Gators Christian Taylor, Will Claye take home gold and silver for United States in Triple Jump

Former Florida Gators Christian Taylor and Will Claye dominated the finals of the Men’s Triple Jump at the 2012 London Olympics on Thursday, finishing first and second in the event, respectively, to take home gold and silver for the United States.

Taylor, 22, the reigning world champion and gold medal favorite going into the event, became the youngest jumper in 100 years to win Olympic gold in the Triple Jump.

He almost did not have the opportunity to be the first American since 1996 to capture gold in the event, however, after committing fouls on his first two introductory jumps.

Taylor hit a mark of 17.15m on his third attempt to cement his place in the top eight and qualify for three more jumps. He wasted little time showcasing his dominance, hitting a seasonal best of 17.81m on his fourth attempt, a mark that would win him the gold medal.

Claye, the world indoor champion in the event who already took home bronze on Saturday in the Men’s Long Jump, won silver with a mark of 17.62m on his fourth jump. He led through the first three jumps with a second attempt of 17.54m, a mark which only he and Taylor eclipsed over the duration of the event.

The medals won by Taylor and Claye mark the 11th and 12th by former Gators in these Olympics. Representatives of Florida now have three golds, four silvers and five bronzes over the course of the games with a handful of events remaining.

Taylor’s medal is also the first individual track & field gold in program history. Taylor and Claye’s medals are just the second and third field medals in school history.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Taylor, Hill, Tebow, volleyball

1 » ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, in a piece published on July 31 and apparently missed by OGGOA, said that Florida Gators field star Christian Taylor (United States) is someone whose name should be remembered by the public heading into the 2012 London Olympics. Needing just one jump on Tuesday to qualify for the finals of the Men’s Triple Jump (set to be held on Thursday at 2:20 p.m.), Taylor explained to Wilbon how he learned the event that he has been so successful in up to this point in his career. “I went to YouTube … and how to DVDs. That was my film session,” he said.

2 » Former Gators safety Will Hill continues to turn heads at New York Giants training camp, so much so that the undrafted free agent who spent a year away from football is said to be “vying for significant time at safety” this season, according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. Hill was also praised by head coach Tom Coughlin last week for being a standout in the secondary (as well as during special teams drills) and has been taking snaps as a first-team nickel back this week, according to the Associated Press. “I have the mentality, because I wasn’t drafted, [that] I have to prove myself to not only the coaches but also the players that I belong here,” Hill said. “So that’s how I just go out every day and attack it, full-on.” He also admitted that he only had himself to blame. “Me. Me,” Hill said. “Just thinking too highly of myself and thinking, ‘Oh, I am at the top again, nothing can happen to me and I can do whatever I want.’ And I paid for it.”

3 » Speaking on his own WFAN radio show on Monday, former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason suggested that the New York Jets should cut QB Tim Tebow.

“You want to know, if I were the Jets, what I would do? Want to know what I would do? I would cut Tim Tebow, I really would. I would. I’m just telling you right now: I would. And I’ll tell you why I would. It’s just not in any way, shape or form, I think, benefitting this team. I don’t see how it benefits…unless one thing that I would say is because you got a bunch of lunatics in that locker room. [...] The fact is, the reason you may want Tim Tebow on this team – specifically for one reason and one reason only – and that’s the character issue.”

Esiason has been critical of Tebow in the past and similarly suggested that the Denver Broncos cut him following a poor performance in a regular season game in 2011. And what did Tebow say when he was asked to respond to Esiason’s comments? “I’ve heard nothing but great things about Mr. Esiason. I know he was a great player here and I wish him nothing but the best in his announcing. God bless him.”

