INDIANAPOLIS - Jenn Stuczynski, Chaunte Howard, Amy Acuff, Hyleas Fountain and Brittney Reese are ready to lead Team USA's women's jumpers, pole vaulters and combined events athletes against the world at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
2005 World Outdoor silver medalist Chaunte Howard (Snellville, Ga.) returned to competition this year following a maternity leave in 2007. Howard has enjoyed a successful comeback in winning at the Olympic Trials with a clearance of 1.97m/6-5.5. Her winning clearance of 1.98m/6-6 at the adidas Track Classic on May 18 in Carson, Calif., is the best by an American woman this year. The 2006 USA Indoor and Outdoor champion, Howard will look to step onto the Olympic podium in Beijing.
Now a four-time Olympian, Amy Acuff (Isleton, Calif.) qualified for Beijing with her runner-up finish at the 2008 Olympic Trials - Track & Field in Eugene, Ore., with a clearance of 1.93 meters/6 feet 4 inches. Her best Olympic finish was when she placed fourth at the 2004 games in Athens, Greece. A six-time USA Outdoor champion, Acuff owns four U.S. Indoor titles and is a two-time NCAA Outdoor champion.
Recognized as an up-and-comer in the women's high jump, 2005 NCAA Outdoor champion and 2007 USA Outdoor Championships runner-up Sharon Day (Costa Mesa, Calif.) finished third (1.91m/6-3.25) at the Trials to earn a trip to Beijing. Although this is her first time on a U.S. Olympic or World Outdoor Championships roster, Day is no stranger to international competition, having won the gold medal at the 2003 Junior Pan Am Championships and a bronze medal at the 2004 World Junior Championships.
One of only three women to ever clear the 16-foot barrier in the women's pole vault, Jenn Stuczynski (Churchville, N.Y.) is a top candidate to win a medal at the Beijing Olympics and is looking to knock off world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva. Stuczynski showed fine form at the Olympic Trials when she won the event with an American-record clearance of 4.92 meters/16 feet 1.75 inches, making her the #2 performer in the world. Her performance bettered her AR from earlier this year with her win at the adidas Track Classic in clearing 4.90m/16-0.75. A three-time USA Indoor and Outdoor champion, Stuczynski won the silver medal at the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain.
A three-time NCAA Indoor All-American and the 2007 Pan Am Games women's pole vault silver medalist, April Steiner Bennett (Springdale, Ark.) qualified for Beijing with her runner-up finish at the Trials. Steiner-Bennett, who placed fifth at the 2004 Olympic Trials in Sacramento, set her personal best earlier this year with a clearance of 4.63m/15-2.25.
Erica Bartolina (Hammond, La.) returned to Hayward Field, where she won a high school state title in 1997, and set three personal bests on her way to a third place finish and a trip to Beijing. Bartolina, who is coached by her husband Mike, had a previous best finish at a USA Outdoor Championships of 12th place in 2007. Prior to soaring to 4.55m/14-11 at the 2008 Trials, Bartolina's personal best going into this season was a 4.40m/14-5.25 clearance from 2004.
After finishing as the runner-up at the 2007 USA Outdoor Championships, Brittney Reese (University, Miss.) finished first at the Olympic Trials and will compete in Beijing as the U.S. Outdoor champion. Reese, a two-time NCAA champion, won the Trials with a personal best final leap of 6.95m/22-9.75, which leads this season's U.S. outdoor list, ranks #5 in the world this year and is the best jump by an American woman since 2004.
A four-time USA Outdoor champion and the 2002 USA Indoor champ, Grace Upshaw (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) qualified for her second U.S. Olympic Team with her runner-up finish at the Olympic Trials, jumping a personal-best 6.88m/22-7. She was 10th at the 2004 Olympic Games. At the 2007 USA Outdoor Championships, Upshaw moved from fifth place to first on her final attempt to claim her fourth career U.S. Outdoor title.
Former Rice University star Funmi Jimoh (Stafford, Texas) qualified for her first Olympic team by finishing third at the Trials with a best leap of 6.72m/22-0.75. She previewed that performance at the 2008 USA Indoor Championships in Boston, where she finished third with a best leap of 6.33m/20-9.25. Earlier this year Jimoh posted her personal best of 6.91m/22-8 in winning March 29 in Houston, Texas, which is the second-best mark by an American woman this outdoor season.
With her win at the Olympic Trials, Shani Marks (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) solidified her status as the leading women's triple jumper in the U.S. Marks won the Trials with a personal best of 14.38m/47 feet 2.25 inches, which established a new Hayward Field record and is the best by an American this outdoor season. Marks now owns three U.S. Outdoor titles ('06, '07, '08) and two USA Indoor crowns ('05, '07). A two-time Big Ten outdoor champion while at Minnesota, Marks finished fourth at the Olympic Trials in 2004.
A 2005 World Outdoor Championships team member and the 2008 NCAA Outdoor champion, Erica McLain (Plano, Texas) will get her first taste of Olympic competition following her third-place finish at the Trials (13.96m/45-9.75). The 2007 NCAA Indoor champion, McLain set the American Junior record of 14.01m/45-11.75 in Carson, Calif., on June 26, 2005. She won the 2005 USA Outdoor title as a collegiate freshman at Stanford.
The 2005 and 2007 national heptathlon champion, Hyleas Fountain (Kettering, Ohio) dominated the competition at the 2008 Olympic Trials with a winning personal best score of 6,667 points, which currently sits atop the 2008 world list and makes her the #3 performer in U.S. history in that event. Over two days, she won five of seven events and posted five event personal bests as well as her overall personal-best score. The 2005 USA Indoor Pentathlon champion, Fountain won the 2003 NCAA heptathlon title and in 2004 she won the NCAA Outdoor long jump crown.
A four-time NCAA Outdoor champion and three-time NCAA Indoor champ, Arizona State University standout Jacquelyn Johnson (Tempe, Ariz.) was second in Eugene in the personal best score of 6,347 points. Her performance sits #2 on the 2008 U.S. list and it's the 12th best mark in the world this year. A 2004 NACAC U-23 champion, Johnson placed 12th at the 2004 Olympic Trials.
Former Washington State University standout Diana Pickler (Sachse, Texas) got her first taste of international competition last year at the World Outdoor Championships in Japan. Pickler posted a personal best at the Trials, placing third with 6,257 points after breaking the 6,000-point barrier for the first time with her runner-up finish at the 2007 USA Outdoor Championships when she amassed 6,029 points.
For more information on Team USA at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, visit: www.usatf.org