Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympics hit home as alums compete

On the walls and shelves of my office, there are various framed photographs and travel memorabilia, but the most meaningful object to me is my framed diploma from Louisiana Tech University. My alma mater is near and dear to my heart. The university has come a long way, even since I graduated a few years ago.
 
I applaud the university’s numerous advancements and its garnering of national acclaim through not only academics, but also athletics. I now can extend this praise to celebrate on a global level— for three Louisiana Tech graduates are competing at the 2012 Olympic games in London.

 
New Orleans native and long jumper Chelsea Hayes is the first Louisiana Tech graduate to participate in the games for Team USA. Jason Morgan will represent Jamaica in the discus and Ayanna Alexander will compete in the triple jump for Trinidad and Tobago. Alexander won a silver medal in 2010 Commonwealth Games and silver and bronze medalist at the 2010 CAC games.
 
If making it to the world stage of athletics isn’t enough, Hayes and Morgan have both overcome personal tragedies and hardship to achieve their Olympic dreams. On top of being a world’s top discus thrower, Morgan has a wife, a son and a full-time job. He lives and trains in Ruston. He qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, but a mixup in his travel documentation prevented him from traveling to China. After losing his mother, Morgan now can fulfill the promise he made to her when he was 18.
 
Hayes enters the Olympics ranked third in the world for long jump. Hayes’ story unfolded right before her senior year of high school when Hurricane Katrina hit. She spent the years following the catastrophe moving to different states, finishing her high school education and signing to a junior college in Texas.
 
Hayes is currently a graduate student at Louisiana Tech. She is only one of seven track and field collegiate athletes headed to the Olympics out of 140 total track and field Team USA athletes. She earned her place on Team USA with her final long jump attempt, which ended up her personal best and made a new WAC record.
 
She is the 2012 Joe Kearney Award recipient as the top athlete in the WAC, which is the first time for a Louisiana Tech athlete to win the award. She also was named the 2012 Louisiana Field Athlete of the Year. She is a 14-time WAC champion, 15-time first team All-WAC and the 2012 indoor long jump national runner-up.
 
The opening ceremony was on July 27 with its closing on August 12. The following dates are for the qualifying and medal round for each sport: women’s long jump – August 7-8, men’s discus – August 6-7 and women’s triple jump – August 3 and 5. I have always loved watching the Olympics! I can't wait to see my fellow alums in action!

The Tower Bridge - I walked down the enclosed walkway up high
My best friend & I backpacked in the U.K. & France


To see Hayes' Tech athletic profile, visit:
http://www.latechsports.com/sports/c-track/mtt/hayes_chelsea00.html
Or check out her Olympic profile at :
http://www.nbcolympics.com/news-blogs/track-and-field/chelsea-hayes-bio.html

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