4 » Though most Florida fans may be focused on the upcoming football season, Gators volleyball is set to host the Campus USA Credit Union Invite from Aug. 24-25 in Gainesville, FL against three other teams from the state of Florida. The Southeastern Conference this week polled its volleyball coaches to come up with preseason predictions. The SEC coaches chose Tennessee to win the conference championship with 12-of-13 first-place votes; Florida received the other but was picked to finish sixth in the league standings. The Gators also had just one team member – junior middle back Chloe Mann – selected for the Preseason All-SEC Team. Being an underdog is new ground for Florida under head coach Mary Wise. The Gators won the SEC consecutively from 1991-2008 and also took home a conference title in 2010. Florida finished third in 2009 and second last season. The 2012 team features just five upper classmen along with four sophomores and seven freshman (one redshirt).

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SIX BITS: Jenkins, Dunlap, Tebow, Lochte

1 » After weeks of posturing, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and the St. Louis Rams finally came to terms Tuesday evening on a four-year rookie contract that will pay Jenkins $5 million over its duration including $3.1 million guaranteed. As first reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the contract ensures that Jenkins will be in camp on time. He will compete for a starting role immediately and could prove to be the steal of the drat that St. Louis hoped he was when the team selected him No. 39 overall.

2 » Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap has proven that he can be an effective pass rusher when he is on the field; unfortunately nagging injuries have kept him from being as consistent as either he or his team would have liked over the first two years of his career. In a recent conversation with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer indicated that Dunlap could be dominant if he finds a way to become a tougher player. “He doesn’t know how to fight through nagging things yet,” Zimmer said of Dunlap. “In this game, you can’t be a track guy. You’ve got to be a football player. Because you’re going to have bruises and bumps and be sore, so you’ve got to fight through it. That’s a little bit of immaturity and growing up. Usually they say with defensive linemen it takes about three years before they really kind of figure it out. So this is his third year, and I’m hoping he can live up to my expectations.”

3 » The ways in which the New York Jets plan to use quarterback Tim Tebow seemingly increase by the day, which is why it should probably come as no surprise that the team is now considering using him on its kickoff coverage team. According to the New York Daily News, Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff thinks there may be a benefit to throwing a quarterback on the field for one of the roughest plays in all of sports. “There are certain situations [on kickoffs] where he might be on the field that he could be utilized possibly to block or possibly to field a ball,” Westhoff told the paper. “If a team squibs it at you or pops it at you, he might be the perfect guy to put in that could make an adjustment. If they kick it deep, he could block. If they squib it or pop it, he could be a guy that we’d have with a ball in his hands.” He went on to clarify that stance. “His role with me won’t be a paramount role,” Westhoff added. “I’m not counting on Tebow coming in and being a hardcore special teams player. That’s not what we want. We have a limited role for him, but it will be one that presents problems. That’s what Tebow is all about. He presents problems to good football teams in a lot of aspects. You have to be aware of it. If you’re not aware of it, it could jump up and smack you.”

Read three more BITS on Lochte, Florida/Georgetown and Taylor…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Jenkins, Dunlap, Tebow, Lochte

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Tim Tebow wins ESPY award for Best Moment

Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow may no longer be a member of the Denver Broncos but one of his last plays with the team earned him and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas an ESPY award on Wednesday in Los Angeles, CA.

Playing in the Wildcard Round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, Denver and the Pittsburgh Steelers were tied at 23 heading into overtime with the Broncos receiving the ball. On the very first play from scrimmage, Tebow hit Thomas across the middle with a dart that the receiver would take the rest of the way for a game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass.

The ESPY for Best Moment is the third in Tebow’s young career but his first as a professional football player. He previously won Best Male College Athlete as a member of the Gators football team in both 2008 and 2009.

Florida was well-represented at the award show on Wednesday with three other nominees – U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach for Best Female Athlete, junior catcher Mike Zunino for Best Male College Athlete and jumper Christian Taylor for Best Track & Field Athlete – though none of the three brought home the award in their respective category. Gators senior right fielder Preston Tucker was also in attendance to officially accept the 2012 Capital One Cup and guard Mike Miller found his way onstage to accept the award for Best Team.

A number of former Florida student-athletes congratulated Tebow for his award on Twitter after it was announced.

