earn their spot on the Barbados Olympic Team while Swift had to hit the “A” standard of 13.52 to take the third hurdle position on the team.
“There was a large crowd in attendance hoping to see history made as this was the first time in Barbados Olympic history that this small island nation had three athletes in one event at the Games,” John McNichols, Indiana State men’s track & field coach and coach of the hurdlers, said.
McNichols said that Swift got out strong in the preliminaries but hit hurdle four which set him back from Ryan and Shane but still finished third with a time of 13.67 with the race run into a strong head wind. Ryan won the preliminaries in 13.52 with Shane second in 13.61.
“Greggmar had a real great start and had the lead at the third and fourth hurdles,” John McNichols, Indiana State men’s track & field coach and coach of the Sycamore hurdlers, said. “There is a lot of excitement in the country with three automatic qualifiers for the London Games in one event.”
Having three competitors surpass the “A” standard and qualify for the Olympics in the same event is a first in Barbados and a rare event in athletics.
“Not very many nations can claim three ‘A’ standard qualifiers in the same event,” McNichols said.
“In the last preparations for the Final, Greggmar looked as strong as I have ever seen him as he took a few starts over three hurdles,” McNichols said. “When the starter fired the gun, Swift exploded out of the blocks running even with his two main competitors.”
Ryan began to pull away at hurdle three but Swift responded and they both began to pull away from Shane. Swift’s last four hurdles were very fast and he began to gain on Ryan.
McNichols said Swift attacked the finish line with his trademark "dive" at the tape to finish the race strong enough to leave the excited crowd believing there was a good chance he had raced to the Olympic "A" standard. The announcer egged the fans on as he reminded everyone of the significance of the event if, in fact, Swift succeeded. Finally the race photo was verified and the announcement was made that he had made the Olympic Team.
Swift is the first Indiana State Track and Field athlete to compete in the Olympic Games. A number of former Sycamores have competed in the World Championships, Pan Am Games, World University Games and Olympic Festivals but never before has a Sycamore graced the floor of Olympic Stadium.