GREENSBORO - Two North Carolina A&T track and field standouts have an opportunity to compete on the largest stage in sports at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London.
Recent graduate Ruth Cassandra-Hunt and rising senior Jenea McCammon will have the opportunity represent the Panamanian and the Co-operative Republic of Guyana national teams, respectively.
Hunt and McCammon's attempt at Olympic glory adds to what has been a standout year for Aggies when it comes to the Olympics. Calesio Newman, a 2010 A&T graduate, qualified for the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., in June. Senior Jarrell Elliott is also an Olympic trial qualifier in the 400 meters.
"I believe they all have worked hard to get where they are," said James Daniels, interim director of A&T track and field programs. "Anytime you have a chance to represent your country you can't help but to develop a sense of pride in yourself. They are able to represent A&T on an international level and we are excited that they are getting that opportunity. They made this decision early on to compete on this level and they took the opportunity very seriously," added Daniels.
Hunt is currently in Panama training with the national team and preparing for the trials. She recently tweeted: "@_TRACK_Misses, I did well. Won the 100. Someone clocked me at 11.3, so Ima just say I probably ran at least 11.8 (dnt wanna get my hopes up)."
Hunt will be competing in the women's 200 meter dash and in the 4x100 meter relay. Hunt's best time this outdoor season in the 200 meter dash was at the International Friendship and Freedom Games, where she ran 24.68. Hunt's women's 4x100 meter relay team with the Aggies is 34th in the nation.
"[Ruth] is resilient and she showed that early on. She is so dedicated to her dream that she missed her graduation to train in Panama," said Daniels. "She is an excellent student athlete and ambassador of this institution. We have been very blessed to have her here and have her as an Aggie."
Hunt is still in the process of developing in order to compete at her highest level. According to Daniels, Hunt has been working hard in the weight room to develop more power and strength.
"Ruth has always had the talent, but her strength was not there. She has become serious in the weight room," said Daniels.
Hunt's fellow Aggie McCammon has also left to train in Guyana for the national team. Although McCammon is not a native of Guyana, she has the opportunity to represent the republic because both of her parents were born there.
"All season I have been focused on running 57 seconds. I really want to go the Olympics for Guyana, that's been my number-one goal since forever," said McCammon. "I have been training extremely hard in the weight room and staying focused on my goals. I am not being lazy about anything and I am pushing myself harder and harder."
Her hard work is in fact beginning to pay off, as the hurdler finished first overall at the MEAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Irwin Belk track early in May, as she set a personal record with the time of 57.92. The Olympic standard for the women's 400 meter hurdles is 57.5.
"If you saw Jenea on the street you never realize how aggressive she is on the track," said Daniels. "She is humble and quiet, but she is a hard worker. She has been focused on her goals and I believe she will be a great asset to her country if she is able to represent them."
McCammon is ranked 29th in the nation in the women's 400 meter hurdles and she is determined to make the Olympic standard.
"I have been working on my attitude and my steps. Right now I am focused on perfecting my performance in the last three hurdles," said McCammon. "Throughout the season I had to continue to remind myself to stay focused and not get distracted. I have a job to do."
Hunt and McCammon will compete in the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round. Hunt will compete in the 4x100, while McCammon will compete in the 400 meter hurdles. Both ladies have an opportunity to make it to the NCAA National Outdoor Championships June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.
"I couldn't be more proud of Ruth and Jenea. They both are in the incredible position to compete in London and compete for the NCAA championship this year," said Daniels.