Jack Youngblood (@theblood85): Congrats @TimTebow on your @ESPYS award! Here’s to more “moments” like that one-JY

Marcus Gilbert (@MarcusGilbert88): Congrats to my boy @TimTebow even thought he won it against my #Steelers smh! Payback week 2 lol

Andre Caldwell (@Acaldwell17): How can you not like @TimTebow and the way he carry is his self.. It was a pleasure to play with Timmy

Brandon Spikes (@BrandonSpikes55): Tim Tebow is such a great player !!! #GrinchSmile

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7/2: Gators wrap up 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Seventeen current and former Florida Gators track & field athletes and 35 current and former Florida swimmers participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, OR and Omaha, NE over the last two weeks.

In all seven Gators – four track & field athletes, three swimmers – qualified for the 2012 London Olympics after competing in the two events. Joining these current and former student-athletes are Mike Holloway, an assistant coach on Team USA for sprinters and hurdlers, and Gregg Troy, the Americans’ head swimming coach for these Olympic games.

OGGOA will offer comprehensive coverage of the 2012 London Olympics including a dedicated page, numerous widgets and daily updates. Below is the final update for the track & field and swimming team trials, which concluded on Monday.

EVENT RESULTS – JULY 2

Swimming
WOMEN’S 50 METER FREESTYLE
Dara Torres4th – 24.82Did not qualify
» Torres’s Olympic career ends with 12 medals (four golds) over five games.

QUALIFIED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Junior Tony McQuay – Men’s 400 Meter Dash
Will Claye – Men’s Long Jump, Men’s Triple Jump
Christian Taylor – Men’s Triple Jump
Kerron Clement – Men’s 400 Meter Hurdles

Swimming
Ryan Lochte – Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke, Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley
Conor Dwyer – Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 800 Meter Freestyle Relay
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel – Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke

(Additional relays that McQuay, Clement, Lochte, Dwyer and Beisel may compete in have yet to be determined or announced.)

ELIMINATED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Senior Gray Horn – Men’s Decathalon – finished third, did not qualify
Junior Dwight Barbiasz – Men’s High Jump – advanced to finals
Wes Stockbarger – Men’s Discus Throw – advanced to finals
Senior Jeff Demps – Men’s 100 Meter Dash – advanced to finals
Freshman Marquis Dendy – Men’s Long Jump – advanced to finals
Mason Cathey – Women’s 3,000 Meter Steeplechase – advanced to finals
Calvin Smith – Men’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Ebony Eutsey – Women’s 400 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Freshman Dedric Dukes – Men’s 200 Meter Dash – advanced to semifinals
Sophomore Eddie Lovett – Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles – advanced to semifinals
Junior Jeremy Postin – Men’s Hammer Throw
Sophomore Cory McGee – Women’s 1,500 Meter Run

Swimming
Men: Rex Tullius (finals), Matthew Norton, Mike Joyce, Alex Martin, junior Cameron Martin, junior Jason Taylor, sophomore Connor Signorin, sophomore Bradley deBorde, freshman Matt Elliott (finals), freshman Austin Ringquist, freshman Matthew Curby, freshman Carlos Omana, freshman James Turner, freshman Austin Manganiello, freshman Ricky Munch, freshman Nicholas Caldwell, freshman Colin Hamilton, freshman Billy Silva
Women: Dara Torres (finals), senior Teresa Crippen (finals – 2), junior Jamie Bohunicky, junior Sharla Milne, sophomore Kaitlin Frehling, sophomore Trish Regan, sophomore Alicia Mathieu, sophomore Julia Treible, sophomore Alana Pazevic, freshman Rebecca Rainer, freshman Molly Dubrasky, freshman Jordan Smith, freshman Savannah Napier, freshman Lauren Neidigh,

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6/30: Gators at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Seventeen current and former Florida Gators track & field athletes are currently in Eugene, OR participating in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the opportunity to represent their country in the 2012 London Olympics. Simultaneously, 35 current and former Gators swimmers are in Omaha, NE working toward the exact same goal.

