Jacksonville Sports Day

RIO: FSU’s Kuijken 8th; Nole-led Belgium, Bahamas Relays Advance


With one lifetime-best and four outstanding relay legs worthy of a trip to the finals, five Florida State Seminoles acquitted themselves nicely Friday night on the track at Olympic Stadium.

Susan Kuijken, who has logged the most laps possible at the Games, capped her first career Olympic appearance with an eighth-place finish in the 5,000-meter final. The nine-time All-American and two-time national champion for the Seminoles followed up a strong effort in the 10,000 on the opening day of track competition – and a competitive semifinal – by running 15:00.69 in a heady performance.

“I though Susan had a great Olympic Games and to come back and get eighth after already running a 10k is extraordinary,” said FSU coach Bob Braman.

Kuijken, representing the Netherlands, shaved four seconds off her previous personal-best time, which was set back in 2013. She opened her Olympic debut by placing 14th out of 37 in 31:32.43, just a half-second off her lifetime-best.

The balance of Seminoles in action gathered in the second heat of 4×400 meter relay qualifying round.

Alonzo Russell and Stephen Newbold, who were teammates on FSU’s school record indoor relay team in 2014, lined up for the 2015 IAAF World Championship team from the Bahamas. A few lanes over, the Belgium team that includes twins Jonathan and Kevin Borlee – members of FSU’s 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championship and school record team – were looking to build on their European Championship from a few weeks back.

Both teams qualified for Saturday’s final despite stiff competition which saw six quartets crack the three-minute milestone.

Belgium was officially award the victory in heat 2 when Great Britain was disqualified, thanks in large part to the Borlee twins. Jonathan, carrying the baton on the second leg, moved Belgium up to second from third with a 44.83 split and Kevin closed in out with a blazing 44.15 anchor as they finished in a season-best 2:59.25.

It was the best effort by the Belgium squad in three consecutive Olympic Games, all of which have included the Borlee twins.

They were chased across the line by the Bahamas team that was awarded second place in a season-best 2:59.64, which ranks sixth overall among the finalists.

Russell, who had the best start out of the blocks in the heat, led off with a 45.29 split to give the Bahamas the lead. Newbold was provided a small lead on the anchor leg but could not hold it despite a 44.83 in his first turn with the BAA senior national squad.

Belgium wins heat 2 in 2:59.25 — Jonathan Borlee 2nd leg moves up from 3rd to 2nd w/45.16 split — Kevin Borlee anchors in 44.15 …. Finished 2nd to GBR which was disqualified … the European champions will enter the finals as the No. 3 seed Jamaica (2:58.29) and the United States (2:58.38).

“Great job by Alonzo and the Borlee’s,” Braman said. “They were all spectacular in qualifying and I can’t wait to see them in the finals.”

The men’s 4×400 final is scheduled for 9:35 p.m. (ET) Saturday.

A sixth Seminole, sprinter Marvin Bracy, was somewhat surprisingly not selected to compete on Team USA’s 4×100 relay in the final. Bracy, who finished third in the 100 at the US Trials but was eliminated in the semifinal round of the 100 in Rio, was passed over in favor of veteran Tyson Gay.

The US squad was disqualified for an illegal baton exchange, erasing a bronze medal finish.

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