Track and Field Olympians To Be Recognized
Oct. 4, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three current and former Nittany Lion track and field standouts, who competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games, are slated to be honored this weekend, as a part of the Varsity S Club's Olympians Recognition, in conjunction with Penn State's Homecoming Weekend. Making the trip back to Happy Valley will be former NCAA Champions Shana Cox and Dominique Blake - both 2008 graduates - who competed at the London Olympics for Great Britain, and Jamaica, respectively. Also attending will be current junior Kirsten Nieuwendam (Paramaribo, Suriname), who made her second Olympic appearance this summer with her home country of Suriname.
Cox - the 2008 NCAA Champion at 400 meters - starred for Great Britain at the Games, leading of her country's 4x400-meter relay, which finished fifth in the final. Cox also excelled individually, advancing to the semi-finals in the 400-meters. Blake, a member of Penn State's NCAA Champion 4x400 in 2008, also had a successful London experience, earning a bronze medal as a member of Jamaica's 4x400 relay pool. Nieuwendam, who was a Second Team All-America selection for the Nittany Lions last spring, represented her country in the 200-meters, placing eighth in her preliminary section.
The Olympians will be honored throughout the weekend, appearing in the Homecoming Parade, as well as being recognized at the Penn State versus Northwestern football game on Saturday.
Also competing at the London Games, but unable to attend this weekend's festivities, were 2010 alumnus Bridget Franek and current volunteer assistant Ryan Whiting, who both donned the Red, White, and Blue of the United States. Franek qualified for the final of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, becoming the first Nittany Lion female athlete to qualify for an Olympic track and field final. Franek placed 12th overall in the final, and also enjoyed a PR performance of 9:29.53 at the Aviva Grand Prix in London just prior to the Games.
Whiting - the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Champion in the shot put - also qualified for the Olympic final, placing ninth overall. The Arizona State grad placed second in the even at the US Olympic Trials, solidifying his spot on the Olympic squad.
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