Below is an update on how each has performed through the ninth (track & field) and sixth (swimming) days of the events as well as a schedule for the remainder of the trials.

EVENT RESULTS – JUNE 30

Track & Field
MEN’S TRIPLE JUMP
Christian Taylor1st – 17.63m/57-10.25Qualified for Olympics
Will Claye2nd – 17.55m/57-7Qualified for Olympics
Junior Omar Craddock4th – 16.55m/54-3.75Did not qualify
» Taylor and Claye were the only two Americans to hit the Olympic ‘A’ Qualifying mark for the triple jump.

MEN’S 200 METER DASH (Semifinals)
Freshman Dedric Dukes9th – 20.70Eliminated

MEN’S 110 METER HURDLES (Semifinals)
Sophomore Eddie Lovett17th – 13.60Eliminated

Swimming
MEN’S 200 METER BACKSTROKE
Ryan Lochte1st – 1:54.54Qualified for Olympics
Rex Tullius6th – 1:59.16Did not qualify

MEN’S 200 METER INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
Ryan Lochte2nd – 1:54.93Qualified for Olympics
Conor Dwyer3rd – 1:58.92Did not qualify

MEN’S 50 METER FREESTYLE (Semifinals)
» Did not advance to semifinals: sophomore Bradley deBorde (Heat 10 – 22.76), Matthew Norton (Heat 3 – 23.30)

WOMEN’S 200 METER BACKSTROKE (Semifinals)
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel2nd – 2:08.41Advanced to finals
Senior Teresa Crippen7th – 2:12.21Advanced to finals
» Next competing: Sunday, July 1 from 8-9 p.m. live on NBC
» Did not advance to semifinals: sophomore Trish Regan (Heat 18 – 2:19.73)

MEN’S 100 METER BUTTERFLY (Semifinals)
Ryan Lochte6th – 52.47Advanced to finals
» Next competing: Sunday, July 1 from 8-9 p.m. live on NBC
» Did not advance to semifinals: junior Cameron Martin (Heat 7 – 54.50)

WOMEN’S 800 METER FREESTYLE (Preliminaries)
» Did not advance to finals: junior Jamie Bohunicky (Heat 3 – 8:48.42), sophomore Alicia Mathieu (Heat 7 – 8:50.14)

QUALIFIED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Junior Tony McQuay – Men’s 400 Meter Dash
Will Claye – Men’s Long Jump, Men’s Triple Jump
Christian Taylor – Men’s Triple Jump

Swimming
Ryan Lochte – Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke, Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley
Conor Dwyer – Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 800 Meter Freestyle Relay
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel – Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley

Read about the Upcoming Events and Eliminated Athletes…after the break!
Continue Reading » 6/30: Gators at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

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6/28: Gators at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

Seventeen current and former Florida Gators track & field athletes are currently in Eugene, OR participating in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the opportunity to represent their country in the 2012 London Olympics. Simultaneously, 35 current and former Gators swimmers are in Omaha, NE working toward the exact same goal.

Below is an update on how each has performed through the seventh (track & field) and fourth (swimming) days of the events as well as a schedule for the remainder of the trials.

EVENT RESULTS – JUNE 28

Track & Field
MEN’S DISCUS THROW
Wes Stockbarger8th – 59.19m/194-2Did not qualify

WOMEN’S 1,500-METER RUN
Sophomore Cory McGee25th – 4:17.76Eliminated

MEN’S TRIPLE JUMP
Christian Taylor1st – 17.27m/56-8Advanced to finals
Will Claye2nd – 16.80m/55-1.5Advanced to finals
Junior Omar Craddock8th – 16.45m/53-11.75Advanced to finals
» Next competing: Saturday, June 30 at 7:40 p.m.

MEN’S 400-METER HURDLES
Kerron Clement1st – 49.37Advanced to semifinals
» Next competing: Friday, June 29 at 6:35 p.m. live on NBC Sports Network

Swimming
WOMEN’S 200 METER INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel5th – 2:12.37Did not qualify
» Beisel qualified previously in the 400 Meter Individual Medley.

