tampabay.com

World meet reward for Richmond

By BOB PUTNAM
Published August 9, 2005


The way Rose Richmond was long jumping at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships two months ago, it looked as if she would not qualify for the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, this week.

The graduate of Lakewood High and Indiana University finished fifth at the U.S. meet. Only the top three made the squad.

But Richmond inched her way to Helsinki with some last-minute panache.

Through a series of complicated events, those who made the three-women U.S. long jump team had to achieve the qualifying A standard for the world championships.

Richmond owned the standard (22 feet, 13/4 inches) but when third-place Brianna Glenn and fourth-place Akiba McKinney failed to attain it before the July 25 deadline, Richmond moved up the list. She competes today and Wednesday.

"This isn't exactly the way I wanted things to happen, but I'm excited about the chance to compete at worlds," Richmond said.

For the past year, Richmond has seemingly qualified for the world's biggest meets by grabbing the last handrail on the last caboose.

She was an 11th-hour addition to the U.S. team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens after learning her qualifying jump of 22 feet, 21/4 inches was good to go.

Akiba McKinney took third in the Olympic trials last year, but never reached the qualifying standard of 21 feet, 113/4 inches she needed to make the team.

Richmond, who finished fourth in the trials, was able to win a provisional spot with her jump, but had to wait while McKinney tried to hit the standard. It never happened, and Richmond joined Grace Upshaw and Olympic veteran Marion Jones as U.S. long jumpers.

At the Olympics, Richmond leaped 21-21/2 and failed to reach the final.

She came back to win her first USA Indoor Track and Field title in February, clearing 21-11/2.

"I'm happy to win my first championships," Richmond said. "But I was not happy with my performance. I am still having some technical problems, but I will get it together for the outdoor season."

She did by winning her first long jump title at a major European meet, leaping 21-83/4 last month in the Norwich Union London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace. Her best is 22-21/4, which she achieved last summer.