MEN’S 100 METER FREESTYLE (Semifinals)
Ryan Lochte5th – 48.91Advanced to finals but withdrew
» Did not qualify for semifinals: Conor Dwyer (Heat 16 – 50.12), sophomore Bradley deBorde (Heat 16 – 50.48), freshman James Turner (Heat 2 – 51.05)

WOMEN’S 200 METER BUTTERFLY (Semifinals)
Senior Teresa Crippen3rd – 2:09.59Advanced to finals
» Next competing: Friday, June 29 from 8-9 p.m. live on NBC.
» Did not qualify for semifinals: junior Jamie Bohunicky (Heat 13 – 2:14.01), freshman Molly Dubrasky (Heat 7 – 2:15.12)
» Scratched: sophomore Elizabeth Beisel

MEN’S 200 METER BREASTSTROKE (Semifinals)
Freshman Matt Elliott8th – 2:12.00Advanced to finals
» Next competing: Friday, June 29 from 8-9 p.m. live on NBC
» Did not qualify for semifinals: freshman Ricky Munch (Heat 2 – 2:20.49)

QUALIFIED ATHLETES

Track & Field
Junior Tony McQuay – Men’s 400 Meter Dash
Will Claye – Men’s Long Jump

Swimming
Ryan Lochte – Men’s 400 Meter Individual Medley, Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle
Conor Dwyer – Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle, Men’s 800 Meter Freestyle Relay
Sophomore Elizabeth Beisel – Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley

Read about the Upcoming Events and Eliminated Athletes…after the break!
Continue Reading » 6/28: Gators at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials

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FOUR BITS: ESPYs, Ball, mission, Crippen

1 » Four total Florida Gators were nominated for ESPYs this year: U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach (Best Female Athlete), then-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (Best Moment), catcher Mike Zunino (Best Male College Athlete) and jumper Christian Taylor (Best Track & Field Athlete). Florida will also receive the 2012 Capital One Cup at the event, making July 11 at 9 p.m. a potentially very rewarding evening for the Gators.

2 » GatorZone.com senior writer Scott Carter recently spoke with Florida redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball, who conveyed that he feels “great,” hasn’t “felt this good in a long time” and is ready to rejoin the Gators football team after being rushed to the hospital last February and diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation (tangling of blood vessels) in his brain. Doctors were able to correct the issue and Ball was allowed to go home a few days later but was ruled out for the season even after he was deemed to be stable a few weeks later. “I was devastated,” he said. “It was the worst pain I ever felt. I wouldn’t even call it a headache. It felt like somebody was squeezing my brain. I knew it was very serious. At that point, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it because I was in terrible pain.” The good news is, now that Ball is recovered, the AVM has no chance of coming back. “If something comes up again, it’s another injury,” Florida associate director of sports and health and head athletics trainer for football Anthony Pass said. “There is no chronic nature to this. If he gets a concussion, it’s a concussion, it’s not because he had an AVM. He is healthy and he is ready to roll. If he gets injured somehow again and it’s a head injury, it’s another injury. It’s football, so the risk of injury is always there, but he is healthy to play football.”

3 » Six current Gators student-athletes – junior center Patric Young, junior forward Will Yeguete, junior running back Trey Burton, sophomore tight end Clay Burton, sophomore hurdler Katrina DeKrey and junior thrower Ashley Miller – are currently on a week-long mission trip to Africa sponsored by the organization Athletes In Action. The four Florida players you are likely most familiar with created the following video update:

4 » Gators senior Teresa Crippen is currently in Omaha, NE with many of her Florida teammates competing at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trails. Unfortunately for Crippen, she had had to scratch out of most of the early events (she qualified to compete in the preliminaries of seven total) due to a reoccurring illness. She was able to compete in the 200 Meter Freestyle on Wednesday and posted a 2:00.73, which almost qualified her for the semifinals. Crippen is expected to be able to swim in the remainder of her events so a spot participating in the 2012 London Olympics is not completely out of her reach yet.

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